14 February 2013

Lady Neona Tribute: Tahini Soup

Lady Neona Tribute: Tahini Soup

There's a branch on my spiritual family tree that this morning curled towards light coming from a different direction. The Lady Neona Alansyn of the Abbey at Kilbride Croft has left us mortals, passing away to--another round on the wheel of rebirth? Nirvana? Who's to say? All's there is to say is what's in front of us: that she is beyond the suffering she experienced in this lifetime as she bravely fought cancer to the end.

One of the soups I made for her and Laird Seanne was a tahini soup. The Lady Neona liked tahini and was excited when I told her what was in the soup. I found this soup particularly healing when I first became vegan and had to cook for myself in summer 2010, when I became gluten-free in spring 2011 and had no onions or garlic in the house, and when returned to VA after a weekend at home and whipped it up in a few hours to share for Monday supper at the Abbey. It's a transition soup, at least, from my personal history, and its earthy blend of chickpeas, root vegetables, and tahini makes it a grounding soup, too.

Tahini Soup
Recipe from Ownie Mom, no source given

Sautee route (2010):
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup grated carrots
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small red onion, diced

Roasting route (2012):
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
12 ounces baby carrots, halved lengthwise
2 red onions, quartered
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Rest of the soup:
2 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups water or vegetable broth (as I was stringently avoiding nightshades when I made it in December, I didn’t use Better than Bouillon broth base as it contains tomatoes and potato starch)
1/3 cup tahini (raw or roasted, your preference; I prefer raw)
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup) or 2 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar
zest of 1 lemon (or an orange)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne (optional)
2-4 cups of water to thin (optional)

Sautee route: heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onion, carrots, and garlic and stir.  Sautee until vegetables have softened and onion is just turning translucent, about 7-10 minutes.

Roasting route: preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat the vegetables in the oil and spices and spread on a baking sheet.  Roast for 1 hour or until softened.

Immediately, for sautéing route, or in an hour, for roasting route: in a blender or food processor, puree half or all of the chickpeas, 3 cups of broth or water, tahini, lemon juice and zest, and spices.  Add this entire mixture to the pot with the sautéed vegetables, heat through, and serve.

If going with roasted veg, puree a third of the roasted veg with 4 cups of water.  When ready to serve, combine roasted veg, pureed roasted veg, pureed beans and tahini, and whatever else you would like to add (NOT raw baby carrots unless you cut them really fine, as I learned, because they will still be veeeery crunchy), and cook until heated through.

Serve over…collards, steamed or raw.  Heat with a 16-ounce bag of frozen mixed veggies for a more substantial stew.  Add a can of tomatoes for a more reddish colour and tomatoey tang.  The “broth” is pretty basic and would be good for Middle Eastern dishes of similar stripes.

2010 version, no onion and garlic, includes tomato and a bag of mixed frozen veggies:

It’s strange, this morning after she had already left this world though I didn’t know it, I decided to wear a pair of leggings that had belonged to the Lady Neona before cancer changed her shape. I was wearing them when I read the news of her death. I’m glad I didn’t already have a scheduled blog post for today because I knew at some point I would want to recognise this amazing, strongest lady I know for the light she brought to this world.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day. Tell your loved ones you love them.

Requiescat in pace, Nancy—you are alive in our hearts yet.
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