Monday, November 2, 2009

My fellow foodie....

She was regular enough that we could continue conversations where we last left off, but not regular enough that I knew her name. When last she was in the Thai restaurant where I work, we were talking about food. Not the food that I was carefully packing into a bag for her lunch, but the kind you grow. We talked about eating locally and gardening. I told her about my blog. Then last week, she popped in, ordered the dish I had recommended to her on her last visit, and asked me if I had ever seen Canadian garlic. I told her I had. We talked about garlic politics and how much we prefer Canadian garlic. There had been a garlic seller earlier this summer at the farmer's market. I had thought that he would be there again and deemed it too early for a braid of garlic. He never returned. I told her how disappointed I was that I had missed out on the opportunity. She told me that she grew garlic herself that summer. She asked if I wanted some. Did I? Of course I did, I replied, perhaps a little too exuberantly. I was certain that this was a rhetorical question. Who didn't want fresh, locally grown bulbs of garlic? She left with her lunch, promising to return the following day with her gift of garlic.
The following morning, I watched eagerly as customers came and went. I told myself that people offer gifts all the time and never follow through. My mother always told me that it was the thought that counted. Hopefully, this thought would taste like garlic. And suddenly she came bouncing into the restaurant with an overstuffed brown paper bag, her face obscured by the feathery green tops of a bunch of carrots. Before I could say anything else, I blurted, "What's your name?" She laughed, "Trish". I smiled, took the bag from her and told her my name. She had literally just finished pulling this bounty out of her garden. The bag was filled with carrots, leeks, red onions and precious garlic. I inhaled deeply. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And as quickly as she came, she went. She left me dreaming about the endless possibilities...
The next morning I rose bright and early, scrubbed the dirt of the vegetables, trimmed them, and chopped them up into large chunks. I had decided the day before that I was going to try out this vegan soup recipe that I had found in a cookbook entitled Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes by Devra Gartenstein.

Roasted Leek and Carrot Soup

1 pound carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound leeks, washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered
1 whole head of garlic, broken into unpeeled cloves
3 T olive oil
2 Q vegetable stock or water
1 c white wine
1 c fresh parsley, chopped

¼ c nutritional yeast
1 t salt
2-3 T balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450.
Toss carrots, leeks, and onion with the oil and spread on cookie sheet, leaving one corner free. Put the garlic cloves in the same bowl and mix around to get the last of the oil, then place in corner of the cookie sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until golden.
Meanwhile, combine stock, wine, parsley, nutritional yeast, and salt and simmer over medium-low heat. When the veggies are roasted, add carrots, leeks, and onion to the stock, and squeeze the garlic out of the cloves, adding the garlic to the soup and discarding the skins. Once veggies have been added, simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic. Let cool for about 15 minutes.

Blend soup in batches until smooth, taste, and adjust seasonings. Return to pot, reheat and serve.

My soup was made without the nutritional yeast because I didn't have any and I think it was just fine without it. I put only 2 1/2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar but I think it could have used a little less. The soup was fantastic! All the flavours worked really well together. You could actually taste the freshness of the produce. The only problem with the soup was how it looked. It was the most disgusting soup I had ever seen. It smelled wonderful but it was an orangey-brown colour that just looked wrong. If you are a person who is affected by food aesthetics, this might not be the soup for you. Otherwise it was full of flavour and extremely healthy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Trish! :)

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