Love is the only engine of survival.Leonard CohenWell guys, it has truly been a minute. I just counted today it’s been a month since I last posted, hot off the results of the US election, and reeling from the loss of our great Leonard Cohen. If there’s one thing I know I will recall from that time in history was that while the world seemed to be spinning in ways terrifyingly unfamiliar, I was personally feeling connected to family near and far and enjoying connections and affirmations in ways that I hadn’t for years. A short month ago I was in Toronto to attend the Taste Canada awards alongside the lovely Sophie from the gorgeous blog The Green Life, among other wonderful talents. It worked out almost too perfectly to have a family wedding to attend within a day of this event, and an almost too-perfect opportunity to re-connect with people I adore on both sides of my husband and I’s collective family. It was a really, really good trip, and I am still a little floored that I was honoured with a truly humbling piece of hardware — the Gold Award for Best English Food Blog, as selected by a truly impressive list of accomplished food writers and food personalities. Sophie’s The Green Life was honoured with the same award for Best French Food Blog (though her blog is impressively bilingual), and it was so, so fun to experience that together!
That, folks, was literally the cherry on top of what had already been a trip that exceeded expectations, be it by forging new friendships, healing old family wounds, or just enjoying a little time away from what can at times be a crazy hectic life here at home. I’ll tell you that staying in my cousins gorgeous west-side Toronto home did not hurt and neither did the sunny fall runs I enjoyed in High Park. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have received this honour, as the past few years have been a little challenging (just the way I like it), and at times it has felt that this little space has not received the attention I’d like to give it. I never set out to be a career blogger, as I’ve mentioned a few times before (for those who have been with me a while) – though I’ve watched as folks I admire very much have created flourishing businesses out of their passion for sharing food that they and their readers love. It’s so awesome to be a part of this in my own little way, and for that I am truly grateful to all who visit here to read these words, or share a recipe or two. A huge shout-out to all the other crazy talented bloggers too for continuing to inspire me with their beautiful work as well.
A few words about GRAIN ~ Hot on the heels of my return, life greeted me with our launch of the GRAIN online store, and a series of incredibly beautiful GRAIN-based recipes created by some blogging friends (you can get those recipes here, here, and here, with more on the way). We’re now shipping to all customers in Canada and the USA, as well as we’ve launched a referral program, where you can earn $10 every time a friend orders through us. We’ve been excited to make our products more widely available and were thrilled to see not only the recipes, but the packages heading out the door! 🙂 If you’d like to try GRAIN, use coupon code IPOM15 for 15% off your first order. Shipping is free for orders over $50 until Christmas, so head over if you are still looking for those last minute gifts, or just want to try them for yourself! You can shop the full store here.
Now on to this perfect winter recipe, a simple and super comforting one pot meal to warm your bones in the cold weather we’ve been having. I’ve been enjoying a new CSA box from the local growers Crisp Organics, and am now challenged to use vegetables each week that are truly local (and wow are they beautiful), but that I might not otherwise buy at my grocery store. I loved the fennel in this soup, along with the somewhat intense and unique spice combo (with the added wine it is divinely flavourful). Leave the pasta out for a lighter meal if you like, but do enjoy with extra olive oil and a thick slice of warm buttered bread.
In the past month I also made this incredible Open-Faced Toast with Crispy Chickpeas & Dukkah, which guys is SO GOOD. I’ve had Dukkah before but I’ve never made it at home, it’s a total game changer and I am finding myself sprinkling it on everything. I’ve also shared this tasty Quinoa Mushroom Burger that was also posted on the GRAIN site. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m always looking for a good burger recipe. I don’t eat them much but that could just be that I haven’t found the right one. With 2017 coming up, I’m thinking about adding ‘finding the perfect burger’ to my resolution list. Yup, it’s that time of year again 😉 Enjoy this recipe you guys, and thank you for reading as always! I’m super excited for the year that’s to come. xx
Winter Chickpea Minestrone:
~ Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
2 tbsp cooking oil, like Grapeseed
2 cups onions, chopped (1 large or two small)
3 cloves garlic, optional
1 cup diced celery
2 tsp salt
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato, yellow fleshed or Japanese
1 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb
2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle or seed grinder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
2.5 cups tomato Passata (a whole tall jar)
3.5 cups water
2 tsp honey
1/3 cup dry red wine (optional)
3/4 cup Ditali pasta, or Orzo
1.5 cups cooked Kabuli Chickpeas
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup packed minced fresh curly parsley
In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the onion, celery, and salt. Cook on low heat, stirring here and there, for 8-10 minutes. Next, add the fennel, squash, yams, and herbs and cook a further 5-6 minutes, being careful not to burn the veggies (add a splash of water to prevent sticking). Add the tomatoes, water, and wine if using (I recommend if you have it). Cover and simmer the soup for 25 minutes or so, on a medium-low heat.Add the beans, pasta, parsley, honey, and lemon juice and cook a further 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.
Serve hot with cubed avocado, a splash of good olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and additional fresh parsley. Parmesan would be a nice addition too. If the soup is too thick when heating leftovers, add a 1/2 or full cup of water to make it a little more watery. The flavours here are bold and will not be diluted by doing this.