Thursday, April 16, 2020

Healing Vegetable Soup with Spices

Count your blessings, they say... It has never been more true, more important, than in the face of what the world is going through right now.

Count your blessings. The big blessings -- like being healthy, and having a job, and knowing that your loved ones are safe and well, as well as those innumerable small ones, those tiny graces, the little acts of goodness we often take for granted. Like watching your plants thrive, like seeing the rays of afternoon sun waltz into your bedroom, like making a pot of tea or a loaf of bread. It's the small acts of joy that make us strong and keep us normal and will eventually get us through this. And I hope that we won't forget.

So, what do I look forward to these days? I look forward to my work and seeing my colleagues. I look forward to feeding my starters two times a day instead of once a week; I feed them like babies different meals / different flours, and we play a lot. (More on that soon.) I look forward to my headstand. (Not so much to arm balances, but hey, they are a part of the equation, so I look forward to them too.) I look forward to watching The Crown. (Am I really the only person in the world who did not know about it?!)

... and I look forward to the healing soup. I must tell you about it, because it's simple and no fuss, and one needs zero degree of kitchen skill to make it. One can even hate cooking and still make a pretty incredible healing soup. I am calling it a soup for the lack of a better word, but veggie tisane might be more appropriate, because it's somewhere between a cup of tea and a bowl of broth. Lexical issues aside, it's a miracle -- a healing, soothing, comforting cup of goodness. Think tomato and coriander tisane, lemon and fennel tisane, or roasted vegetable and bay leaf tisane... Every day we invent a new favorite or go back to an old one. Sometimes we even add wine! It has become such an important part of our day, that moment right after 7pm, after we cheer to our hospital heroes, and then gather in the kitchen to unwind; we pour ourselves a mug of steaming soup, and the herb~and~spice~infused vapors -- slightly sweet, slightly earthy, slightly oriental -- touch our faces, whispering that everything will be allright and things will be OK.

And that's a lot to be grateful for.

Be well. Be safe.

Healing Vegetable Soup with Spices

* 1 small celery root
* 1 large yellow onion
* 2 large carrots
* 3 medium or 2 large tomatoes
* 2 stalks of celery
* 1 garlic clove, cut in half
* 2 tbsp tomato paste (or ketchup)
* 1 tsp black peppercorns
* 2 tsp whole coriander
* 2 cardamom pods
* 2 fresh bay leaves
* 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
* 3/4-inch knob of ginger, peeled and cut in half
* 2-inch long stripe of lemon zest
* 2 tsp honey
* 1 tsp lemon juice, or more to the taste 
* 10 cups of cold water
* salt

Peel the carrots and celery root. Cut the celery and carrots into 1/2-inch slices. Cut the celery root into 1/2-inch dice. Cut the onion into thin ribs. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Place all vegetables in a large stock pot. Add water. Add tomato paste, peppercorns, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, ginger, and one teaspoon of salt. Using vegetable peeler, peel about 2-inch long strip of lemon peel (make sure it does not come with bitter white skin, peel the zest only). Add the lemon peel to the pot. Add the honey. Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat until water is at low simmer. Reduce heat to low, so that you maintain the simmer, and cook uncovered for about two hours. Taste. If you would like soup more concentrated, simmer for another 15 minutes longer. Add the lemon juice. Taste and sdad more salt and lemon juice if you desire.

Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer.

If you are not serving the soup right away, let it cool completely, cover, and store in the refrigerator for two days or in the freezer for up to a month.

Makes about 5 cups