I like this recipe for a number of reasons. First, it’s a great detox when you are feeling in the need for some cleansing. Second, it’s a great way to clean out the refrigerator when you’ve got odds and ends of kale, broccolini, mushrooms, green onions, whatever. Third, it’s a great way to carry any elemental, delicious, nurturing stock whether veggie, mushroom, or dashi. I adapted it from a new cookbook call A Love For Food. I went to London this past December with my Global Alliance for the Future of Food hat on, for a meeting on the true cost of food – check out what HRH The Prince of Wales has to say on the subject – and we were given the cookbook as a gift. It’s full of all sorts of British fare like Welsh Rarebit and Chutney, Bubble and Squeak, Pan Haggerty … you get the picture. Use the recipe below as a guideline but use your imagination and whatever happens to be  left in the back corners of your fridge.


GingerVeggieSoup2 tbsps olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

Various quantities of various vegetables (carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, celeriac, celery, leeks, etc.), chopped finely or shredded

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tsps fresh ginger root, minced

6 cups stock, veggie, mushroom, or dashi

bunch cilantro, chopped

bunch parsley, chopped

bunch of basil, chopped

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion and shredded vegetables, garlic and ginger, and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer while vegetables continue to cook and flavours meld, about 6 minutes. Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning and serve.

hot and sour soup

January 21, 2014

hot and sour soup

It’s -21 celsius (that’s -6 fahrenheit for our friends south of the border) here in Toronto which made me think that it’s a good day to put on a pot of hot and sour soup to warm the blood. I’m not exactly sure from whence and where hot and sour soup originates but lots of cultures have it – in China this soup is claimed variously by Beijing and Sichuan as a regional dish; Canh chua (literally “sour soup”) is indigenous to the Mekong River region of southern Vietnam; Cambodia has a version called Samlor machu pkong traditionally made with shrimp; Thailand has Tom yum; and India has its own versions typically made with red and green chillies, ginger, carrots, snow peas, tofu, soy sauce, rice vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Many hot and sour soups you find these days contain meat and some thickening agent like eggs or cornstarch, but the following version requires neither meat nor a thickener as the “hot” and “sour” stand out on their own on the main stage stage, as they should.

2 tbsps sunflower oil

6 green onions, white and green parts, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

1 pound firm tofu, cubed

8 – 10 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly

4 cups shiitake kombu dashi or veggie stock

1 tsp cane sugar

2/3 cup rice vinegar

3 tbsps tamari

1 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp sriracha*, or other hot sauce

ground pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat the sunflower oil over medium- high heat. Add the green onion, garlic, ginger, tofu, and mushrooms, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until the flavours meld and everything softens up a bit.

Add the dashi or stock, sugar, vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, and sriracha and bring the soup to a boil. Turn down to  simmer and let cook for 5 – 10 minutes over low heat. Add pepper to taste. Adjust to your liking with either more vinegar (for more “sour”) or more sriracha (for more “hot”).

Serve immediately with a little garnish of sesame oil, green onion, or pepper if you like.

*Please note that sriracha is now more than just a brand sauce. Other brands make sriracha and have been known to add shrimp paste. Huy Fong, the dominant provider of sriracha, does not have shrimp paste or fish sauce but just check before you buy.


I’ve posted other soups similar to this one, like the wabun point potage, ribollita, and minestrone. So this recipe is less about the actual recipe and more about the procurement of ingredients. We all have beans and rice in the pantry (or should!) but this soup features two ingredients that take this soup up a notch or several. First, instead of your ordinary grain, I used farro, or more specifically, emmer grown in the Garfagnana region of Tuscany with an IGP designation (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) which by law guarantees its geographic origin. Second, I used Gialet beans which are Slow Food Presidia protected. If you don’t know Presidia, “the Presidia sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties.” Wendell Berry says that “eating is an agricultural act” and it’s true. By purchasing foods that protect our farmers, our fields, our biodiversity, our traditions, we advocate for the systems we want and don’t want. All in a bowl of soup. 

