The recipe that I am about to share with you is one I will most likely never make again, at least not for a long , long time. Don’t get me wrong—it was really good!
As some of you may remember, I was on a soup kick a couple months ago. I was attempting to jam as many vegetables and healthy fats (snicker, I just accidentally typed ‘farts’. Farts are healthy too) into one easily eaten bowl. This was my way of feeling useful and proactive when my Papa was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to create any other recipes for him, as he died two months later on Valentine’s Day.
I normally would feel uncomfortable sharing such intimate things with the anonymous vastness that is the internet, but my Papa was a public guy. He was the editor of a local newspaper, and then moved on to positions in communications and media relations. So when he was diagnosed, he was excited to collaborate with me here, using The Keen Kitchen as a space to share words and cancer-fighting recipes . We both hoped and believed that this would carry on a lot longer than it did.
I am lucky to have collaborated with Papa several times in the past. When I was 9, he had my review one of my favourite albums at the time, Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Candles, Snow & Mistletoe, put in the paper. When I was 14 and at the peak of my awkward years, I again wrote something that was published (I can’t remember what), accompanied by the worst photo of me in existence. Last year, after reading my blog, he gave me a shot at interviewing people and writing stories for the charity organization where he worked, leading me in a roundabout way to the newspaper job I have now. So even though he verbally tried to discourage me from going down this path, I now realize that he believed in and nurtured my abilities, inadvertently grooming me to follow in his footsteps.
This post has been months in the making. As things progressed, Papa moved more slowly, but he was determined to write something about this soup, even a week before he succumbed to his failing liver. I felt like I needed to write this before moving on to other posts—something I couldn’t face until now. I’ve still been cooking and have made a few things that I deemed bloggable, but it just didn’t feel right to do so. I do want to carry on creating recipes and writing, especially since he was so supportive of this endeavor. I know I’ll think of him every time I write and use my portable photo studio, and that my heart will ache every time. Unfortunately this is life, and we just have to carry on and try to live in an exemplary fashion, doing justice to the memory of those we have lost. I still feel like Papa is here somehow, and I hope I can continue to make him proud.
And keep making healing soups, like this one.
As usual, this recipe makes a big pot of soup. It’s tasty by itself, but a drizzle of fresh cilantro pesto really takes it to another level, so I strongly recommend making it! A warning, though: it has a strong garlic flavour, which I love but some may not. It’s so good for you, though.
As for the soup itself, the ingredients are quite flexible. Have anything else green and lovely on hand? Throw it in! The more the merrier.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (or even better, broccoli. I just didn’t have any on hand.)
1 kettleful of water
1 tbsp bouillon powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 kales leaves, torn
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro Pesto Ingredients:
1 bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
Heat oil on medium in a large soup pot. Add onions, zucchini and cauliflower and/or broccoli and fry until softened.
Meanwhile, boil a kettleful of water.
Add herbs, bouillon, garlic and kale to the pot, stirring until wilted. Add the white beans and the boiling water (about 6 cups). Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all the veggies are soft.
While the soup is simmering away, make your cilantro pesto: throw all ingredients into a small jar and stir. Done.
When the veggies are soft, add the fresh spinach and let cook a couple minutes until it’s wilted.
Take the soup off the heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a generous drizzle of cilantro pesto.