Soul-Warming Leek and White Bean Soup with Cardamom

On a damp, foggy late fall day there are few things more soul-warming than nestling up to a steaming bowl of homemade soup. The ritual of chopping, sautéing, stirring, and ladling engages your hands and mind. The comforting goodness that results lifts your spirits as you revel in the small accomplishment of feeding yourself and your loved ones from a communal pot. Out of nowhere, you realize the birds outside your window are singing despite the darkness and drear.

IMG_0455

Unfortunate events in our lives can manifest themselves as emotional fog, casting gloom over what might have otherwise been a day of gracious, open-eyed life-living. When something happens to us, when another person wrongs us or hurts us or lets us down, the negative energy can permeate our very fibers. It takes courage and will to rise above the fog, to let the sun burn the clouds away and see the world as it really is: miraculous. And we can’t always do that on our own.

I am one of many students at my university that has recently been wronged: we’ve had money and personal belongings stolen from us, unexpectedly and in the midst of impending exams and holidays – a time when we could all use a big hug rather than a metaphorical punch in the gut. These acts hurt and enrage us and make us feel helpless. This experience made me less apt to trust others and weakened my faith in the unspoken bonds I share with all the hard-working, diverse women that surround me in our beautiful little school.

But then there are the people that burn away the fog, that fortify our belief in humanity, that help shift our outlook back to optimism and love.  Thank you to you. You are my sun today. I am writing this because you changed my thought patterns, something I could not have done alone. This soup is for you, too.

leek and white bean soup 2

Soul-Warming Leek and White Bean Soup with Cardamom

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter

1 very large or 2-3 medium leeks, white parts only, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

¼ tsp cardamom

4 medium carrots, sliced into ¼” thick coins

1 large potato, any variety, diced into ½” chunks

6 cups stock of choice (or as I did, 4 cups vegetable stock + 2 cups water)

1 29-oz can white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

~6 leaves dinosaur kale, coarsely torn

freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste

olive oil for serving

Method:

1. In a 4-quart or larger pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add leeks and sauté until just softened, but not brown.  Add garlic and cardamom and sauté a minute more.

2. To the pot o’ alliums (leeks and garlic), add carrot coins and potato chunks.  Pour in your stock and turn heat to medium-high, bringing liquid to a boil then reducing to a simmer.  Add white beans, rosemary sprig and Parmesan rind, if using.

3.  Continue simmering soup until carrots and potatoes tender, adding more liquid as needed for desired consistency.

4.  Turn heat to low.  Stir torn kale leaves into soup and cover, cooking just until kale is bright green, about 3 minutes.

5.  Remove soup from heat; allow it to cool slightly.  Puree soup with standard or immersion blender until your preferred texture is reached.  I liked it mostly smooth, allowing just a few hearty chunks of potato and flecks of kale to prevail.

6.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil plus salt and pepper to the soup-eater’s liking.

7. Let the steam from your bowl rise up and give you a mini-facial; listen for birds.

leek and white bean soup 3

Advertisements

Tomatoes and Marriage

The longer you wait to start back up on a project you’ve left unfinished, the more daunting it becomes.  So it had gone for this little space of mine, for nearly five months.  But I have excuses, please sir!  I was planning a wedding, getting married(!), going on a honeymoon, and starting a new degree at a new school all within that time period.  Whew!  While it actually would have been a great time to blog – I did write a lot, in my journal almost every night leading up to the wedding – I had neither the time nor the focus to post what I was cooking and eating this summer.  In this case it was a lot of scrambled eggs, tuna melts, CSA veggies, and spaghetti.  Easy, thoughtless stuff so I could focus on far weightier things like first dance songs (“Harvest Moon” by Neil Young), menu-planning, and writing my vows.

Here I am though, hooray.  I am married to my soulmate.  I feel more whole, stronger, ready for life to continue, not that it stopped, but it was consumed there for a while.

I’ve been reading blogs a plenty, new finds and old favorites, and being inspired, pushed and tugged by them back into my own.  My fellow classmates also inspire and uplift me.  They’re smart, creative, and as nutrition and food-obsessed as I am.  I’m at Mount Mary College studying to become a Registered Dietitian. I love to say that, and so far, I love the program.  More on that in the future.

For now I’ll post some photos of things I captured this summer with the intention of posting them here.  And perhaps later this week, I’ll share the soup I made today.  🙂  Cheers!

ImageTuna Salad with greens from our front porch garden

ImageOne of the best meals of our honeymoon: Manhattan Fish Platter from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, MI

ImageCSA Tomatoes, about to be slow-roasted

ImageSummer, preserved in the taste of a just-picked tomato

Image

And since it’s been so long since I’ve shared anything on here at all, the poem I wrote for my husband on our wedding day:

Wedding Season

Whatever souls are made of – his and mine are the same.

     – Emily Bronte

Beneath the blue

I see: graceful fleets

of possibilities

& memories

migrating towards and away.

this is where we stand:

steeped in love

& floating in bathwater air,

wading through summer’s

density – living thick and biding

our blessed time.

To flourish: exist in abundance

Measuring out days

in watering cans full &

weeks in boxes

of heirloom tomatoes,

Japanese eggplant,

& rainbow chard,

months passing as quickly

as moon phases –

so let’s take a stroll, interlace

your basil scented fingers with mine

and when we kiss,

we’ll feel our creamy avocado souls

collide.

Strawberry Savings Account

A sunny Monday morning brings to mind my waffle maker, and the 10+ pounds of strawberries in the freezer. This waffle variety is half rice flour, half buckwheat flour, all delicious. They turned out surprisingly light and airy, with a lot of grainy crunch. Under this mound of fresh strawberries, I barely needed a drizzle of maple syrup.