Meditation Retreats, Friendship, and Red Lentil Dal — an Indian Version of “Stone” Soup

     As a self-declared “peasant cook”  I have a natural affinity and appreciation for stone soup.  What could be better than combining all kinds of ingredients in the pot to create something new?  This recipe comes from – well all over the place, as it should–but essentially it is stone soup with an Indian flare.
     For me this soup has a way of stirring up memories hankering back to days of embarking on a spiritual journey, of attending and hosting meditation retreats, and of traveling to ashrams in India.   In fact before participating in a meditation community, I had never cooked Indian food and was unfamiliar with red lentils. I only knew of the larger brown lentils – and I didn’t much care for their very earthy flavor.  But red lentils, I found out, I like.  They are smaller, and both sweeter and a little nutty (something like the meditation community itself!)  They are a common main ingredient in vegetarian dal, and as such are full of protein and very filling.   They are the perfect starting ingredient to feed a large crowd.   They are the stone in this stone soup. The basic recipe for this red lentil soup, also known as Masur Dal, shown in the picture attached, was originally copied down at a gathering with fellow meditators.
     The legend of stone soup, while it starts out as a kind of trick, ends up being about a gathering of community–of coming together and sharing–of letting go of individual belongings to create something greater.  Do you recall the story?
     Weary travelers–let’s call them gypsies — come to a village carrying nothing more than an empty pot.   They are starving when they arrive but the villagers are not willing to share any of their food.  So the gypsies fill the pot with water and drop a stone in the pot. The actions spark the curiosity of the villagers. They ask the gypsies what they are cooking.  “Stone Soup” is the reply. “Come join us!” they say.  “It’s quite tasty, although it would benefit from a little salt.”  One villager decides he doesn’t mind parting with a little seasoning to help them out.   The gypsies stir the pot.  “It’s very good, but a carrot might add something too.”  Another villager decides he can offer up a carrot. “Maybe some pepper … “  And so word gets out and soon all the villagers have come round the pot, bearing their own addition to the soup pot.   As each villager lets go of something from his or her own cupboard, the soup is enriched and grows more delicious, and the villagers instead of resenting feeding the gypsies, anxiously await the new concoction and ultimately appreciate the potential for new friendship.
     A meditation gathering, coincidentally, is much the same–although perhaps the opposite is happening.  Weary travelers on our own spiritual journey, we gather together for support, initially unknowingly hanging on tightly to our thoughts and beliefs.  As we sit with our own self–we notice our thoughts and we practice gently letting them go.  Ultimately, we discover something more–a quiet fullness that is present in the gaps between our thoughts.  Later, we share with the group our experiences.  And, as a result of sharing our intimate selves with other, we gain friends.  
     So while a full pot is the hope of the stone soup ritual and an empty mind is the hope of a meditation retreat–it comes from the same principal of letting go of our attachments and opening to something unknown with curiosity.  And, whether we empty our minds or fill our pots,  when we come together in friendship and share, something greater than the individual is bound to be experienced.
     And so it was that my spiritual journey encouraged me to be curious and ultimately led me to meet new people and to have all kinds of new experiences, including enjoying new and delightful foods.  As Jay and I got to know the meditation community, it came to pass that we offered to host meditation retreats at our house.  We would gather in communal spirit for several days and nights together.  Because the intention was to meditate – not to host a party – the eating arrangements were to be vegetarian and very simple:  yoghurt, granola, fruit and nuts in the morning; fruit in the afternoon; a one pot meal plus salad in the evening.  All the guests brought potluck ingredients so that nobody was too burdened with cooking obligations.  We took turns being responsible for the evening meal.  
     At the end of one of these retreats, our good friend and meditation teacher Durga, announced that she was going to make an Indian Masur Dal. I watched her fill a large pan with small very pretty tiny red beans and was immediately intrigued.  What are those?  How do you cook them?  She rinsed the red lentils and added water to the large pot.  She had set out turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic, curry and coconut milk.  She indicated the rest of the ingredients would come from leftovers of earlier meals. 
     I can’t help but pause now, thinking of Durga.  Let me just say Durga is truly a force unto nature herself – small in stature, but large in spirit and exuberance (and hair J) she fills a room with her presence.  Her name, which represents a Hindu goddess, is a kind of spiritual stone soup in itself:  Durga is said to combine the energies of all the gods and the weapons depicted in her many arms are weapons given to her by various gods:  Rudra’s trident, Vishnu’s discus, Indra’s thunderbolt, Brahma’s kamandalu, Kuber’s Ratnahar.  Whatever the case, in the last 15 years, my stone soup friend, Durga, has taught me much about meditation and about the spiritual journey, but perhaps most about friendship — Durga understands the value of friendship, and honors it as a supreme spiritual path unto itself.   For Durga, friendship is the stone in her spiritual soup.
     But back to the red lentil soup . . . as Durga indicated that day, once you have the basics, you can add whatever else you want.  The last time I made this, I literally added all the leftovers in my fridge: tofu, potatoes, peas, broccoli, bell peppers, rice, onions, pesto . . .  Shortly afterwards, we went on a mini vacation, but there was still some left.  I asked our pet sitter to give Gypsy (our dog) some on top of her food.  Gypsy, who once was a  stray, always gets some sort of human food on her dog crunchies.  I figured she was used to foraging for human leftovers;  she so clearly loves them all.  Besides, it makes me smile to add some to her dinner every night – dogs should enjoy stone soup too!
     When we returned our pet sitter had left us a note.  “Everything went well.  By the way, what was that soup that I put on top of Gypsy’s food?  It looked delicious!  Can I have the recipe?”   
     So here it is, friends – a stone soup with an Indian flare honoring the soul searching Gypsy in all of us.
Basic Recipe:
1 cup red lentils
3 Tbl olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic
½ tsp minced ginger
I usually use more
1/2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp – 1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed pepper
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
Common additional ingredients:
1 can or 2 tomatoes, diced
1 carrot, chopped or grated
1 -2 bell pepper, chopped
½ bunch green onions, chopped
Lemon or lime juice
Cilantro or parsley to garnish
Options for the “stone soup” part:
I tend to add whatever leftovers I have
cooked potatoes
cooked rice or quinoa
Jalapenos or cayenne
Cooked broccoli
  • Heat the oil in a big pot and cook onions and garlic for a couple of minutes
  • Add green onions, peppers, and carrots. Stir for 5 minutes
  • Add tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, curry, cumin, coriander, garam masala, cumin, mustard seeds, crushed peppers, and salt. 
  • Stir for another 5 minutes, and add red lentils and water or broth
  • Bring to boil then simmer until done
  • Pour in coconut milk and simmer 10 more minutes 
  • Add cooked leftovers
  • Garnish with cilantro. Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on the soup.

