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Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category

Being a long-term expat gives a person a unique perspective, as you well may imagine – an outside eye with insider access – and in the case of these bloggers, the ability to be ambassadors to the world at large.  It’s been a while since I focused on food myself, and I want to highlight to whoever may be reading, a review of some incredible blogs – AND – their very special qualities.  I’ve chosen and linked some specific posts to shed a light on the diversity of boutique dairies and cheeses, markets, spices, comfort foods, and out-of-the-way corners/villages/eateries that guidebooks would never even know to mention.  Enjoy!

Milk, Dairies, and Cheese

Israelis love their cheeses, eaten (much to my chagrin, actually) very fresh.  For fresh cheeses, however, they’re extraordinary.  A huge variety of cow, goat, and sheep cheeses are produced by the largest and smallest boutique dairies all over the country.  Baroness Tapuzina told us about her visit to the Ein Kamonim goat far recently.  Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge posted about a comparison between camel, cow, goat, and buffalo milk, oh my!  To add my recommendations on Israeli cheese, I adore the Markovitch Dairy – run by a sweet couple, on their own, with their goats, near Petach Tikvah – they make a cheese very similar to Camembert, with a blue center – during events they cater, they stuff big majoul dates with a softer goat cheese – to die for.  A bigger better-known artisanal cheese-maker is the Jacobs Farm – they make a hard cheese with pimento and caraway seed that is so incredibly different – it took me a while to like it, but I adore it now.

Markets and Places

Pita with zatar

My friend Liz, of Cafe Liz fame, is truly a market connoisseur.  Actually, most of these bloggers probably are, but I as know Liz well and we hang out in Tel Aviv quite a bit – she has been my personal ambassador to some gems.  Here, she tells us about Ramle, an out-of-the-way melting pot of a little town near the airport with an incredible history.  Here, a foray into the Levinsky Street market, undoubtedly the best place to buy spices in Tel Aviv – a bizarre 2-3 blocks of storefront if you’ve ever seen one.  And in a post I highly recommend, Where to Buy Food in Tel AvivLiz compared the prices of several basic food items at the shuk (market), and several commercial and organic stores around town – with very interesting findings for the consumer.

Sarah has a whole page devoted to shuks (markets), that you should really check out.  She’s written about Nazareth on a couple of occasions, somewhere most of us urban-folk would never venture.  The food scene is incredible there, and the New York Times recently featured it in an article, “Nazareth as an Eating Destination.”  A great pictorial is Spice Up Your Life in Nazareth, and a more complete anecdote is Nazareth Shuk: A Kaleidoscope for the Senses.  Another great post is by Miriam Kresh, the veteran blogger of Israeli Kitchen, also littered with fabulous photographs.  Miriam’s knowledge of the natural foods around us and the making of such basic (yet to us, complex) processes such as wine-making, soap-making, lotion-making, olive-pickling, and much more is astounding.

Comfort Food Around Us

Stuffed peppers

The new Jerusalemite among us is Ariella, of Ari Cooks.  A trained pâtissière, I love reading through her recipes.  A recent post of hers focuses on soups, Soups for Thought, and it was so so so good. So apt for the winter, so cold this year, making up for last year’s heat wave.  She links to several other soup recipes, so it’s an excellent resource.  Miriam has a great post on pickling olives at home, a local staple, olives are.  Sarah is hands down the kubbeh expert among us, and if you don’t know what these lovely semolina dumplings stuffed with meat are, do click her link.  Here is also Sarah’s excellent, beautiful, and brief journey through Israeli foods, including the ubiquitous falafel, foreigners so know us by.

I have skipped so much and focused on too few blogs — the amount of recipes, the innovation of this cooking, this east-meets-west, foreign-domestic, old-new, always fresh outlook displayed by the food bloggers of Israel is inspiring.  If you live here, I hope you choose to eat well and eat interestingly.  If you don’t live here, when you visit, make food a priority.  It’s so special and vibrant and fresh here.

Have a great week, all!  Here’s to getting through the winter!

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I respect fungi.  I truly do.  They are as fascinating as they are a brutally tough adversary.  They’ve been on my mind, so, yes, this will be a slightly more personal post, but mostly, I’d like to get my thoughts out there on the brilliance and genius of fungi.

