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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 02/24/2011


By Ezra Klein

Recap: Andy Stern on the future of labor; the worst thing for an unemployed worker is another unemployed worker; and some pessimism about cooking.


1) Avik Roy argues against Judge Gladys Kessler's ruling upholding the individual mandate. I'm linking to this for two reasons: One, to remind myself to blog on it tomorrow. Two, to recommend bookmarking Roy's blog for a smart conservative take on health-care policy.

2) Speaking of new blogs: 2chambers, The Washington Post's new Congress blog.

3) The alternative budget-repair bill developed by Wisconsin's Democrats seems sensible.

4) David Cay Johnston on public-employee unions.

5) I don't agree with everything in Joe Klein's piece on Wisconsin, but it's well worth reading.

Recipe of the day: I'm looking for a good lentil soup recipe. Alton Brown's looks decent, but maybe there are some lentil-soup obsessives out there who can offer a more informed opinion.

By Ezra Klein  | February 24, 2011; 6:00 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Health-insurance industry: Still not that profitable
Next: Wonkbook: Senate Dems announce their own spending cuts


This one from 101 Cookbooks is a favourite. I use french green lentils and add a chopped onion and some garlic

Posted by: kohrt97202 | February 24, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein,

Surely you see the point of those who oppose public education unions, teachers and administrators. Unions have too much influence over their government managers via the power to strike and the power to change those managers (through their election impact). Thus education wastes horrific amounts of money and the school children suffer. Would you adress this?

All of this is meant to sustain a "countervailing interest" to corporate USA. But it's a despicable means to do so. These are school children, particularly the children of the poor. And these are the taxpayer's hard earned funds. Ought not the establishment of an anti-corporate lobby be separate?

Posted by: Commenting1 | February 24, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Two things.
First, the commenter above who lumps teachers and administrators together does so wrongly. Most administrators do not belong to local unions and are either directly accountable to the district or school board. This doesn't mean that they are more or less compotent, just that they tend to reflect the wishes of their bosses. From my limited experience, larger districts, such as ones covering significant portions of major cities, tend to have incompotent administrators for qualified persons willing to work for poor pay with poor chances at advancing. Small districts tend to have decent administrators but more of them than is necessary, so many of the administrators do not "add value" to the education system but merely draw a paycheck.

Second thing. Very good basic lentil soup recipe that serves as a good starting point, which is exactly what Alton Brown's recipes are great for. I'd recommend either adding meat or some stronger spices, such as cinnamon, to deepen the flavor.

Posted by: ctown_woody | February 24, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I made this classic French version once, which uses lentilles du Puy—the little green ones. If memory serves, it was pretty good. It uses two russet potatoes as thickeners. And it's easy:

Posted by: JJenkins2 | February 24, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

1. The services of X are critical to all citizens.

2. X are employees of a level of government.

3. All employees should have the privilege of collective bargaining.
Therefore, as employees of a level of government, X should have the privilege of collective bargaining.

Substitutes "Teachers" for X, then substitute "Soldiers" for X.

Roosevelt was logically correct in his assertion that unions and collective bargaining have absolutely no place in the public sector. If employees of government are given the privilege of collective bargaining, these employees have a distinct advantage over the other citizens who depend upon their services: soldier and teachers, for example, can use denial of their services to thwart democracy -- to subvert the will of the citizen majority.

On the bright side, it's good we're dealing with an uprising of greedy teachers rather than an uprising of greedy (and armed) soldiers... or government physicians.

Posted by: rmgregory | February 24, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The lentil soup recipe from City Cuisine cookbook. From Mary Sue Millikan and Susan Fenniger before they were iron chefs and "too hot tamales..." Just when they had the best darned restaurant in LA. I couldn't find in quick online search but will look up and repost.

Posted by: mkindc | February 24, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

It can be tasty to take lentil soup in a Mexican direction: start with Alton Brown's recipe, ditch the celery, coriander, and grains of paradise. Then add a bit of pureed chipotle chile for some smoky zing and some Mexican oregano (not the same as Mediterranean oregano, a completely different genus). For less heat and still a bit of smoke, try smoked paprika from Spain. You could also add some cloves of garlic that have been roasted in a dry skillet in their papery husks, then peeled and mashed. The legendary vegetarian cookbook "The Greens Cookbook" has a recipe for Mexican lentil soup that is quite good if you want detailed instructions.

When I'm making a basic pot of green lentils (which is a soup, more or less), I like to put a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme and a small sprig of rosemary into the pot while the lentils cook (I have a rosemary plant and thyme plant in the backyard, so that's easy for me).

Posted by: meander510 | February 24, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Dal Soup is always a good way to go with lentils. Try it Moroccan style:

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 24, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I love to cook a lentil curry stew based on potatoes, broth and coconut milk, but my mom's Turkish Bride Soup is superior, it's pretty much this recipe:

Posted by: BBDD | February 24, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Also I'm suspicious of Alton's recipe since it doesn't mention the type of lentils. Probably green? Red Lentils are far better for soup making I think, green lentils don't break down in the same delicious way.

Posted by: BBDD | February 24, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I followed the link to Avik Roy's article. You think this is an example of "a smart conservative take on health-care policy?"

It must have been a long, hard day, and you must be exhausted beyond reason.

Unless, of course, you mean it's a "smart...take" compared to other conservative blogs, which sets the bar awfully low.

Posted by: dlk117561 | February 24, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Avik Roy's article is very unconvincing. He seems to be arguing that we should do away with the requirement that hospitals treat first and demand payment later, because this is the cause of the free-rider problem. He is right in the latter sense, but the idea that the pay-first model would work is patently absurd. What happens if someone is dragged in unconcious? Should we leave them to die if we don't find an insurance card in their pocket? Is that the world Roy wants to live in, or a price he believes is worth it in order to protect the stunted libertarian version of "freedom"?

