Cold Day, Hot Soup

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Stella’s Cafe is situated in a rainy, coastal town. They have seen little of the snow and freezing temperatures the rest of the country has been dealing with, but they are in the middle of an extensive period of rain. And more is forecasted for the coming weeks. Much more. During this raw and wet time of year, one of her best sellers is good hot soup. She offers two choices every day with at least one being vegan, or at least vegetarian. She wishes she had a dollar for every customer who comes into the cafe and announces, ‘I’m vegan,’ or ‘I’m gluten free. What do you have for me?’ and she wonders what the powers that be have done to the wheat, the meat and the dairy to turn all these people off of what, to her, have always been staples of life. She, herself, does not eat a great deal of meat, but she does enjoy a small quality cut of beef or a lovely roasted chicken. As for good bread, cheese, yogurt, or cream…it would be hard to imagine life without them! ‘Everything in moderation,’ is her motto, although she admits to not having allergies or food sensitivities to deal with, if one does not count a tendency to gain a few pounds over the Holidays a form of ‘food sensitivity.’ She is sure someone would. In any case, she is here to serve her wide range of customers and serve them the quality of food that she herself enjoys. This time of year, she enjoys a good bowl of soup for lunch, with some excellent sourdough bread from the bakery down the street. Recently, she discovered a wonderful new vegan recipe which she found delicious and hopes her customers will too!

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Dried Cherries and Cilantro adapted from

Makes 9 cups, approximately

  • 4 teaspoons safflower or peanut oil
  • 6 Tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 4 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 Large Shallots, finely minced
  • 4 carrots, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder or mild curry paste (if you like it spicy, double the amount of powder or use hotter paste)
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 6 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems, plus a handful of leaves for garnish

1. Heat oil in a 5 Litre pot over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic, shallot, and carrots, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add curry powder or paste, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

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2. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water, and the lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, 8-10 minutes. Pour 4 cups soup through a fine sieve into a bowl, reserving solids. Puree strained liquid with remaining soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Reheat after blending. Stir in reserved solids.

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3. Reserving some for garnish, stir cherries and cilantro stems into soup, and ladle into bowls. Swirl in remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk (with love, of course) and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves.

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Carrot Ginger Soup with Zucchini Cheddar Bread -or- Canadian Tendencies

 The first weeks of September have been hot, like August. Stella’s customers aren’t sure whether to order hot coffee or iced coffee. Everyone knows this weather cannot last, and are reluctant to let the summer go, but the calendar says fall is just around the corner, and beyond that, winter. The school kids are eager to wear their new school clothes but fuzzy sweaters, crisp blue jeans, and the latest boot styles will have to wait a bit longer in the closets around town. Stella’s daughters, Zoe and Kendra are still wearing their summer dresses, shorts and skirts to school, along with their friends and classmates.

Stella knows from experience that even though the weather says ‘salads and cold sandwiches’, the human subconscious, especially in Canada, begins to turn naturally to comfort food as soon as the routines of fall resume. Although the thermometer outside will climb to 30 degrees this afternoon, many of her customers, particularly the elderly couple who come for lunch most Fridays, will be after soup with a side of warm bread.

So, this morning, Stella is making a pot of her famous Carrot Ginger Soup. Today’s special will be the soup with a generous slice of Zucchini Cheddar bread. When it is time for her break, however, she’ll be having a crunchy, cooling salad.

Carrot Ginger Soup – adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook 

serves 4-5

 Bring to a boil:

  •  2 lbs total of  a mixture of mostly carrots with either sweet potato or butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups stock (or hot water with vegetable broth cubes added)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

 Cover and simmer 12-15 minutes. Let cool a bit.

 Saute in 3-4 Tbps. butter (or coconut oil) with a little salt, until onions are clear and tender:

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews or almonds
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger root – added just before the onions are finished cooking

Puree everything together in a blender until smooth, in batches if necessary. Return the puree to the pot and whisk in one of the following:

  •  1/4 cup of either: coconut milk, yogurt and a tsp honey, or milk

 Reheat soup gently, stirring often


 Zucchini Cheddar Bread – from Joy of Cooking 

 Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:

  •      3 cups all purpose flour (or half and half whole wheat like we have done here)
  •      4 teaspoons baking powder
  •      1 teaspoon salt
  •      1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Add and toss to separate and coat with flour:

  •      1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini 
  •      3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  •      1/4 cup minced green onion
  •      3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
  •      1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill, or 2 tablespoons dried

Whisk together in another bowl:

  •      2 large eggs
  •      1 cup buttermilk
  •      4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) warm melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil

Add to the flour mixture and mix with a few light strokes just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.