Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spicy Vegetable Soup

A couple of months ago I took up a friend's invitation to go on a 10-day meditation retreat. If you've never been to one, and might be thinking about it, I suggest that you try it. It was the most mentally and physically challenging exercise I've done in a long time and I've discovered that many of us don't like our own company very much. (After ten days, you'll have a whole different perspective about your self - in a really good way).

We were served two meals a day with simple, wholesome dishes. The simplicity of the food brought out the flavours of the ingredients. It tasted alive! It might have been the fresh air or the peace that surrounded us but everything was vibrant and delicious. (My taste buds was at its happiest).

One of the dishes I enjoyed (and thought most about) was the vegetable soup. The original recipe wasn't spicy but I've made it hot and perfect for a cold autumn's night. The can tomatoes adds a sour tang to the soup while the vegetables gives it some natural sweetness. What you'll get is a rustic and hearty hot, sour and sweet soup.

I'm extremely pleased with this recipe and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Spicy Vegetable Soup (serves 6)
8 cups of water
2 cubes of vegetable stock (10g each)
1 tbsp of sea salt
2 fistful of barlotti beans; 2 fistful of lentils; 2 fistful of black eye beans; 2 fistful of red kidney beans
3 large spuds, cubed
1/4 of butternut pumpkin, cubed
1 leafy vegetable
1 large onion, diced
1 zucchini
1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
1 tsp rosemary; 1 tsp thyme; 1 tsp cumin; *1 tsp hot paprika
1 tbsp of olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and saute until tender for a couple of minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, beans and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer.
3. When the soup boils, throw in the vegetable stock and sea salt.
4. Stir in pumpkin and spuds. Wait for approx. 15 minutes.
5. Stir in the chopped greens and zucchini. Wait another minute.
6. Throw the spices in. Let the soup simmer for approx. 10 minutes.
7. Ladle into bowls, and serve with crunchy, fried shallots.

*Note: If you're not too keen on the heat, reduce the amount of hot paprika to half.