Yes, Roy, you are right. If we were THAT cruel, the free-rider problem would be solved. But none of the other market failures would be, particularly the third party payer and adverse selection that is inherent in any form of insurance.

Posted by: brickcha | February 24, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Lentil Soup: Comfort in a bowl

A bowl of warm soup sounds so comforting in wintry weather. Curl up near a fireplace with a bowl of aromatic soup and a good book is heaven.
Enjoy the simple and healthy lentil soup recipe from my kitchen.

For lentil Soup: [for 4 servings]

Lentils (Whole masoor) dry – 1 cup

Dry Spices:
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder -1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Kasoori Methi -1/2 tbsp

Wet Ingredients:
Onion -1/2 (finely chopped)
Carrots – ½ cup (finely chopped)
Celery – ½ cup (finely chopped)
Tomatoes -1 cup (finely chopped)
Ginger – 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Garlic – 1 tbsp (finely chopped)
Green chili -1 tsp (finely chopped) [Optional]
Cilantro- 2 tbsp (finely chopped) for garnish
Vegetable stock or water – 6 cups
olive oil – 2 tbsp
Salt as per taste

Lentil soup


* Wash and soak lentils in water for couple of hours.
* In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil. Add cumin seeds. Let it crackle. Then add chopped onions, carrots and celery. Sauté till it becomes translucent. Add ginger, garlic and chopped green chilies (optional). Cook for 2 minutes.
* Add chopped tomatoes, red chili powder and coriander powder and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes on medium-low heat.
* Add the soaked lentils and vegetable stock/water to it. Simmer the soup on low heat for 35-40 minutes.
* Finally, add kasoori methi and let it simmer for 2 more minutes.

Garnish the Lentil soup with freshly chopped cilantro and serve with halved lemons.
Enjoy piping hot soup in winter nights.

Note: This soup can also be prepared in slow cooker.

Simple Indian Food Blog @

Posted by: karenfink | February 25, 2011 1:16 AM | Report abuse

For Middle Eastern lemony spinach and brown lentil soup, Claudia Roden's recipe is delicious:

Posted by: LachP | February 25, 2011 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Early this morning, 75% of the Wisconsin State Assembly voted to curb the collective bargaining privileges currently abused by big labor corporations in a manner which inflates the cost of critical government services.

Seventeen (17) members of the Assembly attempted to obstruct passage of the measure, which now goes to the State Senate. In that body, 58% of State Senators have pledged to vote in favor of the bill; however, the vote itself is delayed due to the illegal absence of 14 Democrats. Typical -- if lawful means fail, big labor corporations turn to violence and criminality.

Posted by: rmgregory | February 25, 2011 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Ironic how Republicans are now using the gvmt in heavy handed fashion to erode the rights of working people.

Seems all this conservative talk of precious liberty means nothing to them.

Reminds me of how the Iranian people democratically elected their latest leader and now they are stuck with a dictator.

Why is it conservatives have no problem corrupting gvmt for the sake of billionaires and major corporations, but they are dead set against ordinary people having some influence to protect their measley jobs?

The GOP is doing nothing more than abusing this crisis, that they in large part created, to pursue ideological end runs.

I hope people are finally waking up to these thugs and liars and haters of Democracy. I woke up in 1992 and no longer will I ever call myself a Republican until such time that they purge their party leadership of neocons and nazis and whackos.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 25, 2011 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Now, I am well aware of the economic and political realities we face in this nation. However, the Democratic Party has to stand up to this republican political and corporate onslaught. Our President has to understand that compromise with these zealots only succeeds in solidifying further losses to those who stand this country up, the American worker.
The republican mantra of cutting taxes is not healthy for this country as is historically evident. Yet, democrats capitulated and even piled it on in the fateful December compromise. Now we have these budget shortfalls, much of which has been self-inflicted because of all these revenue cuts, and the American worker is taking the brunt of the blame. State capitals are under protest, as public workers are being made the scapegoat. Their rights as union members are being stripped all with the help of large corporate contributors and benefactors. The Democratic political base is under attack and all we hear from elected leaders is compromise with the attackers.
Soon it will be too late. Soon the backbone of this nation will have been so beaten and bloodied that recovery, if possible at all, will be measured in decades not years. The rich have amassed all the wealth. Corporations have amassed all the power. What do we the American working class get? Evidently, the right to live work and die as surfs in the new American reality.
So, as workers are being crushed and the scissors are being sharpened to cut down the remaining safety nets, where are the champions of America’s working people. Where are those with a voice and the political fortitude to stand up to these political hatchet men, these ideological thugs? Is it the Democrats we have elected and entrusted our futures to that will be our salvation? Will they collectively fight to put an end to this annihilation of workers rights? Will we stop the madness and give our country back its middle class?

Posted by: jdschaf | February 25, 2011 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't do soup so much as lentils over rice. But Ethiopian-style is what I love.

Posted by: Panglott | February 25, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Bittman's basic dal from HtCE is very good. The lentil-spinach soup from Greens mentioned by another commenter is also good, though a bit of work relative to what you get (as with a lot of Madison's recipes). For western-flavored lentils, which I cook up maybe twice a month, I simply cook them in water. Then I flavor them with browned cured pork and mustard or good tomato sauce on a meal-by-meal basis. Rao's marinara is very good, and nicely splits the cook/purchase dilemma you discuss elsewhere: at $9/32 oz, it's as cheap and nutritious as a quart of homemade marinara, and better than most.

Posted by: SamPenrose | February 25, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

This is my go-to lentil soup recipe from the late Gourmet:

There is a good red lentil, chili powder, and lemon recipe that was published in that large NY paper, too.

Posted by: J_Bean | February 25, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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