Fun Fungi Facts

  • Fungi are in their own kingdom.  That’s right.  They are not plants.  They are not animals.  They are separate.
  • Fungi are not photosynthetic.  They are saprophytic, deriving their food from dead and/or decaying organic matter.
  • Fungi are inconspicuous.  We normally notice them only when they flower, e.g. the mushroom caps that we eat.  They really have extremely strong and complex networks underground and within and around other organisms.  They are everywhere!
  • Yeast spores

    Fungi you know: mushrooms and truffles (for eating), yeast (for bread, wine, beer, and countless other things that are fermented), antibiotics including penicillin (you know, for preventing us from dying from all the seemingly simple diseases and raised life expectancy by close to 30 years within a century), and much much more.

  • Fungi grow and thrive in our bodies.  One common method for their survival is symbiosis with animals and plants.
  • Fungi are the molds that grow on our cheeses and breads and all things nasty rotting in our fridge.  In fact, fungi are responsible for the breakdown of most dead things.
  • Fungi are really important – They are the top and bottom (whatever way you see it) of the food chain – breaking things down, so that plants can use them again.
  • Finally, fungal infections are perhaps some of the most difficult things to get rid of.  Take it from me.  Most of the time, you never think it’s that bad.  A chronically upset stomach.  Some embarrassing itching.  Some peeling skin on your feet and fingers.  Like the fungi out in the world, burrowing deep and forming vast networks, our symptoms are the tip of the iceberg.  And the creams and pills doctors prescribe usually only treat the symptoms.  Which means the fungus doesn’t really die “all the way.”  Remember, it burrowed.  It may become stronger, and then it will come back, again, and again, and again.  Because it never really left.  And it adores feeding off of us.

All in all.  All in all.  My issues with fungi in several of my bodily tracts have recently flared up again.  Not surprising as I’ve gotten a bit lax with my eating habits.  Not as terrible as a couple years ago when I was in fungus-crisis-mode.  I know the early symptoms now.  And I know that to get rid of a fungus, or at least keep a really firm grip on it, you have to starve it.  Now, some would say my approach is “alternative.”  But after having a 6-month painful off-and-on infection taking prescribed medicine after prescribed medicine and doctors telling me to give it a chance, that it’s in my head, bla bla bla, I finally, tearfully panicked, went to a Chinese healer who gave me very specialized plant tinctures to take several times a day for months.  Along with some diet modifications, it did the trick.  So…because I’ve been eating way too much sugar the last few months…I’ve got to get back into gear.  I’m not happy about it, but that’s the way it is.

How do you starve out a fungus?  Fungi thrive on sugar. Period.  Sugar means sugar of all sorts: granulated, honey, fruit, white processed starches.  Also, fungi are in lots of our foods already.  Anything that was fermented.  Breads.  Wine.  Beer.  What does this mean for me?  I’m on a diet of leafy greens, and although I love leafy greens, the first few days without standard carbs is killing me.  You’d be surprised how many sandwiches we eat.  How many croissants.  How much sugar in our coffee.  How many fruits (as healthy as they are – I once had a violent outbreak right after eating a juicy pear).  No ice cream.  No chocolate.   No spaghetti.  No potatoes (too starchy, easy sugar).

So I went to the shuk (market), and I bought huge bunches of kale, celery, sorrel, mint, green beans of two varieties, garlic (excellent for anti yeast), cilantro, ginger, and rocket.  I made a large pot of mostly-sorrel soup last night with some zucchini and lots of ginger (in actuality, almost all the greens went in in various capacities, but sorrel for a soup base is incredible – a great thickener, and the sour taste is really something).  I had a rocket-cilantro-tahini salad for breakfast.  I had a small bowl of soup for a snack.  I had a lettuce-radish-endive-egg salad for lunch.  And I am friggin starving.  Thank goodness tahini is allowed and recommended by some.  Almonds and most nuts, too.  But I want my chocolate.  I’d like some crackers and popcorn.  I want a glass of scotch (alcohol=sugar and it was fermented, so there could be yeast…bla, bla, bla).  I want an easy cooking job like boiling some noodles.  Greens have such a low caloric count that you really understand why cows have to constantly eat.

Candy mushrooms = eww!