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Elephants, Dolphins and Sri Lankan Lentil Pancakes with Coconut Sambol

     About every 2 -3 months, I remember with delight to make Sri Lankan lentil and rice pancakes.  In a gluten free household, they are one of our favorite breakfast foods, so hearty and satisfying – full of protein and carbs –yummy! 
     Still, I can hardly even think the words “Sri Lanka” without immediately being transported to 1984, the year we got married and the year we lived near our friends Diane and Charlie in Los Angeles.  Diane had been my best friend in high school and co-incidentally we both moved to the Los Angeles area and met engineers who got jobs for the same company, Hughes.  We were in each other’s wedding parties and married within a month of each other in the same beautiful little glass church atop Palos Verdes. Our interests ran alike: skiing, sailing, travel.  Before long we both had sailboats.  There was an undercurrent of competitiveness as one or the other of us got a bigger sailboat, or a better job, or a cuter house . . . . but I remember the intense pang of envy that came up when Diane and Charlie got the chance to travel to Sri Lanka.  They came back with totally cool stories and decorated their little house with Sri Lankan batiks and photos of themselves riding elephants! It looked so exotic, so amazing, so fun.
     They did not come back with Sri Lankan recipes, however, and the course of our lives fairly soon thereafter took us to different parts of the country to have and raise our families.  While we didn’t lose touch, we rarely saw each other for the next 25 years.  So forgive me as I meander over to another completely different memory triggered also by these pancakes, for the recipes came to me another way, years later after we had children. 
     I learned how to make this simple culinary delight in Hawaii on a trip where we spent time swimming with wild dolphins.  On this occasion we had been invited to stay with a friend who lived on the northwest corner of Oahu.  They had a little cottage a few blocks from the ocean.  She was a fellow American whom we met at a meditation retreat, married to a copper artist from Sri Lanka, who was also the primary cook in their household.  He made fabulous dishes usually featuring wild plants and exotic trees from their abundant garden and always accompanied by lentil pancakes and sambol – a coconut curry condiment.  What a sweet vacation this was for us! 
     Their neighbor, Terry Pinney, who lived on the ocean, was a fascinating woman who made her living arranging for autistic kids to swim with the wild dolphins that frequented the sea near her house.  She said she had a psychic connection with the dolphins that allowed her a closer relationship.  While this was fascinating in itself, her stories of working with autistic children were particularly heartwarming. 
     She had other stories about dolphin research too.  My favorite was about a  friend of hers who studied dolphins in captivity.  The researcher felt a little sorry for them and on a whim decided to teach the mother and baby dolphin how to paint – no kidding!! I saw the videos of it.  The researcher strapped a giant paintbrush to the head of the dolphins and then hung one giant palette of paint colors and one giant empty canvas from the dock.  The dolphins learned how to go up to the paint and get a color on their brush and then paint it on the blank canvas.  Incredible!  She did discover something as well.  The baby only painted with primary colors while the mother painted with all colors – so fascinating.  I read recently you can now arrange for a “painting with the dolphins” vacation . . . isn’t life grand?
     Anyway, Terry knew just where and when to go to find the wild dolphins.  Our friend  let us borrow her kayaks to get offshore a bit to try. At Terry’s direction, we kayaked out to an empty bay and then, as instructed, mentally called the dolphins to come find us.  Sure enough before too long a large pod came to visit.  9 year old Jaime was fearless and absolutely in kid heaven.  She jumped out of the kayak and went swimming with the pod.  One dolphin singled her out.  I can still see the look of total delight on Jaime’s face when she reported that one of the dolphins talked to her!  She said the dolphin looked her in the eyes and squeaked.  She squeaked back!  It was obviously a peak experience for her.  Unfortunately, her 6 year old little sister had a peak negative experience, deriving from a fellow kayaker who commented that the bay was teeming with tiny stinging jellyfish.  Truthfully, they did sting, but it was very slight and had no lasting ill effect and mostly just felt like tiny bits of sand brushing against you.  It was terrifying to a 6 year old, however,  and to this day Sanni is petrified of jellyfish . . . .