4 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

8 baby potatoes, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced

handful of fresh thyme

1 cup farro

4 cups veggie stock, plus water from cooking the beans if necessary

1 cup stewed tomatoes

1 cup cooked gialet beans

sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Sauté onion, carrot, celery, and potatoes until they begin to soften up, about 10 – 15 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté until garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add dry farro and stir until coated with the olive oil. Add veggie stock and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes until farro is cooked. If you need more liquid, add additional veggie stock or some of the water from cooking the beans. Once the farro is done, add stewed tomatoes, gialet beans, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat for another 5 – 10 minutes until the flavours meld, adjust seasoning, and serve with some bread or other delicacy that sustains quality production, protects unique regions and ecosystems, recovers traditional processing methods, safeguards native breeds and local plant varieties.

creamy chanterelle soup

September 7, 2013

chanterelle soup

Cantharellus cibarius, commonly known as the chanterelle or girolle, is a fungus. It is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped. Wiki thinks that it has a fruity smell, reminiscent of apricots and a mildly peppery taste (hence its German name, Pfifferling). Wiki also tells me that chanterelles are relatively high in vitamin C, very high in potassium, and among the richest sources of vitamin D known. Which I have to say is pretty cool. I didn’t know that when I picked up a bag at the farmers’ market this morning. What I did know is that they are a fall delicacy, and freshly picked – as I found them this morning – make a fabulous soup.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 tsp fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound fresh chanterelles

2 Tbsp light spelt flour (or other light whole grain flour)

3 cups vegetable stock

1½ cups white beans, cooked (navy, butter, cannelini, great northern)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large cooking pot. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add minced garlic and thyme and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.

While the onions and garlic are cooking, clean chanterelles by removing any dirt with a damp cloth. Coursely chop the mushrooms and add to the pot. Cook until mushrooms become soft and fragrant. Add spelt flour, mix well, and cook for a few minutes over medium heat being careful not to burn.

Meanwhile, combine the vegetable stock and beans in a blender, and blend on high until creamy. Once done, add slowly to the pot with the onions and mushrooms, stirring as you go to make sure there are no clumps and you create a smooth base. Once added, continue to stir and then let simmer for a few minutes until the flavours meld.

When complete, put soup in the blender and blend to desired consistency but not too much to maintain a some texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with some good olive oil, fresh thyme, or small rounds of toast.

wabun point potage

September 1, 2013


Potage (from Old French pottage; “potted dish”) is a category of thick soups, stews, or porridges made by boiling vegetables, grains, and, if available, meat or fish. It was a staple food of all people living in Great Britain from neolithic times on into the Middle Ages. Potage commonly consisted of various ingredients easily available to serfs and peasants and could be kept over the fire for a period of days, during which time some of it was eaten and more ingredients added. The result was a dish that was constantly changing. Potage consistently remained a staple of the poor’s diet throughout most of the 9th-17th-century Europe.

Wabun Point is on Garden Island on Lake Temagami, and protects  a peaceful, rustic, homey cabin built, loved, passed on, and tended to by the Lewis family. We rented the cottage from Richard P. Lewis The Third and Marg Lewis (I assume The First)  for 10 days this summer and, on our last day there, emptied the fridge of whatever ingredients were left and came to the conclusion that the only reasonable thing to do with them was to make a potage in true peasant style on the old vintage Moffat stove. We did not keep it for days adding ingredients but, instead, slurped it down to the last drop in our bowls with a satisfied smack of the lips when it was all done, leaving a container or two in the fridge for Dick and Marg as the soup is now, officially, named after their sweet little abode. My recipe is below but it’s more of a guideline as the real McCoy has no recipe but is made from creativity and necessity.