Ideas to make it better – I am starting with the whole grains again.  A lot of those are allowed.  Oatmeal is awesome.  Buckwheat should be OK.  Quinoa, too.   At the suggestion of a friend, I also bought some peanut butter and cocoa powder to mix together — perhaps it will fulfill the urge for desserts.   Tahini does that for me sometimes.  I am not ashamed to admit I will sit around and eat whole cucumber after whole cucumber dipping them directly into raw tahini when there isn’t anything else I can eat.  I think of it as tahini fondue.  Yogurts are great too, but too much dairy is also not good, so you have to be moderate there.  Apple cider vinegar, although of course fermented, is heralded by many as a miracle cure.  I’ve taken to drinking some diluted in water.  I also take a pro-biotic supplement.

Another note: I avoid antibiotics as much as possible these days.  Why?  Despite the fact that it kills off infection, and it’s terribly important – it weakens us, and it destroys the balance of all the little creepy crawlies inside.  Because antibiotics kill off bacteria (not just the infected area), fungus has the space to thrive.  Glaring infection of a completely different sort.  And that weakens us further.  We take prescription anti-fungals, this often causes the bacteria to over-multiply now, and we’re back to square one.  I take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary (part of why I’ve cut out all meat products).

So there you have it.  Most of us eat too much sugar.  Most of us have had athlete’s foot.  Some of us have some rotting nails, chronic digestive issues.  Many – perhaps a majority of women (and even some men) have had yeast infections.  Some people have had oral thrush.  And goodness knows, many of us have experienced unexplained bouts of sluggishness, depression, and other disturbing things.  A lot of this, if not all, can be attributed to fungus, most notable, Candida.  Living everywhere – on our skin, mostly notably, in the gut.  We can all stand to cut a lot of sugar out of our lives, pump lots of greens back in, and eat whole grains as opposed to processed everything (which is usually the case if you don’t go out of your way to get special breads and pastas, and eat foods out of boxes and cans, etc).

I hope this was elucidating rather than boring or disgusting.  I really welcome comments on this.  It’s an important subject to me, and goodness knows, I’m really not an expert.  I may have unknowingly exaggerated or confused some facts, above, so let me know.  I want to learn, too.

Mycorrhizae – fungus root – mutually beneficial relationship between plants and some fungus

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The gorgeousness that is sorrel

It looks like spinach but tastes NOTHING like it.  A sour, delicate leaf, perfect in soups and stews as it has a remarkable thickening quality while retaining its vibrant taste.  Spinach cannot compare.  I don’t know why the whole world isn’t cuckoo for sorrel.  In fact, I’m hoping to start a trend here.  People, if you haven’t tried it, take my word for it, you simply must.  Period.  With the scents that were wafting out of the kitchen, we knew we had one legendary meal in the making.

Today, after a rather frustrating morning of heavy work, I boarded the bus to Jerusalem, on a whim.  One of my favorite friends, the lovely queendeb, resides there on the border of Baka and Talpiot (although she only admits to Talpiot). We don’t get together as often as we should, and as two creative food-minded people, we decided on a cooking project.  I brought the sorrel and a bottle of Israeli-Champagne (GHW’s Gamla Brut).  In her quirky kosher kitchen (with her little brother in NYC on video-Skype the entire time), we proceeded in what felt like an adventurous cooking show.  Here’s what became of our evening:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small celery root, chopped
  • 1 yam, chopped
  • 500 g chicken wings
  • 1 bunch sorrel, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 left whole
  • handful of cilantro stems, chopped
  • 3-4 small celery stalks with leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 white cabbage, cut into large in-tact wedges
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 finely chopped, 1/2 in strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 shot Laphroaig Whisky
  • chipotle pepper to taste
  • pepper, garlic powder, chili, etc to taste
  1. In a large soup pot over high heat, drizzle olive oil, then brown the chicken wings.  Remove.
  2. Whisk together the mustard and soy sauce.
  3. With the fat of the chicken left behind, add the onion, garlic, celery root, and yams (in that order – waiting a minute between additions).  Cook at medium heat until sweating/softened.  Add mustard/soy sauce.
  4. Layer the chicken wings evenly over the vegetables.  Then sprinkle the chopped sorrel, chopped celery & celery leaves, and cilantro stems evenly over the chicken.
  5. Sprinkle chipotle pepper over the surface.
  6. Create a layer with the whole sorrel leaves spread flat.  Place the cabbage wedges over the sorrel evenly.
  7. Pour the whisky over the contents of the entire pot.  Allow to cook for a few minutes to let the alcohol evaporate.
  8. Sprinkle all the lemon zest, and pour lemon juice over the contents of the pot.
  9. Without stirring, slowly and carefully pour two glasses of water into the pot.
  10. Bring to a boil, reduce flame to lowest possible, cover and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.  Do not stir, but checking to ensure the bottom layer isn’t burning is fine.  Add pepper, spices, etc at the end, to taste.
  11. Serve over couscous or rice.