     When I think back to that time (minus the car theft . . . ) I remember especially the amazing time with those dolphins, the warm Hawaii breeze and sitting around a low coffee table hearing a little about life in Sri Lanka and eating fabulous homemade Sri Lankan finger food. Included is the recipe I copied down back then for the Urud Dal pancakes and Sambol condiment.
     It’s funny how life comes full circle.  Recently we got back in touch with Diane and Charlie and managed to see each other in person.  Jay started working for a company in Campbell, CA  very close to where Diane and Charlie live  in Los Gatos.  As serendipity would have it, his travels coincided with Charlie’s 50th birthday and we got to share in his celebration.  As we contemplated what gift to give to our friend whom we hadn’t seen for so long, we decided to peruse old photos from our time together in Los Angeles.  I came across a perfect one from a Halloween party long ago.  The photo is cute of the two of them and I immediately noticed in the background those beautiful Sri Lankan batiks I mentioned earlier. . .
     We had the good chance to stay overnight at Diane and Charlie’s current house–a beautiful storybook house that sits atop the hills of Los Gatos with romantic vines crawling over the back portico, a full vineyard and a to die for panoramic view of the Monterey bay– amazing!!  Sri Lankan touches still decorate the house, statues and photos of elephants here and there. 
     Diane came to visit us recently as well.  We put her in the “elephant” room and because I had recently been reminded of their trip to Sri Lanka from my trip down photo album lane, I made Sri Lankan pancakes and coconut Sambol.  We swapped stories and reminisced.  It was a perfectly easy and relaxing time–almost as if no time had passed at all.
     And without further reminiscing, here is one of the simplest most versatile and favorite recipes in my arsenal–wheat free, vegetarian, loaded with protein and delicious! 
Sri Lankan Lentil Pancakes
Original recipe                                                            My various adaptations
Leftover cooked rice – 1 – 3 cups
Leftover alternate grains – I’ve used Quinoa, brown rice, millet
Urad Dal (white lentils) – 1 ½ cups
Masur Dal (red lentils) – 1  ½ cups
Salt and water
Little bit of rice or wheat flour (optional)
5 – 10 fennel (optional)
     This recipe is so simple you won’t believe it – but you do have to have a little patience as it has to sit for at least 12 hours and is better the longer it sits.
·            Start with some already cooked rice or other grain. 
o   I usually do this when I happen to have some leftover from another meal.
o   Note:  this recipe is very forgiving and in true peasant cooking fashion, I never really measure anything – it is approximately equal amounts of rice and lentils (a little less lentils), but don’t take that too seriously – it seems to work no matter what the ratios . . .
·       Put cooked rice in a large bowl and add uncooked lentils. 
·       Add water to cover and some salt.  (You can add more later). 
·       You don’t have to stir or anything, just let it sit overnight. 
·       You may have to add more water if the grains and lentil absorb all the water and the mixture looks dry.
·       In the morning blend the mixture until smooth – add a little more salt.
·       Add a sprinkling of rice flour to the mixture (I often omit this stage and it still works)
·       You can go ahead and make pancakes at this point, but it is better if you let it sit for one more day.  You can let the batter sit on the counter for several more days – or put it in the refrigerator, if you prefer.
     In a large frying pan add a generous amount of oil (I usually use olive oil)  pour batter like with pancakes and smooth in a circle to thin the batter a little.  Cook this pretty slowly over medium heat – it takes a while, be patient!  When brown on one side, flip the pancake over and cook slowly on the other side.    We usually serve these with an over easy fried egg on top and often with the coconut sambol recipe (below) on the side.  It’s really good with regular salsa and avocadoes too.  We usually serve it for breakfast, but it’s equally good and filling for dinner too.
Coconut Sambol
Original recipe                                                           My adaptations
Hard coconut pieces (cut into small pieces or grated)
(either use pieces from a fresh coconut or use ready made unsweetened coconut flakes – or unsweetened grated coconut)
Handful of onion chopped
Fresh or dried chiles to taste
I often just add a little cayenne instead
Curry leaves
I often just use curry powder – about 1 -3 tsps
A little water
Optional:  shallots, garlic
I usually add salt
     Blend all ingredients together and serve in a bowl on the side.  This is another very forgiving recipe, perfect peasant style recipe.   I don’t think I have ever measured anything.  I just throw varying amounts of the above ingredients into a blender and voila! Everyone loves it–just try it!

