Savory Lentil, Garlic & Cumin Soup

Though quite simple to make, this is highly flavorful and the texture is a delight. Unlike pea soup, lentils stay within their capsules and do not turn into mush, so they are fun on the tongue. Also unlike pea soup, this is spicy,
not sweet.

2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups dried lentils
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 teaspoons diced garlic
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add all other ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Makes 8 servings.


Apricot Black Bean & Verjus Salsa

This is a yummy and pretty-on-the-plate starter. Apricot season is quite short – and some years it doesn’t come at all – but if apricots are not available, peaches can be a substitute.

Verjus is a wonderful regional specialty, a pungent juice that comes from wine grapes that are picked and squeezed before they are ripe. If you must substitute, use half lemon juice and half red wine vinegar as an alternative to verjus.

2 cups diced apricots
2 cups (1 can) black beans, drained
¼ cup chives, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons verjus
1½ teaspoons sugar
1½ tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together apricots, beans, chives, cilantro, garlic and parsley. In a separate small bowl, mix together wine, verjus, sugar, olive oil and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Pour over apricot mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

You may serve this salsa with tortilla chips, or on top of grilled chicken, pork, or fish. Makes 4 to 5 cups of salsa.

Adapted from a recipe by Red Newt Bistro in Hector.

Food – Iroquois Style

The Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee in their own language) were the most successful farmers of any northern American Indian group. In their fertile central New York homeland, they cleared and then tilled large fields, made maple syrup, grew pumpkins and planted extensive fruit orchards. Their main field crops were the “three sisters” (corn, beans and squash), which they planted together symbiotically.

Corn (which is native to the Americas and was unknown to Europeans) was the staple food of the Iroquois, but it sucks nitrogen out of the soil at a rate which soon depletes fertility. Beans, however, harbor fungi in their roots, which pull nitrogen out of the atmosphere and “fix” it in the soil, thus actually making the earth richer as they grow – a perfect match for the voracious feeding of corn. Cornstalks in the Iroquois fields also gave the bean vines something to climb, increasing their growth and output. Meanwhile, the squash plants, mingled within the same fields, created a dense mat of leaves, which suppressed weed growth and retained soil moisture.

This was intelligent agriculture.

Finger Lakes Feast is available at many bookstores, gift shops and wineries in the Finger Lakes Region. It is also sold by online booksellers. It can be ordered by phone from the Independent Publishers Group (800-888-4741) or at the McBooks Press website (

excerpted from Finger Lakes Feast by Kate Harvey and Karl Zinsmeister

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