The resulting stew-y casserole was pure heaven.  Rich, smoky, sour, spiced.  The smoky qualities of both the Laphroaig and the chipotle pepper, combined with the tartness of the sorrel and the lemon components, were so complementary, it was wild!  All the veg fell apart, becoming almost caramel-like.  The sorrel indeed thickened things up, and oh me, oh my, the lemon zest was a joy in and of itself!  The layering method came about organically, in that we thought it would be interesting to allow the leafier veg to steam in the lovely saucy broth of the layers beneath it.  And what can I say of the chicken?  It fell off the bone.  So tender.  So moist.  So perfect.

The best part was, even though we didn’t know where we’d end up, we always knew we could do it.  Two savvy seasoned cooks with random well-loved ingredients having a ball.  The bubbly went great with the meal, and I’m so glad we drank it.  This meal was a shining beacon in the middle of a drab work week.  So, it’s a yes to letting loose!  A yes to drinking your best wine for no reason but to enjoy it in the here and now!  And a resounding yes to sorrel! To single malt scotches everywhere! To lemon rinds!  To chipotle! L’chaim, l’chaim to life!

And I’ve driven myself into the cheesy corner.  But it really felt like that.  A meal as a celebration.  Even with just a couple lonesome American-Israeli friends.  Especially because.

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Corny, I know.

But it was a long day. Vaguely productive. But long.

After completing an article about Tu B’Shvat for a new English-language magazine, running a bunch of errands, cleaning the house, and doing some work, I was hungry indeed.  So hungry, that I needed it to be very fast, or it would have been cookies or a hunk of cheese crammed down the gullet.

Here’s what happened:

I boiled 1 litre of water in my kettle, got a pot ready on the stove, and readied the following ingredients:

  • 1 serving green tea buckwheat noodles
  • 3 tbs soy miso
  • soy sauce
  • seaweed flakes
  • 1/4 cup cubed firm tofu
  • chili flakes
  • pepper

After the water had boiled and transferred into the pot (turn heat on high), I threw everything in, in just about that order.  And I got a very decent miso soup with noodles (not exactly traditional) in about 5 minutes.  Boy, was I happy camper.  Healthy as heck, very flavorful, and on this winter day (granted I’m not snowed in like my family stateside) it was perfect in my drafty heater-less rooftop (= windy) Tel Aviv apartment.

Overexposed and not fit for tastespotting, but it was an awesome surprise of a pancake

Later at night, I felt even “lower tech” at dinner hour, and I couldn’t fathom even a five-minute soup.  One egg was left in the fridge (went marketing yesterday, spent a minor fortune, and didn’t get eggs!?!), not quite enough for a satisfying meal, but it was a start.  I decided to go with an omelet-esque idea, and I whipped the one egg (not with milk or cream…oh no) with three big tablespoons of low fat sour cream.  It got nice and creamy.  I added a dash of salt, pepper, chili, and a couple shakes of dried basil.  It then occurred to me that it might be a good idea to add a starch to bind the very goopy mostly dairy  concoction.  I sprinkled in about a quarter cup of flour, mixed well, and then realized I had made myself a dinner of savory pancake mix for one.  I diced a handful of hard white cheese (cheddar or similar – we call our generic hard cheese “yellow cheese” here in Israel – embarrassing, I know), poured two medium sized pancakes into the frying pan, lightly coated with some extra virgin, dropped the cheese onto the tops, flipped them over when the bottom side had browned, and proceeded to make two perfect, very satisfying savory cheese pancakes. An accident.  A fluke. Kitchen improv at its best.

To review:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs sour cream
  • dash each of salt, pepper, chili, dried basil
  • handful or two of flour
  • handful of small cubes of a hard cheese

Enjoy the pics folks! You too can make meals out of whatever’s left in the fridge! I promise.  No fear! That’s the key.