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Thanksgiving Memories and Leftovers: Turkey Burritos!

     Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where bits and pieces of memories from years past weave their way through my mind creating a rich Thanksgiving tapestry of sorts.  So many stories come to mind and whole scenes from different eras in my life and lessons learned.
     When I was a young kid, Thanksgiving was not an extended family affair. This was because my parents were both European, and not only was our extended family too far away, they also didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.  My parents, who became US citizens of their own right, were dedicated to all American Holidays, however, and to make the occasion grand they always arranged for a traditional Thanksgiving feast and for us to share the day with family friends.
     Thus, even though I am of European descent, my memories of Thanksgiving as a kid include the sound of American football playing on the TV in the background, a bowl of whole nuts next to a roaring fire, and a very traditional feast with Turkey, cornbread, stuffing, rolls, some decadent vegetables/cream/cheese casserole, yams or sweet potatoes and of course mashed potatoes and gravy.  My favorite dish was the stuffing – specifically my mom’s version – which she must have had to figure out on her own without the benefit of family tradition . . . the torch got passed, however, and when I first got married and realized we wouldn’t be able to make it home for Thanksgiving, I called my mom to get her recipe.  (Below is the well-loved index card where I recorded her recipe.)
     The morning was always dedicated to cooking, the afternoon to eating and the balance of the evening to playing games. Pie and a walk generally happened at some point during the evening festivities.  In those days, the ultimate goal was to stay up long enough to have a turkey sandwich at midnight!
     Beyond the basics of the day, my memories of Thanksgiving also come with thoughts of gratitude and grace.  There have been many Thanksgivings where one or another person held us spellbound as they recited their version of grace, or where they shared their grandmother’s favorite grace, or made up their own, or where we all contributed and reflected on what we were thankful for.
     But I remember one Thanksgiving learning about another kind of grace too.  On this Thanksgiving we had been invited to my Auntie Jeanie’s house (she was a beloved adopted “auntie”). . . and now just thinking of her immediately makes me recall the moment, while she was in the process of dying, that she asked me to speak her eulogy, and me in reflecting on her beautiful life and it’s undeniable impact on me and those around her, summed her life up in two words: “dignity and grace.” Auntie Jeannie was lovely and charming  through and through.
     On this particular Thanksgiving, as we all sat down to dinner, we became aware that a Thanksgiving Day travesty had occurred:  the turkey was burned to an absolute crisp.  Auntie Jeannie, however, did not fret for even a second.  She never apologized.  She never worried about her cooking or what we all might be thinking or what we were going to do without a turkey.  She simply put the charcoal black turkey on a beautiful serving platter in the middle of the table and said simply “Oh, it looks bit black”.  Not a single additional word was said.  And, with that leadership, we all took heed and turned the focus back to each other and the conversation to more interesting topics.  There was plenty of other food and we feasted gloriously, turkey or not.
     To me this simple act captured the essence of grace.  She knew instinctively what was important that day–and the fact that she had burned the turkey was not the most important thing, not even worthy of further comment really.  We were, after all, ultimately most grateful to be spending the day together and enjoying each other’s company.
     Now so many years later, our Thanksgiving feast has had to change to accommodate wheat free, meat free, sugar free dietary constraints.  Thus many of the stalwart favorites that seem to be the cornerstones of a Thanksgiving feast are not options–is this a travesty?  Not a chance–no matter what ultimately ends up on the table, we get to spend the day together cooking and conversing – what could be better?
     Below is our menu from this year’s Thanksgiving feast:
·      One small turkey breast (for the non-vegetarians)
·      One Quorn Turk’y Roast (a meat-free, non soy product)
·      Gluten Free Vegetarian stuffing (see below)
·      Mashed Potatoes
·      Vegetarian Gravy (
·      Red Onion, Orange and Grapefruit salad
·      Green Beans with shallots and onions (
·      Sweet Potato and Pistachio Quinoa (
·      Stevia Sweetened Pumpkin Pie in a nut crust
     I don’t plan to write out all the recipes–just the gluten free vegetarian stuffing, (But, if you are interested, feel free to contact me for any of the recipes above) It was a fabulous feast!  Old stories were told and new ones were born . . . .
Gluten Free Vegetarian Stuffing:
Mom’s recipe                                                Udi’s                                                Mine
1 lb loose pork sausage – spiced with salt, pepper, nutmeg, sage, poultry seasoning
Omit –see seasonings added below
Prepared spiced bread crumbs (Pepperidge Farms)
1 loaf Udi’s Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread; 1 loaf Udi’s White Sandwich Gluten Free Bread
1 loaf Schar Classic White gluten free bread; ½ loaf gluten free rye bread
2 -3 onions chopped
2 onions chopped
2 onions chopped
Chopped celery (lots)
½ cup chopped celery
1+ cups chopped celery
Homemade chicken broth
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup vegetable broth
1 egg optional
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 eggs, lightly beaten
chopped parsley
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped flat parsley
1 Tbl chopped flat parsley
3 Tbl chopped fresh sage
3 Tbl chopped fresh sage
½ cup chopped fennel
1 Tbl ground fennel seed
Some of mom’s seasonings added to taste:  nutmeg, rosemary, thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper to tasteMom’s version:  Fry pork then sauté onions in pork fat
··    Mom’s version:  Fry pork then sauté onions in pork fat
·      Gluten Free version – make bread cubes:
o   toast bread and cut into cubes, put in a bowl with parsley sage, salt and pepper
·      Vegetarian version:  sauté onion in olive oil
·      To onion mixture add fennel, celery
·      Combine onion mixture with bread crumbs  and add eggs, stock, cream and gently toss
·      Add any extra seasoning to taste
·      Transfer to a buttered shallow baking dish and bake covered for 30 minutes at 325 degrees; to brown cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes
So Thanksgiving, 2011 has come and gone, but I will leave you with one final postscript and my favorite recipe using Thanksgiving leftovers, which I picked up from my mother-in-law and which has become a tradition in our house too:
Turkey Burritos!
These turkey burritos are no ordinary burritos —no these infamous burritos include all the thanksgiving dinner leftovers:
·      mashed potatoes
·      turkey (cut into cubes) or Quorn
·      stuffing
·      green beans or other vegetable casserole
·      gravy
·      sweet potatoes
·      cranberry sauce
·      everything! – all mixed up in one big skillet.
     After heating and mixing all the leftovers in one big skillet, you wrap it all up in a tortilla (corn or flour) and add a little homemade salsa (tomatoes, onions, and jalapeno) and voila! Yum!!! – McCandless Family Turkey Burrito leftovers — perfect peasant cooking food.
     So, take a look in your fridge – are there still Thanksgiving Day leftovers?  Forget about Turkey soup – make Turkey Burritos.  You will love them.

