Empty bowls for full bellies

For the last few years, I’ve gone to an “Empty Bowls” event in support of the local food bank. If you’ve never experienced this kind of evening, you should definitely look for one in your area.

The events are always in support of local organizations dedicated to helping the hungry, whether it’s a shelter, food bank or drop-in centre. Local potters donate their hand-crafted bowls, and restaurants donate soup and bread. Your ticket buys you the bowl of your choice, and access to taste as many of the soups as you like. There’s also a team on hand to rinse and dry your bowl between servings.

It’s always a warm environment, in every way; people always share which of the soups they liked the best, making recommendations for what to try next. This year, I also had the privilege of sharing my table with a local farmer. He was rather old school when it came to farming, meaning he “doesn’t do that organic stuff”, but I could have chatted with him all night.

 I did, however, feel a little guilty. My friend had an “in” with one of the organizers, who let us pick out our bowls the night before because we weren’t going to be able to make it until the last half of the evening. Little did I know this would result in some major bowl envy! As I went from station to station, I could see and hear people oohing and ahhing about my bowl. When I left it unattended for a couple of minutes to chat with someone I met at last year’s event, my farmer friend warned me that if I’d waited any longer to come back, it may not have been there.

Butternut squash cocount soup

The soup, in The Bowl. Also featuring a must-read for all.

By far, my favourite soup of the evening was Butternut Squash Coconut. Two favourite things in one warm (and lovely) bowl? And totally vegan? Yeah-huh! Despite the sloshing in my belly on my way home, I was inspired and immediately had to figure this one out. I know, a lot of my posts so far have been soup-centred, but it’s getting cold out there!

Butternut Squash Coconut Soup

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp fresh ginger (or more to taste)
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cumin
2 tsp lemon juice
1 can light coconut milk (14 oz)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Roast the squash: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass container and cover with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. When cool, chop and set aside.

2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Sautee the onion over medium heat until translucent.

 3. Add the apple, squash, spices and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer until apples are tender.

4. Place the contents into a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender and puree until smooth.

5. Return the contents to the pot and add the coconut milk and bring back up to heat. Add salt and pepper as needed.

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Delicious and warm thoughts of Morocco

When I started collecting links on Delicious six years ago, I quickly found that the tag I used the most was “recipes”. I currently have 636 recipes, about a third of those under “vegan”. Have I actually made over a year’s worth of food? Well… no, but the intention was always there.

Often, I’d buy some of the more obscure ingredients and almost immediately forget which recipe they were for. Anyone else have to throw out unidentified spices, oozing bags of “what was that again?” or jars of  “ew, who knew THAT would happen!”?

I also subscribe to a lot of food-focused email newsletters, although most of them aren’t vegan. But, every once in a while a meatless gem appears. This time, I had to try the 20-minute Supperclub’s Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup.

20-Minute Supper Club's Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup

A couple of key things instantly piqued my interest: cinnamon, garlic, chickpeas and tomatoes. But mostly the cinnamon. In soup? Really? There are MORE places for my favourite spice ever? OH yes. And it really did take about 20 minutes to put together.

The only thing missing from the picture is the spinach. It’s way better if you throw in in when you warm it up, rather than leave it in if you’re going to put it in the fridge. Keep your fresh greens fresh!

For joy, the 20-Minute Supperclub also has a good selection of other vegan recipes to try. I’m definitely adding lots of these to my Delicious file!

Kashmir Vegetable Soup from Fresh

Imagine you’re a famous singer, on tour with your band. You travel from town to town, venue to venue, for weeks on end. The one thing you can count on when you get to each destination is that they have your rider: a list of things you, as the artist, demands as part of the performance contract. You can check out really wacky ones from the uber famous over at The Smoking Gun.

Last week, one artist playing at the theatre I work at part time left behind an entire container of veggies and dip. Must have been too busy chasing those two whole chickens with all that beer and wine, eh boys? Because they were untouched, I decided to take the veggies home and see what I could to with the baby carrots, celery, cauliflower, and broccoli once I threw out that pasty white dip. After scanning my favourite cookbooks, I found an amazing recipe that used all of those things. Convenient or what?

Fresh at home to the rescue

I really miss having a Fresh to go to next door for lunch every day!  I wasn’t vegan when I lived and worked in Toronto, but I absolutely loved Fresh on Spadina and went there a few times a week. Usually for The Beach rice bowl, but every once in a while I’d try something new. Colour me stupidly happy when they started publishing cookbooks! I have all three now and am starting to collect the ingredients and work my way through them all.

Kashmir Vegetable Soup | Fresh at Home | Ruth Tal Brown/Jennifer Houston | page 35

Serves 4 to 6

Kashmir Vegetable Soup from "Fresh at Home"

This thick, warm and spicy soup is perfect for the fall. It’s also a great way to clear out your fridge in case you don’t have wasteful singing groups to supply you.  Two wee changes: I didn’t have ground coriander and I’m not much of a fan of it, so I used basil and a lemon instead. I also used quinoa flour because it’s what I had on hand, but next time I’d either use half as much or cut it out altogether. It really got quite thick on its own with the lentils.

Ingredients:

4 tbps olive oil
2 cooking onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced [or a bunch of diced baby carrots]
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground coriander [or 1 tbsp basil and the juice and rind of 1 small lemon]
1 tsp ground red chili flakes
1 tbsp curry powder
1 cup red lentils
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup light spelt flour [I used quinoa flour and would use less or leave it out next time]
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
8 cups Roasted Vegetable Stock [their recipe is included in the book; I used organic veggie stock and a bit of water]
1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup cauliflower, cut into small florets
Pinch sea salt

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.

2. Stir in onions, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook for 1 minute to coat vegetables in oil.

3. Stir in cinnamon, coriander (or substitutes), red chili flakes and curry powder. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Add lentils, tomato paste and flour (if using). Stir for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.

5. Add crushed tomatoes, then vegetable stock. Stir constantly to avoid lumps.

6. Cook about 15 minutes. When lentils are soft and nearly cooked, add broccoli and cauliflower. Cook another 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add salt to taste.

7. Remove from heat and serve.

The batch I made on Sunday is fabulous and is keeping very well, though I’m pretty sure it won’t see the weekend. It’s too good! And it goes really well with the Mock Tuna Salad I’ll tell you about tomorrow.