Very French Lentil Soup & Vegan Skillet Cornbread

In today’s article:

  • Let’s revisit Rick’s prostate;
  • I never would have thought I could do that to an onion; and of course
  • Very French Lentil Soup & Vegan Skillet Cornbread

French Lentil Soup

I thought you guys might be wondering how Rick is doing? It’s been a year since he got the call from his doctor regarding his prostate blood test, the PSA. And it’s been twelve months since we changed our diet from a pretty healthy California diet, to becoming almost Vegan’s.

Regarding his PSA, ( I wrote about this at length in the, About Me section of my blog) But, let’s take a minute and revisit, so I can bring you up to date, since the health of his prostate has been the driving engine in this whole enterprise.

In November 2016, Rick’s PSA, was 2.8

That’s the kind of number a 63 year old man would pay good money for. Fast forward to March 2019, that precious 2.9 took a leap and measured 4.7, and then progressed to 5.6. As PSA testing goes, a jump like that, can be indicative of the presence of cancer in the prostate. Our doctor told us that you don’t want to go too far over a PSA of 6.0 without doing anything. He suggested having a biopsy. The biopsy findings showed a (slow growing, but growing nonetheless) tumor located on the left side of his prostate. Again, I’m not a doctor… this was coming from our doctor.

I previously wrote in the “About Me

The very next day, we became almost vegans, and more importantly, no processed sugar. Every three months Rick gets a blood draw and has his numbers looked at, in other words, Active Surveillance. 

I’m not a doctor. I’m the family cook. 

All I can give you are the results of his test, and let you suss out the meaning. I can’t help but think of our fun new diet and his continued commitment to running those damn trails (two days ago, he got growled at by a bear, scratching his claws on a tree. Now I’m insisting he run with a bear horn)… I digress.

Here is the good news

After one year Rick’s numbers are down to a 4.6 and a MRI showed it has not spread to the other side of his prostate. He’ll have another blood test in the first part of May. So onward and onward. We’re sticking with the plan; No meat, no dairy and no sugar. Yes, to just a little fish now and then. Yes to a ton of vegetables, yes to bushels of fruit, a big yes to every kind of bean known to man, yes to nuts, and a simple regimen of vitamins. Yes to the grinding run, and yes to the good life.

We were talking about me writing this, and we both feel if this information helps one patient who has experienced a heart stopping phone call regarding his PSA test, and subsequently finds out it’s the slow growing variety of prostate cancer; here is a lifeline being thrown to you. Reach out and hold on; you’re going to be okay. Give the diet a try. Again, I’m not a doctor, so take this with a grain of turmeric 🙂 

My kitchen is calling

“It was a dark and stormy day,” boy doesn’t that sound yummy. I live in Northern California where we pray for dark and stormy weather. Those are the days when I get out the soup pot, and throw in my favorite combinations, and let it simmer all day. The aroma wafts out and greets Rick as he pulls in after a long day at work. Literally, it does, he pointed out to me the other day, when this old house was built, the stove’s down-draft excited in its own vent pipe,  popping out of the ground over by the driveway. “That’s what that is.” I said, when actually I never notice this pipe sticking a little out of the ground. ANYWAY.

The beauty of soup, the vegetables cooking filling the air, builds anticipation. Every bit helps, when making dinner a comforting end to the day. And nothing is more comforting than a simmering bowl of soup with a nice hunk of bread. That being said, we eat a lot of soup. I can usually get two meals and one lunch out of a pot, before I notice he’s looking in the fridge with a hopeful look on his face. “Soup tonight.” He never says, “again.” But I can see it in his eyes.

Another of the French Mystery Books that Anni, our youngest turned me onto, is a series by, M.L.Longworth, The Provencal Mysteries. These little mysteries are light fare, but the descriptions of the meals, wines and the cheeses are mouth-watering-good.

Man, these people know how to eat. I always have a notepad out, because I know there will be something new and different I can add to my ever evolving cuisine. 

A couple months ago, and I’ll be damned if I can remember exactly what book it was I was reading. 

Javier Bardem
I fully expect a cease and desist letter after casting him in my blog 2 weeks in a row.

I stumbled onto a new way to make lentil soup. (When I find it, you’ll be the first to know). I have to admit, I make a killer lentil soup. After reading just one sentence in the book, my lentil soup has morphed into having a subtly nuanced old world flavor.  I”ll set the scene: Magistrate Antoine Verlaque enters his kitchen and walks over to his gorgeous wife, Marine. I’d cast Marion Cotillard in the role, and Javier Bardem as Antoine (it’s okay, he can be both Bruno and Antoine). Read last week’s article Bruno & Clio’s Fennel Fish Stew. So, Antoine looks over Marine’s shoulder as she spoons out of her lentil soup an,

 “onion fully studded with cloves.”

