8-10 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, beef or lamb or bouillon)
2-3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 14 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes (optional)
In a 6-8 quart saucepan, sauté the lentils, onions, carrots and celery in olive oil until tender. (These vegetables can be shredded in a food processor).
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add bay leaves, spices and tomatoes. Stir and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove bay leaves and adjust spices. Add more broth or water if the soup is too thick. Serve as is or allow to cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender or in a blender.
Note: In addition to presenting Pam’s original recipe, Susan added the following ingredients to her version, these are optional:
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-1/2 teaspoons curry
1 teaspoon pepper
Pam was the esteemed wife of Jerry Dayinian and the mother of Olivia (George) Andonyan and Margaret-Ann (Brian) Yessian. She was the grandmother of Evan, Gia, Lula, Felix and Beau. She was the sister of Edwin Neffian. Pam’s daughter Olivia shares some loving family memories of her mother’s life:
“Our mother served as Chairwoman of the Women’s Guild for three terms in the 1980’s and 1990’s and spent three to four days a week at church working in the kitchen and preparing various foods. We lived in a two story colonial style house and most nights while we were upstairs we would listen to her on the phone downstairs into the late hours, calling members of the Women’s Guild about upcoming meetings and events. Her specialty was preparing 30 platters of spinach pies for the annual food festival. She would recruit 10-15 women and a few capable men to help with the prep and planning tasks. She would send Dad to Babylon Market to buy the phyllo dough. And to GFS to buy 20 bags of spinach and six 5-pound blocks of Wisconsin brick cheese, feta, onions and the eggs. Together they would thaw the spinach and wring out the liquid in large cheesecloths.”
“Father served on the Sunday school board, bazaar treasurer, usher and estimates he has cut 300 to 400 lamb shanks into kebabs for church picnics over the last 45 years. You served as Chair of the Church Picnics from 2000 to 2005. Dad said he learned how to cut lamb from Suren and Art Aprahamian, who owned a neighborhood meat and vegetable market. (This was in the 1950s, before there were big supermarkets or department stores.) The group cut up 7-10 lamb shanks at a time. He said he would go to Kroeger’s and load 25 watermelons into the back of his minivan for the picnics.”
“This recipe was passed down to her mother from her gifted mother Lucy Neffian. Lucy’s mother’s name was Olombion Sahagian. Lucy was born in Gesaria, Turkey. She had two sisters. Miraculously, my great-grandmother, grandmother, and great-aunts were spared the Armenian Genocide and survived to emigrate to Detroit. Our mother’s father’s name was Charles Bogho’s neffian. He was also a survivor of the Armenian Genocide. He was rescued from an orphanage in Istanbul, Turkey by one of his uncles and immigrated to the United States at the age of 18. Not only was our grandmother Lucy an expert at preparing many traditional Armenian dishes, she also cooked modern American dishes such as standing rib roast, pizza and homemade fries. She had a reputation in the family and church community for being the ultimate Armenian-American cook. Her specialty was Kharpert kufte. She did everything incredibly well and from scratch. The best khalka (simit), shekerlemeh, manti, individual cheese boregs, spicy meatballs and wedding pilaf. Our grandmother hosted family gatherings for the holidays, preparing every meal and setting the centerpieces and tables perfectly.”
“Mom continued the family tradition of excellent Armenian cuisine, cooking and food preparation. Throughout her life, Mom lived and breathed everything related to cooking and baking to feed her family with love and attention. She has set up a library in our house dedicated to her cookbooks, magazines and newspaper clippings with many recipes. One of her favorite celebrity chefs was Ina Garten.”
“Her love for her church and the Women’s Guild became her lifelong passion. She was a Sunday School teacher for 25 years and served as Chair of the Women’s Guild in 1984, 1985 and 1994. She was co-chair of the Women’s Guild Cookbook, Armenian Cuisine Preserving Our Heritage. She served on nominating committees and made khadayiff and spinach boregs for church bazaars. She was always there for her lifelong friends. She took great care of her family, nursing and visiting her elderly relatives. And made sure they showed up for their hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, and to pick up their medication from the pharmacy. She embodied Christian values and believed in serving others. She also found time to organize family reunions, parties and holiday celebrations. She raised her daughters to value a Christian upbringing, academics at school, music, piano lessons, dance and the creative arts.”
“I’m honored to have one of Mom’s cookbooks with her handwritten notes in the margins. And I’m honored to own it Armenian cuisine: preserve ours heritage cookbook She was so proud of it and helped with the publication with her committee. It reads: “Have fun cooking some delicious Armenian recipes from your family tradition. My love forever mom 2010.’ For three years, the cookbook committee met at our home once a month to finalize the cookbook before publication. Each recipe was tested to ensure it was the best version for release. The committee included several variations of ingredients to accommodate different tastes, recipes, techniques, and family traditions. This cookbook continues to be an invaluable resource in our kitchens today.”
“When Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2010, she didn’t let the diagnosis stop her. The same loving smile was always there. When she was ill, she kept a positive attitude and caring attitude for all of us. She proudly wore the teal color in support of all ovarian cancer survivors. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a second cancer in 2014. Pancreatic cancer took her life at the very young age of 69. She was never sad about herself, only worried about her younger brother and other family members. Her death leaves a great void in our family and church. Our mother can never be replaced. We will always honor her memory…”
Connect with Guild Gatherings to learn more about Pam’s amazing soup recipe and information about the Women’s Guild at: http://stjohnwomensguild.square.site or https://stjohnwomensguild.square.site/guild-gatherings-1
Armenian Cuisine: Cookbook for Preserving Our Heritage
Over 450 tested recipes from the Detroit metro area’s Armenian community, updated with modern techniques and equipment. Detailed description of the cooking and baking methods including tips for preparation. $35 with free shipping.
With 2 practical pockets and adjustable straps. Ideal for the kitchen, garage or garden. $20 with free shipping. To order go to: https://stjohnwomensguild.square.site/
Consider making a donation to support the growing mission of the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church: The Women’s Guild strives to promote fellowship and service to our church and community through a variety of activities and events. Your funds help us to continue our outreach activities in Armenia, such as: Examples include sponsoring orphans and supporting Mer Doon, which provides young women with a safe home and teaches them life skills.
Women’s Guild of the Armenian Church of St. John
22001 Northwest Freeway
Southfield, Michigan 48075
Tel: (248) 569-3405
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