One of my biggest pleasures in life is a game of bridge with dear and close friends. I have been playing since I was in school and have been lucky that both my former spouses also played. I even won a tacky trophy a few years back playing duplicate at one of those Bridge Championships held all over the country. Nowadays, I try to host a table at home at least once a week. I will give up a dinner or cocktail party any day of the week for an evening of bridge anytime, anyplace.
On Friday or Saturday nights, when none of us is otherwise engaged, we will get together late in the afternoon for a game of bridge and dinner. Obviously, these have to be followed by simple and robust dinners, since nobody wants to stop for even a minute to let the hostess spend too much time in the kitchen and waste precious time; yet, whatever is served, has to carry the group until none of us can keep our eyes open. With age, this has gotten to be ealier and earlier.
Hearty dishes that can be made ahead and warmed up at the last minute are very appropriate for this kind of evening. One of my favorites is lasagna, the other is this lentil soup with chorizos and sherry. I usually serve a green salad with cheese afterwards and a light dessert or homemade cookies. You don't want to get too full and give the opponents an edge!
2 carrots, sliced and chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ham or smoked pork bone
2 tablespoons olive oil (you will need extra to finish the soup)
2 cups dried lentils
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 Cup Dry Sherry
Saute carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in hot olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add the ham or smoked pork bone and brown on both sides. Sort and remove any debris from lentils; rinse under cold running water. Add lentils and broth to vegetable mixture; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Slice the chorizo in 1/2 inch rounds, add some olive oil to a small skillet, brown the chorizo. Add the sherry and reduce to half the amount. Add the chorizo and sherry reduction to the lentils. Cook for another 5 - 10 minutes. Serve. After you serve in the bowls, add a little olive oil on top.
Serve with a crusty baguette and a robust red wine.
Photo: Google Images