And last but not least my mom’s stuffing recipe, faithfully recorded and, as I mentioned, showing much love from Thanksgivings past . . .


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Lummi Island Holiday, Howard, and Hot and Sour Soup

     What would Thanksgiving be without Hot and Sour Soup?  Such is the tradition in our family . . . 
     It’s funny how traditions get started and then how they get maintained.  As a family grows, you come to develop your own rituals and quirks.  We celebrate birthdays in the morning, for instance, by waking the birthday person up early singing and bearing tea, breakfast in bed and presents.  True – it is slightly tormenting – but sweet!  Over the years, when the kids were young and we were all living in the same state, we figured out how and where to celebrate different holidays, delegating Thanksgiving to Lummi Island at my in laws up on Lummi Island and Easter to Whidbey Island at my parents.  (Were we spoiled or what?!!) Both developed into unique and festive extended family occasions with certain ritual traditions.  Hot and Sour Soup on Thanksgiving Eve became one of those cherished traditions. 
     It was started many years ago by my father-in-law, Howard.  Howard had an interesting life, growing up one of 14 kids on a farm in Pennsylvania and ending up on six acres of forest on a tiny island, Lummi Island, in the Pacific Northwest.  He made his way on the island as handy man and house remodeler, and was plenty busy taking care of his customers, but he always a few other interests going as well, such as building his own home from the ground up, and he wasn’t afraid to start learning something new.  Well into his middle age he took up saxophone, for instance, and for a while studied and grew bonsai trees.  Then there was his stint as a volunteer fireman and his hobby for fixing up old cars, which ultimately led to converting an old shed to a complete paint shop and resulted in a gorgeous poppy orange fully converted 1965 mustang. 
     But the hobby I want to talk about, is the time he decided to learn how cook Chinese food and, in particular, his interest in perfecting Hot and Sour Soup.  It all culminated around Thanksgiving one year.  This particular year when we arrived on Lummi the evening before as we were inclined to do to prolong the holiday, we were greeted with a steaming bowl of homemade Hot and Sour Soup – oh my was that delicious after our longish drive with young kids!!–peppery hot, in a rich broth with soft bits and crunchy bits and all sorts of new and interesting flavors.  It was an instant hit.  “How did you make this?” we cried out – “it’s wonderful!”.  “Oh it’s no big deal,” he said, pleased that we appreciated it. “You just throw a bunch of ingredients into the pot.”  (yum, just my kind of meal!)
    And so it came to be that each year as we approached Thanksgiving, we’d beg Howard  “Please make Hot and Sour Soup again!!!!  We have to have it!!”  For truthfully, even though we would always also have a gorgeous traditional Thanksgiving feast – it was our secret favorite part.  Thanksgiving Eve had to start with Hot and Sour Soup and then after all the gorging was over, the perfect night cap was a little bowl of Hot and Sour Soup to end it all too.
     Howard passed away in August several years ago now (although he still visits me in my dreams from time to time), and I remember as we were approaching Thanksgiving that year, it suddenly dawned on me that he wouldn’t be there to make the Hot and Sour Soup! – a small thing, I know, but somehow important.  I realized that this had become a beloved tradition in our family and the baton had to be passed along.  If we waited too long, his recipe might be lost.
     I called Sandy on the spot and asked her did she know where Howard kept his recipe for Hot and Sour Soup because I wanted to carry on the tradition and make it.  She thought she did and hunted through the kitchen announcing she had it along with his notes from his different trials and errors.  She started reading and I realized I didn’t even have a paper and pen handy.  I grabbed the nearest thing I could find – a bank deposit envelope – and furiously began scribbling as Sandy looked through his books and notes.  I ran out of space and had to open the envelope up and keep writing on the other side.  Sandy and I cried as we interpreted and copied his notes, but it was a good cry . . .
     That year, and every year since, I’ve made Howard’s Hot and Sour Soup–adding a couple touches of my own and now making a vegetarian version too.  I keep thinking I should transcribe the notes I took that day – but I can never do it.  I love that tear water and food stained bank envelope.  It captures perfectly that moment of realizing we had to continue Howard’s tradition and invites me to intentionally pause to remember all the little things about him and about that era when the whole extended family got together – before we got relocated across the country, before the kids grew up and went away to college, before Howard died.
     So, as a prelude to some recipes from the rest of our equally unusual Thanksgiving Feast– which this year will be Meat Free, Wheat Free, and Sugar Free . . . I share with you my favorite part of the annual feast:
Howard’s Hot and Sour Thanksgiving Eve Soup 
(serves 6 as is – but we usually triple it)
    Howard’s version                                                My vegetarian adaptations and notes:
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups vegetable broth
2 – 3” squares of firm tofu (1 package)
Note:  cut these in matchsticks
½ lb pork – cut in 1/8” wide strips
Tofu/Pork marinade:
        1 tsp soy sauce
I use wheat free tamari
        1 tsp rice wine vinegar
        ½ tsp cornstarch
        ¼ tsp dark sesame oil
6 dried Chinese black mushrooms or shiitake 
Note:  soak these for 15 – 30 minutes in very hot water , drain and shred 
10 wood ears
Note:  soak these in a different bowl in very hot water, cut off hard edges and shred 
8 Tiger Lily buds ( I add these)
2/3 small can bamboo shoots
Note: drained and slivered
One small can water chestnuts
Note:  drained and sliced
   3 ½ Tbl cornstarch and 7 Tbl water
   3 Tbl soy sauce
I use wheat free tamari
   3 Tbl rice wine vinegar
   3 Tbl minced ginger
   2 Tbl minced scallions
   2 tsp sesame oil
   1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
Note:  sometimes I use white pepper too
2 large eggs beaten lightly
1 tsp each salt and sugar
(I don’t worry about this much sugar)
2 Tbl rice wine vinegar
Green onions minced for garnish
     A note about the ingredients in this recipe.  There are really only 3 unusual ingredients in this recipe:  chinese black mushrooms or shiitake, wood ears (another mushroom) and Tiger Lily buds all of which you can find at an asian grocery.  Tiger Lily’s are the only ingredient that you probably have to go to an oriental grocery store for.  Usually you can find the dried black mushrooms or shiitake and the wood ears at a store like Whole Foods.  You can make this without the Tiger Lily buds.
     You will need several bowls for combining different portions of this recipe.
In bowl #1 combine:
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (tamari)
  • 1 tsp rice wine/vinegar
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil
  • pork slices. 
  • Set aside for 25 minutes
Note:  I don’t use pork so I marinade my tofu in this mixture – adding more in the proper ratio if needed
In bowl #2 soak:
  • 6 dried Chinese black mushrooms in very hot water for about 15 minutes, then drain and shred
In bowl #3 soak:
  • 10 wood ear in very hot water – cut off hard edges and shred
In bowl #4 combine:
  • 3 Tbl soy sauce (tamari)
  • 3 Tbl rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbl minced ginger
  • 2 Tbl minced scallions
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp pepper (you may add more later to taste)
In a large pot bring the following to a boil:
  • 6 cups of broth (you may choose to add more later)
  • 1 tsp each sugar and salt
  • 2 Tbl rice wine vinegar (or a little less)


  •      Pork mixture
  •      Tofu (cut into matchsticks)
  •      Black Mushrooms, Wood Ear and Tiger Lily buds
  •      Bamboo shoots
  •      Water chestnuts

Bring back to boil then skim off froth and add: 

  • Cornstarch mixture (3 ½ Tbl cornstarch + 7 Tbl water) to large pot

Cook 1 minute to thicken, then remove from heat and add:

  • 2 large beaten eggs by stirring them into the big pot with a chopstick
  • Soy sauce (tamari) mixture from bowl #4
Taste and determine if more rice vinegar or pepper is needed
     And here, capturing my own wabi sabi method for preserving recipes, the bank envelope on which I furiously scribbled Howard’s recipe:

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Mexican Adventures, Coming Home and Tortilla Soup

