Update, March 10, 2020: Crescent Dragonwagon herself has a message for all of us:
I’m Crescent Dragonwagon, the author of the cookbook that... well, you probably figured it out.
I noticed from the comments on your article about this in Takeout that the natives are restless for the recipe. Here it is —- this is my story on Reid, the soup, his fan letter et al, complete with recipe. They, and you, are welcome to go there. I am delighted that Joe Yonan and the Washpo picked it up and ran with it!
Dragonwagon’s post contains not only the recipe but the story of her correspondence with Reid Branson and how it inspired her to rediscover her own Greek Lentil and Spinach Soup. It is completely charming and worth a read.
Original post, March 9, 2020: Workday lunches can be a challenge. You want something portable, relatively inexpensive, easy to eat, preferably nutritious, and definitely edible and maybe even tasty. Reid Branson, a nurse manager in the HIV clinic at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, is one of those lucky folks who has found a solution that works for him, and he’s stuck to it. For 17 years.
Branson’s wonder lunch is Greek Lentil and Spinach Soup with Lemon, a recipe he got from Crescent Dragonwagon’s 1992 book Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread. The soup is vegetarian, but there’s plenty of protein from the lentils and bulk from potatoes and butternut squash. Branson makes up a big batch every other Saturday and then consumes them methodically over the next two weeks. By now, he told Joe Yonan at The Washington Post, he knows the recipe by heart. “It’s fun to make,” he said. “It’s got a rhythm to it.” And mysteriously, each batch tastes a bit different, so he’s never gotten bored.
A few years ago, Branson wrote a fan letter to Dragonwagon to tell her how her soup has sustained him all this time. She was honored. “I am glad to have been eating lunch with you all these years, without even knowing it,” she wrote him in an email.
But, alas, all good things must come to an end. Branson is 63 now, and he’ll be retiring soon, in 110 days to be exact. He plans to make an extra big pot for his retirement party to share with all his coworkers. The Post kindly reprinted the recipe in case anyone else would like to take up the mantle.