WHAT! I read it again; onion studded with cloves. I never would have thought you could do that to an onion. I could just see the little jar of cloves we bought for making mulled grape juice during Christmas. I raced into the pantry and sure enough after some digging, I found almost a full jar. And God bless Rick, sitting on the shelf was a bag of Green French Lentils, he had bought at a farm stand which he passes by everyday.

I can do this. Pure power!

Studded onion with cloves

Clio’s French Lentil Soup Ingredients

Serving Size: Feeds 4 Happy People

  • 1lb. Green Lentils
  • Two Carrots, diced
  • 2 Stalks of celery (with leaves) diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 Large White or Yellow Onion
  • 2 Tbsp, approx Cloves, with the little stem still attached
  • 2 Tsp. salt


Clio’s French Lentil Soup Recipe

Prep and Cooking Time: 2 Hours

  1. Sauté on low, in 2 TBSP olive oil, carrots, celery, garlic around 5-7 min.
  2. While vegetables are cooking, peel the outer skin off of the onion.
  3. And with your thumb push in a clove, I started at the top and then worked around the onion ending at the bottom. 
  4. Pour over 8 cups of water, add the Lentils, and your studded onion. Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours. You know, I debated using vegetable broth, but I’m glad I didn’t. With that onion and the simmering for such a nice long time, the soup really didn’t need any more additional flavor. Live and learn.
  5. Ladle out onion, and voila’ serve. 

***This is one soup which is definitely better the second day.***

I serve most soups with Vegan Cornbread. I’m sorry, but I’ve got to say, this is a freaking awesome recipe. For the first time in my life, I have success with cornbread. I found it in my beloved Veganomicon Cookbook.


Vegan Skillet Cornbread

Makes 8 Big Slices/ time: 35 min

Basic cornbread ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil (more for skillet)
  • 2 Cups unsweetened non dairy milk
  • 2Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Cups cornmeal
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ Cup organic sugar (we use Anthony’s Xylitol
  • 2 Tsp baking powder
  • ½ Tsp salt


Vegan Cornbread Recipe:

Preheat oven 350F

  • Lightly oil the bottom and sides of the cast-iron skillet, place in the oven to warm a little while the oven preheats. (you’ll be so glad you did)
  • Combine milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle
  • In a large mixing bowl sift together dry ingredients. 
  • Create a well in center and add milk mixture and oil
  • Use a wooden spoon and mix until just combined.
  • Pour batter into skillet.
  • Bake for 30-32 minutes
  • Remove and cool a little before serving

Back for a second to the diet.

In October, Rick was getting his teeth cleaned, his first visit to our new dentist. The hygienist was reading through his medical information and then stumbled on where he had written he had cancer. She was surprised, because by looking at Rick, slim, tan and fit, the last thing you’d think is this guy has cancer.

So, he told her what kind, and his treatment is considered Active Surveillance, and then told her about his diet. She said her brother was diagnosed with the same thing six years before. Rick said he held his breath, not knowing where this was going. But instead of a worse case scenario story, she told him her brother had been drinking everyday, 6-8 ounces of pasteurized concord grape juice. He grows his own grapes and cans it every year. Rick just about fell off the chair. Because, Rick grows thirty-one vines of varietal wine grapes, pasteurized and bottles around 8-10 gallons. The pasteurization kills the yeast, so the juice doesn’t ferment into wine. 

Bottom line, the brother has watched his numbers go steadily down, to almost non-existent. Short of throwing the whole kitchen sink into the process, we are actively doing everything humanly possible to stop the progression. In other words he’s drinking grape juice everyday. So there’s that. 

If you’re interested in doing a little online research google; Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; Lifestyle therapy for prostate cancer: Does it work? July 2007


  1. I am laughing so hard: I fully expect a cease and desist letter after casting him in my blog 2 weeks in a row.

    I will bring you home-cooked food in our prison visits.

  2. I’m grabbing the lifeline even though I don’t have a prostate but us girls do have glands ‘down there’ that we need to protect nonetheless so I’ve got my eyes on your paper on this one. I buy our legumes at a local Armenian deli….they’re usually a lot cheaper than health food stores and grown in the ‘old country’ where the soil is better than the US. I’ve been making your breakfast grain bowl since reading your first post and this week threw in some lentils as an experiment. I didn’t have polenta or wild wild rice and needed some filler. 👅. I call it ‘brinner’ (breakfast dinner).

    Back to Rick, more importantly, since he’s the subject of your new diet (you’re the cure-ator) when men have their annual exams, are the PSA numbers checked each time or does this start at a given age?


    1. Hi, This lentil soup recipe is wonderful. And I have always loved my soup.Now, with adding the clove studded onion elevates a simple lentil soup to a more complex nuanced flavor. The second day is even better.
      thanks 🙂

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