     The signature recipe at our house has become “Tortilla Soup” and for me it signifies coming home. Just the words alone immediately bring to mind the joy of being surrounded by family and friends.  Tortilla Soup has become the recipe we fix every time the kids come home from college, the recipe we choose to greet travelers after a long flight, the one we choose when we want a new friend to feel relaxed and comfortable at our house. It captures, for me, the quintessential essence of peasant cooking at its best–not exactly stone soup, but a kind of “condiment” soup (with all sorts of extras that can be added according to the tastes and desires of the tastee)–and of course there is always the fact that it comes with a Mexican flair!  
     Mexico comes with somewhat of a bad rap these days, but for not for me. Mexico is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve been to Mexico over 20 times and many of them have been wild and wonderful adventures. Making Tortilla Soup for me is an opportunity to choose from a collection of memories (sort of thought condiments) to flavor my day–which ones do I want to taste and smell and remember today?
     If I am very relaxed I might remember the summer I met my husband and we drove down to San Carlos and camped on the beach.  I learned to spear fish and caught my one and only fish on the first try–mostly to prove I could do it–after that I always seemed to subtly jerk my hand at the last moment and miss . . . I remember that while driving back home on that trip my car broke down in Tijuana and in the space of an instant, I completely panicked, convinced we would never make it back home – we’d become destitute living on the streets of Tijuana – we’d end up in a Tijuana jail (you know how the mind gets going sometimes. . .) Jay said he’d never let that happen; he would make sure we found our way home even if he had to push the car all the way back over the border.  I believed him 100% and probably fell in love that day. 
     I might remember another time, like when we drove from Washington State to the Yucatan Peninsula in an old Toyota truck with an orange wooden canopy – the thing required us to change the spark plugs about every 100 miles and looked so bad even the Mexicans felt sorry for us . . . but we had treasures hidden beneath the scruffy exterior (kind of like we all do) including scuba gear, an air compressor, an inflatable boat and engine.  We made our way across the country to “La Playa Mas Bonita Del Mundo” – the most beautiful beach in the world — where we built a hut on the beach from driftwood and palm fronds, and spent days scuba diving and living off our catch.  It was paradise . . . until I got barracuda poisoning . . .
     In later years, we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a mid-life crisis and decided to escape what we saw as the rut and rat race of suburban living and move with our four and seven year old girls to a remote fishing village in Mexico, called Yelapa.  I always thought living in Yelapa was something like life as described in the Little House on the Prairie books.  There were no cars, no phones, no electricity . . . we walked everywhere and our days were divided between walking to the big beach for fun and entertainment – a twenty minute walk away one way– homeschooling, and walking to one of the three tiny little grocery stores to pick up food for that day’s meal – oh and checking for scorpions  . . . I could write a book about our experiences living in a Palapa in Yelapa . . . but suffice it to say, it was there we came to fully appreciate Mexican cooking: handmade tortillas picked up fresh from a local woman, young coconuts for drinking pulled right off the tree, papaya sprinkled with lime juice, mangoes, black beans, cheese, cilantro, rice, tomatoes, jalapenos, fresh caught seafood . . . oh Yum!
     My Tortilla Soup condiment thoughts can just as easily transport me to the quiet space of a meditation retreat, for we traveled many times to partake in one that took place in an enchanting old hacienda hundreds of years old set in the hills above Taxco.  It was essentially a mini village with cobblestone roads, its own church, a swimming pool, multiple impressive stone edifices, mysterious ruins up vine covered trails, and abundant loquat trees–it was pretty much like being on a Harry Potter set–so magical and the people so wonderful and the ashrama so still.  Our teacher used to say that the Mexican people were the closest to God and Mexico was the heart of the World.
     That is certainly true for me, for it was in Mexico–on a women’s journey led by a toltec shaman and a Mayan priestess and with women from all over the world, that the veil–the one that keeps us from fully experiencing the astonishing sacredness of life–lifted, and I found my way home to my own heart . . .
     It was immediately after this sacred journey to the heart in Mexico that we were moved across the country to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and it was there that I learned to make Tortilla Soup.  Luckily for me, the heart of Chapel Hill was Whole Foods, which was located a convenient 6 minutes from my house.  Whole Foods became the source from which I would try to re-establish a feeling of home for our relocated family, who were all missing the companionship and comfort of extended family and friends. 
     During this time, I would wander through the aisles of Whole Foods in bliss–all the beautiful vibrant produce seemed to be glowing–and all our food sensitivities were easily accommodated with healthy and interesting options! I loved going to Whole Foods.  It became the center of my day.  It wasn’t long before I purchased the Whole Foods Cookbook and discovered their recipe for Tortilla Soup. I have copied below the page from the original Whole Foods Cookbook I bought nine years ago.  You can see it is a well-loved page.  I’ve added a few of my own touches, but not too many.  Tortilla Soup has become our family’s comfort food, a symbol of being home, and to this day it regularly graces our table.
     Well, it seems like it is time to let loose the memories and get on with joy of cooking itself . . . We have an old friend visiting, one that co-incidentally also visited us when we lived in Yelapa.  He is a vegan and this recipe is very easy to make vegan.
     Today is a Tortilla Soup kind of day . . . (but my daughter warns me another one better be just around the corner because she is coming home next week . . . .)
Tortilla Soup (adapted from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook)
Original Spicy Chicken version:                      Vegetarian/Vegan substitutes and
other alternatives I use:
 1/8 cup canola oil
(I usually use olive oil)
1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped
Note:  I use whatever color peppers I have and often add orange and yellow peppers because it looks pretty
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
Note:  I usually use a sweet white onion instead
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano or 1/8 cup fresh
1 tsp cumin
Note:  I always hand grind my whole cumin and add a little extra
¾ tsp chili powder
Note:  different chili powders taste different, so experiment to see what you like – I use the one Costco sells
1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
Leave some seeds in for extra heat
1 can diced canned tomatoes with juice
I use organic canned tomatoes or fresh
4 cups water or chicken broth
4 cups vegetable broth
(Note:  I always make it with broth and like the organic Pacific brand for both vegetable and Free Range Chicken)
1 -2 organic free range chicken breasts
(I cut these up into bite size pieces before putting it in the soup – Note:  this is easy to do with frozen breasts)
Omit for vegetarian option
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
I use either organic Eden or Goya
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
I use organic frozen usually
½ cup minced cilantro
I serve mine on the side
Salt to taste
The Condiments:
Minced cilantro
Diced ripe avocado
Grated pepper or Monterey jack cheese
Vegan soy or other imitation cheese
Extra jalapenos chopped
Handmade tortillas strips (recipe below)
I buy a stack of the inexpensive Mexican brand sold at local grocery stores
Yoghurt or sour cream
·       Heat the oil in a deep dutch oven over medium high heat
·       Saute the peppers, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin and chili powder for 3 minute, until the onion is translucent, stirring often. 
·       Add the jalapeno and tomatoes; continue stirring for one minute
·       Add the broth and the chicken pieces
·       Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes
·       Add the black beans and corn and return the soup to a boil, then reduce to low simmer and season with salt.
·       Prepare the cilantro, avocado, cheese, jalapeno and yoghurt condiments and place in separate serving bowls for each guest to add to their own soup
·       Prepare the handmade tortillas strips (hint– it is key to make your own):
o   Take a stack of tortillas about 1 -2 inches high and cut in half; then stack both halves on top of each other and make 1/8 inch wide slices through all layers to make strips
o   Cover the bottom of a frying pan with oil; 
o   Heat the oil over medium heat
o   Sprinkle the hand cut strips over the oil; season generously with salt
o   Stir and turn the strips until they brown and get little crunchy
o   Serve these separately for guests to add to their soup.
     And here it is – the well loved page from my Whole Foods Market Cookbook:

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Cookies and Milk for World Peace