A better angle...

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I’m transferring some older blog posts from various sites I’m abandoning to my new, hopefully, permanent blog.  Here’s a particular favorite of mine from a trip to the south of France in late September ’09… Enjoy!

__________

Oh boy did I have an appetite for destruction last night. Tired off my butt, and I mean so tired that I almost didn’t leave my hotel room (then remembered that eating one small sandwich all day long and having walked 10k+ wasn’t healthy and consequently nearly fell asleep several times over dinner) — I ordered the only thing on the menu that would send every foreign tourist running for the hills — “Pieds et Paquets.”

Pieds et paquets translates as “feet and packages.” Yes. You heard that right. Even the “packages,” part. The dish consists of sheep tripe folded into elegant little objects much resembling large tortellini stuffed with herbed breading, as well as sheep feet (bent ankle bone and all the stuff further south), slow cooked in a very lovely savory sauce which I’m told is based on white wine.

I don’t know how I did it. I really don’t. That’s not to say it wasn’t delicious. It was. I eat strange things. All the time. I think it’s exciting and makes life more interesting to take risks like this. But when you think you’re coming down with a cold and feel weak and haven’t slept in two days and are not really convinced you’re hungry in the first place, this could have been a disastrous mistake.

Thankfully it wasn’t. I don’t know if any of you dear, dear phantoms of readers have ever experienced this before, but I’m going to try to describe the sensation of what I was going through. My brain and body were in a battle from the moment the covered silver platter was set down beside me, and a deep elegant ceramic bowl was placed in front of me. See, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get. Didn’t know how it would look or smell or anything. I did have an inkling of what the texture would be like, having eaten tripe many times before. But not sheep. And not in this manner. And certainly not in my vulnerable physical condition. The word I would use for the entire experience would be “musky.” For some that’s great. For others it’s sickening. It was gamey and gooey and chewy. And the whole time I cut apart my first piece, the musky gamey smell wafting up into my nose, I was fighting nausea. Not a strong nausea. But a tiny persistent, “ah, you there, ya you…are you quite sure that’s such a good idea…” kinda nausea. Some people would have listened to that little voice. But not me. And in the end, as I didn’t get sick, slept very well through the night, and feel better than ever today, I’m very glad I didn’t.

Most of you will never want to eat tripe, especially not sheep tripe rolled into big meatball-sized bread-filled bundles and stewed with its relation, the foot (which by the way, is all fat and skin and cartilage with hardly a trace of muscle). Hopefully, though, I’ve now communicated that it cannot and will not kill you, and if you can get over the musky smell and uber-strange texture so common to offal, you may enjoy it, and it may in fact cure your weary body and send it on its healthy way.

Anyway, I just got to Avignon. Again exhausted, but not quite so much as in Marseille. And instead of a steep 2-story walk-up with super-heavy luggage, I had a 4-story walk-up with heavier luggage (thanks to a chance encounter with an H&M yesterday and an adventure in an immigrant-filled market this morning).

The town is gorgeous, and it’s so sunny, it really does look like an impressionist painting or a post card. I’ll have a gander as soon as I rest my weary head for a spot and consider showering off the accumulating sweat. Yes. I just said accumulating sweat.

Cheerio! Or rather, A bientot!

And if you ever want to try making your own paquets…

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By Irene Sharon Hodes

Published in the Shiur Times Magazine, October 2008

The rain has been pouring down hard tonight. I feel relief. It’s back to this. Always this. A hot mug of Earl Grey, a cookie to dunk, a good book, a purring cat, this bright warm corner of the world and a window from which to look out upon the rest of it – shelter from the storm. The chagim are over. As cathartic, joyful, and fulfilling as they were, this first month of the year – my first Tishrei in Israel – was a marathon of a whirlwind of a rollercoaster. A clearly confused, chaotically ordered, tear-peppered laughter, ever-moving, ever-so-long of a month. It’s high time for some comfort.