Wabun Point Potage

3 tbsps olive oli

1 large spanish onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 large red potatoes, diced

1/4 head green cabbage, shredded

1/4 head red cabbage, shredded

4 carrots, shredded


2 cups veggie stock

28 oz can whole tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 cobs corn, niblets removed

3 tomatoes, diced

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch over on the stove or an open fire. Add chopped onions and sauté for a few minutes until they become soft and translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for another 2 -3  minutes until garlic becomes fragrant. Add diced potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and thyme. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add veggie stock, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, and red wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavours start to meld. Add fresh tomatoes and boil down until incorporated. Add corn niblets about 10 minutes before serving. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve with a nice crusty artisan bread, sit by the fire, and enjoy.

smokey corn chowder

October 13, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I gave you the recipe for smokey lentil tomato soup. Today I give you the recipe for smokey corn chowder. As the days get shorter, the nights grow longer, the air gets crispier, and the leaves start to fall I believe you really can’t have enough smokey soup in your life. I owe thanks to my dear friend Emily for this recipe who made it for the super G man’s 1st birthday. That’s her awesome little Gideon who is so cute it hurts. I made one slight change with inspiration from Naomi Duguid who posted a recipe from her new cookbook Burma for Silky Shan Soup in the Globe and Mail. How happy was I to learn the simple secret of water and chickpea flour to create a thick, smooth, pale yellow soup often served in Burma for breakfast? So happy! It was the perfect base for this thick, smooth, smokey, Canadian corn chowder. Long live friends and inter-cultural inspiration.

3/4 cup chickpea flour

2 tsps sea salt

5 cups water

3 tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 medium sized carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

5 small potatoes, diced

2 tsps sage

2 tsps thyme

2 tsps smoked paprika

2 bay leaves

2 cobs corn, cooked and nibs cut off the cob, or 1 can corn kernals

1 tbsp dijon

juice 1/2 lemon

sea salt and pepper

Combine the chickpea flour and sea salt in a medium bowl and add 1 cup of the water. Whisk well to blend and to get rid of any lumps. Set aside. Bring the remaining 4 cups water to a boil in a heavy pot, then lower the heat to medium-high. Whisk the chickpea mixture one more time, then, using a wooden spoon, stir continuously as you slowly add it to the boiling water. Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. After about 4 or 5 minutes the mixture will be smooth and silky with a sheen to it, and thickened. Add a bit more water, as necessary, if it’s too thick. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot. Add the onions and sauté until they start to soften. Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, and potatoes. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Add sage, thyme, smoked paprika, and bay leaves. Cook until the spices become fragrant. Add chickpea mixture and stir so everything becomes nicely blended.

Add corn and dijon. Turn down the heat and let the soup simmer until all the vegetables are cooked and the flavours have begun to meld. Before serving remove the bay leaves, add the lemon juice and sea salt and pepper to taste.


smokey lentil tomato soup

October 3, 2012

I’ve been sick. Ugh. But nothing a little soup can’t cure. I think soup is the elixir of the gods and can heal anything that ails you. This one fits the bill particularly with its smokey, earthy flavour, and its nutrition-packed rice and lentil combo (which together gives you a complete protein). Not to mention all the local, organic tomatoes we have about the house that are crying out to be put into something nourishing and satisfying and soulful. Pick me! Pick me! Well, tomatoes, you’re on and in you go with bean stock and carrots, onions and garlic. Who can resist?

4 tbsps olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 medium carrots, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1.5 tsps smoked paprika

2 litres stewed tomatoes, or 15 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 cups bean stock

1/2 cup green lentils

1/2 cup rice

2 bay leaves

sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Add onions and sauté until they are soft. Add garlic and sauté another minute or two until it becomes fragrant. Add carrots and sauté until they begin to sweat, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add spices and stir until they coat everything and start to release their lovely aroma, but be careful not to burn them.

Once the vegetables and spices have started to meld nicely, add the tomatoes, stock, lentils, rice, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer until the tomatoes have reduced and the rice and lentils are cooked. Once you’ve let everything simmer away for 30 – 45 minutes, remove the bay leaves and add sea salt and pepper to taste. Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until you have a  smooth consistency. Adjust seasoning. Serve piping hot.