     So today is 11/11/11 and all around the globe folks are pausing to remember what brings them joy and to envision world peace.  I know I did.
     I hadn’t planned on posting a blog today, since I just posted one yesterday, and I surely won’t manage to post one every day . . . more likely every week  . . .but I got to thinking about a day dedicated to World Transformation, and about what brings me joy and I decided I would like to post something sweet–alternatively sweet that is.  Because, well . . . I believe it’s important to reach out and share sweetness, whenever and wherever you can.
     Like all moms know, there is something inherently good about baking cookies.  It’s a way to fill the house with yummy sweet smells, to create an opening to sit down with a glass of milk or a cup of tea and relax for a moment, to support your child while they are doing homework, to support your spouse after a long day of work–it’s a time honored way to say “I love you” Bottom line, in my book: cookies and milk are a good thing.
     So when I discovered that my five-year-old daughter could not tolerate sugar, and when I learned my husband could not eat gluten, I immediately recognized that I would have to improvise.  How could I raise a child or nourish my husband without ever baking cookies? 
     I know, I know . . . . cookies are not the most important thing and there are lots of ways to show love  . . . and what about all the health detriments to eating too many sweets anyway ?        . . .  but still . . .
     Perhaps I was so drawn to the need for cookies because I grew up with European parents and it was absolute tradition in our house to have tea every morning and tea and a cookie every afternoon.  It wasn’t overindulgent.  It didn’t make us fat or wigged out.  It was a good thing.  And plus we had the wisdom of my Oma balancing things out–by the end of her creative and inspiring life that included harboring Jews during the war, and working for the underground, her single most important piece of wisdom:  Everything in Moderation.   That’s all. 
     Thus, with my time honored European traditions ensconced and my grandmother’s words to guide me, I set out to create a recipe for my daughter for chocolate chip cookies that was sweetened with alternative products and then a version for my husband that was gluten free. 
     I had a few other goals too. I wanted them to be filled with protein because I understood that protein would help balance the ill effects of sweets.  (There were few power bars in those days!) And . . . . and this was important  . .. they had to taste good because I had decided I was going to share them with my daughter’s kindergarten class.
     Below is the recipe on the original piece of paper I typed it out on–the handwritten notes below the typing comprise the gluten free version I came up later. 
     Before we get started cooking though, though, I want to really set the stage.  After testing these cookies out I took all the ingredients in to the kindergarten, having arranged for a special demonstration with the teacher.  We spent some time learning about sugar and learning about all the different products that contain a popular derivation of sugar:  high fructose corn syrup.  We looked at labels and I got the kids to try to imagine what it would be like if they couldn’t have any of those things, like my daughter.  No candy treats from the teacher for completing their math page, no Halloween candy, no donuts or cupcakes or kids cereal . . . . . they all looked horrified. 
     But then I told them that it was okay because we had learned there are always alternative ways to treat ourselves and others and these were often healthier, more creative and fun.  Halloween didn’t mean no dressing up and trick or treating, it meant swapping her sugar filled treats for wrapped up prizes when she got home.  And not being able to eat sugar, didn’t mean no chocolate chip cookies, it meant we had to figure out how to make them with out sugar, and we were there to have the whole kindergarten class pitch in and make a batch that we would taste test then and there that day!  The five year olds all pitched in and made the chocolate chip cookies with the unusual ingredients and they all declared they loved them!
     It’s always amazing what happens when you invest your own time and energy into making something happen . . . like pausing and taking a moment to envision World Peace, for instance . . 

Perhaps, like we found with Sugar Free, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, there are all kinds of alternative ways we can treat ourselves and each other that are healthier, more creative and fun.
     Anything is possible, always.
     So finally . . . without further storytelling transgressions, here are my original Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Be prepared for a surprise ingredient right out of the shoot!
Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip      Gluten Free Sugar Free Chocolate Chip
1/3 cup soft tofu
1/3 cup soft tofu
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup liquid fruit sweet or concentrated fruit juice
¼ cup chocolate or vanilla whey protein powder (alternative)
½ cup sucanat or granulated fructose
(or substitute coconut palm sugar)
½ cup sucanat or granulated fructose
(or substitute coconut palm sugar)
¼ cup honey (or use more fruit sweet)
¼ cup honey
1 TBl vanilla
1 TBl vanilla
¾ cup unbleached flour
¼ cup potato flour;
¼ cup white rice flour;
½ cup teff flour
(or substitute ¾ cup pre-packaged Gluten Free Flour such as by Bob’s Red Mill)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cups gluten free oats (optional)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp sea salt
2 cups grain sweetened chocolate chips (look for these in health food stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts)
2 cups grain sweetened chocolate chips (look for these in health food stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts)
1 cup walnuts (optional)
½ cup ground cashews
½ cup ground pecans
¼ cup sesame seeds
·    Blend Flour(s), baking soda, and salt and set aside
·       Blend tofu
·       Add oil, (whey powder) fruit sweet, vanilla, sucanat or fructose, and honey;
·       Add honey and mix until well blended
·       Add oats to flour mixture
·       Add nuts and mix
·       Fold in chocolate chips
·       Drop by teaspoon on well-oiled cookie sheet
·       Bake 13 – 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
·       For softer cookies cool on counter surface; for crunchier cool on cookie sheet
(Versions of this recipe replace the oil with peanut butter and cream cheese and I now often use coconut palm sugar instead of fructose or sucanat.)
     So, all I have left to say is: 
     World Peace and Chocolate Chip Cookies in the same day?  Sweet!



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Peasant Cooking, Storytelling, and Swiss Potato Soup