Cheshvan, the month without holidays, is anomalous indeed in the Jewish calendar. I, on the other hand, am thankful for it. There is nothing wrong with a month of normal. In fact, it makes sense. The dull task of getting back to the business of life is actually rather important. After every beginning, we need to build the rest. Because it’s coming on winter – a darker and colder time, by nature – and it’s a time to be sensible, to work, to prepare. For me, the absence of holidays does not mean the absence of joyful moments. In fact, getting back to basic routines highlights those simplest of pleasures. It’s the perfectly spicy-tangy-dripping shakshuka during my lunch break; the midnight PB&J I shovel into my happy American mouth; and the blessing of hot chicken soup and challah on Shabbat.

In America, the tail end of November brings Thanksgiving, which beside Pesach, is my favorite holiday. A celebration after the harvest, before the worst of winter comes to call. Like with many Jewish holidays, I relish the opportunity to reflect collectively on the blessings of our lives. And of course, there is the never-ending parade of comfort foods. As I grew up, I absorbed the meaning of “labor of love” through my fingers, flesh, and aching bones while creating these feasts – my vast array of spiced pies, chestnut stuffing, orange-zesty cranberry sauce, and of course the succulent herb-crusted bird. I grew to understand that the pleasure was as much in the work as it was in devouring the delectable meal.

We equate food with comfort, and rightly so. Food activates the release of chemicals which physically calm us. Food is one of the most powerful triggers of memories. And food brings people together. Altogether, when we eat, we become physically content, remember happy memories, and are usually joined by friends and family. We don’t need festivals and holidays to eat. We must eat every day, and best more than once. Every time we do, we comfort ourselves and each other. Whether a crust of bread or a lavish banquet, every meal is a celebration – a celebration of our hard work and survival.

Last year, as a very new olah, I went to a massive catered Thanksgiving dinner at a hotel. Nice as it was to not be alone, this year will be different. I’m looking forward to these cold nights ahead, listening to the deafening drumming of the raindrops outside. After all, I’ve got a gigantic menu to plan.

Maria’s Brownies

You, dear readers, in the simple act of your reading, are participating in an unprecedented event: I am sharing my most prized recipe. It came down from my father through his first secretary, and I am not exaggerating when I say that these are the best brownies in the world. I dislike the word “best,” in all its impossible, immeasurable, innate exclusivity. But in this case, it just happens to be true. They are at once decadent and the epitome of comfort food. A dish that would be as much in its element at the Ritz as it would be at the corner deli. This recipe has been one of my life’s greatest comforts. In my younger years, I protected this recipe with my life. I know better now. Thank you, Daddy, for making these for us, and thank you Maria for sharing the recipe with him.

4 oz. (115 grams) Bittersweet chocolate
½ C. Butter
2 C. Sugar
1 C. Flour
1 tsp. Vanilla
4 eggs
1 C. Chocolate Chips
2 C. Mini-marshmallows
1 C. chopped walnuts

1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F (180˚ C). Grease a 13” X 9” (33 cm x 23 cm) pan.
2) Melt chocolate and butter together. Let cool slightly. Beat in sugar well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Mix in flour.
3) In a separate bowl, combine chocolate chips, marshmallows, and walnuts. Add to batter and mix well.
4) Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth even. Bake 40-45 minutes. Let cool until set. Cut and serve.


Red Lentil, Pumpkin and Apricot Soup

A very easy, very interesting, very comforting winter soup. With thanks to Jeremy Collins, who may have the right to claim this recipe; to Diana Pyatov for watching him make it and attempting to replicate it with me; and to the internet and my culinary school education, for helping me refine the technique and amounts. Amazing how recipes are created, compressed, stretched, torn to pieces and put back together again!

1kg of pumpkin (or any hard squash, i.e. butternut), peeled and de-seeded, cut into small chunks
150g red lentils, rinsed and drained
50g dried apricots, roughly chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
4 cups boiling water
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1) Pour the olive oil into a soup pot, and over a medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic until softened. Sprinkle in the ground turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin. Cook, stirring constantly for another minute.

2) Add the pumpkin, red lentils, apricots, and boiling water. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce heat. Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the pumpkin and lentils are soft. Take the pot off the stove to cool slightly.

3) Strain the solids from the broth, and proceed to blend the vegetables, adding the broth back little by little in the process, until the soup is smooth and the desired thickness has been achieved. If no food processor or blender is available, a potato masher and some elbow grease can do the trick.

4) Taste and season with salt and pepper before returning the soup to the pot and reheating.

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