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Thanksgiving Potluck: Bent’s Old Fort Lentil Soup

In honor of Thanksgiving here at Food Safety News we’re hosting our fourth virtual potluck (we’ve also held virtual picnics on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day).

We’ll be having turkey, of course, and for tips on how to cook a turkey, you can’t beat the Food and Drug Administration’s Keep Food Safe Blog.  For instance, did you procrastinators know it’s safe to cook a frozen turkey?  It will just take 50 percent longer than a fully thawed turkey.  Check out the FDA’s helpful Turkey Roasting Chart and reminders that no matter what method you use — roasting, brining, deep frying or smoking — the bird isn’t safe until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees (and that goes for the stuffing, too). 

In addition to the turkey, we’ve got two soups–Dan’s lentil and Marijke’s curry kale. Claire has contributed corn pudding, while Gretchen made Brussels sprouts and Helena suggests roasted squash and veggies.  Alexa has shared Parmesan-rosemary potatoes and cranberry Waldorf salad.  For dessert there’s Michelle’s “that blueberry thing,” a variation on a crisp, and Suzanne is bringing an unusual-but-delicious concoction involving butternut squash and pretzels.

We’re sharing the recipes here, so you can join in our virtual potluck or use them at your next one.

Have a happy and food-safe Thanksgiving Day.

The Food Safety News team

Dan’s Lentil Soup


Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until 1863, but it was common long before then as either a religious observance or a holiday by proclamation of a state governor.  Whether it was observed, however, from 1833 to 1949 at Bent’s Old Fort, we do not know.

Bent’s Fort, located in what is now Otero County, CO, was the most remote American outpost in the old West.  It was 600 miles from the nearest town in Missouri, and Mexico was just a few more miles down the Santa Fe Trail.

Brothers William and Charles Bent were traders, and when they needed help in the 1840s to keep everyone fed, they hired the legendary Kit Carson as a hunter.  


Several species of wild turkey may be been in the high plains area where Bent’s Fort was located.  The Rio Grande, Gould’s and Merriam’s species of wild turkey might have drawn some hot lead from Carson’s gun.

Whether Carson hunted turkey or not, chances are somebody at Bent’s Fort was certain to be making that staple of the old West–Lentil Soup.


— 1-quart beef stock

— 4 cut up slices of bacon

— 1 medium onion

— ½ cup tomato puree

— 1 cup dried lentils

— 1 tsp salt

— 3 peppercorns

— ½ bay leaf

— ½ cup dried carrots

— ½ cup chopped celery


Lentils need to be soaked over night in water.

Drain lentils and mix with salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, carrots and celery in the stock and bring it to a simmer in soup kettle.

Give a light frying to the bacon, and remove it from pan.

In two tablespoons of bacon fat, lightly sauté the onion, add tomato puree, and simmer in the pan.

Put the tomato and onion mixture with the bacon into the soup kettle for at least an hour or until lentils are tender.

Serves 6.

© Food Safety News