     I think of myself as a “peasant cook” –not really sure how I came up with the term, it just feels right.  I have learned since that there is an entire Facebook page dedicated to “peasant cooking”.  Well, for me, the term  captures the essence of using what is available, substituting liberally, usually ending up with a “one pot” meal (and a particular propensity for soups.) I think of peasant cooking as earthy, magical,  and messy rather than beautiful, refined,  and gourmet.   For me it is a hands on sensual art that reverts to simple tools, rather than technology. I think of my kitchen as my hearth – a place where people gather for warmth and comfort, for good nourishing food, and to swap stories – and I like that it contains the word “heart”  within it, because ultimately that is what cooking (and story telling) is for me–an expression and extension of love.
     Cooking wasn’t always this way for me.  When my children were younger I had begun to think of cooking as a chore–something that had to be done, rather than something I wanted to do.  Various members of my family had allergies, so it became necessary for our meals to be gluten free, sugar free and eventually vegetarian or at least optionally vegetarian.  At the time there was very little prepared food that met these criteria so I had to cook everything from scratch.  I realized one day that I had adopted an attitude that all the work involved in cooking was not appreciated (not that that was true . . . just what I thought . . .)
     I decided to offer myself encouragement–since it was obvious the need for cooking was not going to go away.  Every day that I set dinner down on the table I made a little proclamation “Oh my goodness, can you believe it!  I did it again – I actually made dinner and got it to the table!!”  This caused some giggling from the half pints and as I continued day after day to make these proclamations at dinner, the whole idea caught on.  Pretty soon, the kids were the ones who would say “Look Mom – you did it again!  You fixed us a yummy dinner!!”  That was the start.  Then I discovered that all the allergies I had to contend with were a huge blessing in disguise for it led me down avenues I never would have considered and forced me to research, to get involved.  I started investigating ethnic recipes – Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Ethiopian, Korean, Chinese, Latin American, German, Swedish, Dutch, Swiss — that focused on rice or corn or potatoes instead of wheat and bread; I wandered down health food aisles looking for alternatives to sugar, such as barley malt, fructose, cane juice and found also interesting grains like millet and quinoa, and vegetarian alternatives such as Quorn, tofu, tempeh.
     I began to look forward to cooking and started entering into the act of cooking with more intention and awareness.  At some point during the day I would peruse recipes to get ideas.  Then at 4 pm I would put on music, enter my kitchen and clean it – before I started cooking —  I would announce to myself (or others if they were around) that I had to prepare my temple.  What I found was that preparing myself and my kitchen this way helped me relax and really enjoy the task at hand. I noticed a gentle contemplative or musing (as opposed to frenetic) quality to my thinking; memories  mixed with imagination brewed harmlessly in the background just as the ingredients of my latest version of stone soup simmered.
     I learned things about myself, too. I discovered that I would much rather hand mince garlic than use a garlic press – and that I would rather individually chop my vegetables than use a food processor.  I liked the feel of the food in my hands.  I began to pay attention to the different spices called for in recipes and learned the joy of releasing the fragrance of fresh spices in a mortar and pestle (my favorite kitchen implement to this day). I noticed the colors in food and would create with attention to color as well as taste and smell.  In short, I began to feel like a kitchen goddess.
     So, without further ado . . . let’s begin.
     Today we are having Swiss Potato Soup.
     Just saying those words, brings a whole era to my mind and I think fondly of the many times I have pulled this recipe out.  I have included it here below in its original form, which I wrote 28 years ago, because the mottled, torn, well loved, imperfect, handwritten index card tells something all by itself.
     And as I sit here now, ready to explain more and recreate it in a more legible form, I remember the woman who gave me the recipe. . .
     She was my Greek and Latin tutor and at the time, I thought she was the coolest person I knew.  (I was 22 at the time;  she was about my age now)  She was super hip with short red hair, a dynamite figure and a flair for style. She was warm and engaging, and absolutely dynamic.  I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.  She taught me Greek and Latin in the evening at her house down the street from UCLA.  When I started taking her classes, she had just moved to a gorgeous little house on Westwood Blvd in Los Angeles. She gave me a little tour of her house and I remember being totally impressed that her four poster bed sat on hardwood floors in the dead middle of a sparsely decorated room that had a high ceiling.  Behind and to the side of the bed were giant tropical plants of all shapes.  The effect was like sleeping in the jungle.   I remember too that she told me how her first husband had died suddenly from melanoma.  The room was quiet and still when she shared that.  And in that singular moment, she taught me about reverance.
     She taught me about cooking too.  She sort of instinctively knew that I was struggling, living in my first little tiny house with my fiancé, on a budget and having to come up with dinners.  She announced to me that along with Latin and Greek lessons, she was going to share a recipe with me each week.  She said I should start with the basics, something simple and brought me into her kitchen and had me write down (on the index card you see below) her recipe for Swiss Potato Soup.
     So you see, whenever I decide to cook Swiss Potato Soup, as I do about 4 or 5 times a year it comes with the loveliest of baggage.  I can’t help but smile.  The memories of being a college student, of just starting life out, of the warmth and caring of others, they all come rushing back and I can’t help but think the soup is filled up with that too.
Swiss Potato Soup  (aka Potato Leek Soup):
Original recipe                                                            Substitutions
6 slices bacon         
Tempeh or chicken sausages (3)
3 (cooked) potatoes
2 large leeks (chopped)
1 turnip
I omit this, if I don’thave one
6 cups chicken broth         (free range organic—I like to think of happy, healthy  chickens)
Vegetable broth
2 cups minced onions
1 cup sour cream
1 cup nonfat greek yoghurt
Pepper, salt
Often omit because I don’t have it
  • Fry Bacon or chicken sausage and set aside; retain grease.  (For tempeh, see recipe below)
  • Add leeks and onions and sauté in hot grease or olive oil (I add a little salt to the olive oil, if I don’t use hot grease)
  • Add to a dutch oven the leeks, onions, cooked potatoes (cut into pieces), turnips and broth.
  • Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes
  • Puree mixture in a blender. (Careful!  I had this explode in my face once . . . but that’s another story . . .)
  • Return pureed mixture to Dutch Oven; heat back to boiling briefly
  • Stir in sour cream or yoghurt and bits of sausage, bacon or tempeh.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste – it will take quite a bit of salt
  • Use parsley, if you like, for garnish
Serve with bread.  I like to make a special loaf of Bob’s Red Mill Hearty Whole Grain (Gluten Free) Bread.  It is sooo yummy and goes well with the soup!
Tempeh (that tastes like bacon):
One package tempeh (I buy organic garden veggie tempeh from Lightlife)
Wheat free Tamari (or soy sauce)
Olive oil – about 2 Tbls
  • Slice the tempeh into about 1/8th inch pieces
  • Fry in about 2 Tbls oil with 1 -2 cloves of minced garlic
  • Turn each piece over to brown each side
  • When brown sprinkle the tamari over the tempeh
  • Crumble the tempeh pieces up and add it to the top of the soup

Note this is a very handy recipe on its own–try making a BLT with it.  It’s amazing; it tastes just like bacon!  I learned with trick from a macrobiotic cook who lived with us for a while.  It’s one of those recipes we come back to again and again.


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