Spring Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto |

This soup is a blend of basil and vegetables, healthy and delicious. Basil (Tulsi) is an aromatic herb mostly used in Italian cuisine. There is no better soup than this one, packed with nutrients to treat yourself on a rainy evening.

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the pesto

  • 25 g basil
  • 1 garlic flake, crushed
  • 25 g pistachio nuts
  • 25 g Parmesan-style cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt

For the soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and chopped
  • 100 g green beans, cut into short lengths
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 ½ liter hot vegetable stock
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 400 g cannelloni beans, soaked, cooked and drained
  • 35 g vermicelli

Method

To prepare the pesto, put the basil, garlic, nuts, Parmesan, olive oil and half a teaspoon salt in a food processor, and blitz until smooth.

Heat the oil, then fry the leek until softened.

Add the green beans and zucchini. Then pour in the stock and season to taste. Cover and simmer for five minutes.

Stir the tomatoes, cannelloni beans and vermicelli into the soup pan. Simmer for five minutes more until the vegetables are just tender.

Stir in half the pesto.

Ladle into bowls and serve with the rest of the pesto spooned on top.

Fruit compotes

I talk a lot about process here. Enjoying the journey. Being

in the moment. All that good stuff. 

I do because it’s not an automatic for me. I have to keep
reminding myself, to keep practicing it. 

It’s sometimes a struggle. To enjoy the journey for journey’s sake, no matter the outcome.

Pablo is really into puzzles these days. He can really focus
on them and he seems to enjoy figuring them out. In order to nurture his
patience, his perseverance, I try to be as hands off as possible. The other
day, I watched him struggle a bit putting some pieces together, getting some pieces
wrong, some pieces right. He was really profoundly in the moment, enjoying this
process, with no concept of success or failure, just pure journey. It took him
a while to get it done, but he did. I said, ‘Well done’, myself feeling some accomplishment
for him. But within 5 seconds, he took it apart, put it away and moved on to something else. 

At first, I was
a bit surprised. If it were me, I would have taken a moment to contemplate what
I’d done. 

A couple of weeks later, thinking back on this, I realized this was
the epitome of journey for journey’s sake. He did not do the puzzle with any
particular destination or goal in mind. Doing for doing, not for having done. He did it because he enjoyed the process, so
the result was completely irrelevant to him.

Could I relearn this? Bake a bread just for the sake of baking,
no matter how good or bad it tastes when done? (Probably the only way to make good bread, ironically.)

I suppose it is only human to be somewhat goal-oriented, but
society seems to put so much emphasis on goal, success, trophies, results. All
meaningless without a struggle. Without an interesting journey.

Pablo somehow knows this balance. He knows when he does
something for a specific goal, and he knows when he wants to do something for its very process. Wise little guy he
is. I learn from him every day.

I read this poem today. It hit me like an arrow in the
bull’s eye. An excerpt from “Spring” by Jim Harrison (whole poem here) (bold emphasis is mine):

Something new in the air today, perhaps the struggle of the bud to become a leaf.
Nearly two weeks late it invaded the air but then what is two weeks to life herself?
On a cool night there is a break from the struggle of becoming.
I suppose that’s why we sleep.
In a childhood story they spoke of the land of enchantment.
“We crawl to it, we short-lived mammals, not realizing that we are already there.” […]
Of late I see waking as another chance at spring.

Maybe that’s why spring feels so kindred to me this year. “The struggle of becoming”. The beauty and truth of that phrase moves me. Because I am learning what my 2 year old already knows: the struggle of becoming is what makes life worth living.





In celebration of spring, we had a backyard picnic for our goûter yesterday. Sit in the grass, smell the jasmine, have some tea and homemade fruit compotes. 












Finally sharing these terribly simple compote recipes, as some of you requested. 


Wishing you and yours a lovely Easter and spring season.

 

 

 

Fruit compotes



Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes


Age for babies: 4-6 months (individual fruit compotes first)


Note: I decided to share three flavors here: apple-mint, pear-blueberry, apple-mixed berries, all fruits that are available and seasonal at the moment. Many variations will soon be possible with summer stone fruits (I had blogged about a raw peach compote last summer). Obviously, this is a very flexible recipe, you can have more or less fruit, mix and match pretty much any fruit of your liking, add cinnamon, honey, lemon zest, thyme, basil, whatever you like. I use a blender as mine does a smoother puree than my food processor.


For apple-mint & apple-berries(Yields about 1 cup each)


3 apples peeled, cut up
5 sprigs of mint, leaves only
1 cup frozen mixed berries


Steam the apples and mint leaves (mint on one side only) for about 20 minutes, until apple is tender.
Steam (separately) the frozen berries for about 7 minutes. 


Puree half the apples + mint in a blender with 1/4 cup of cooking juices (add a couple of tbsp if compote is too thick).


Puree the other half of the apples + berries with 3-4 tbsp of cooking juices (adjust to obtain desired consistency).


Let cool, and eat at room temperature or chilled.


For pear-blueberry:
(Yields about 1 1/2 cup)


2 medium pears, peeled, cut up
1 cup of fresh blueberries


Steam the pears and blueberries for about 10-12 minutes, until pear is tender.
Puree in a blender with 2-3 tbsp of cooking juices (adjust to obtain desired consistency)


Let cool, and eat at room temperature or chilled.


I usually keep enough for the next day, and freeze the rest for later use. (They can be thawed in water bath or microwave).

Spring lamb meatballs recipe

I often feel like I’m galloping through life at full speed, and pulling on the reins as hard as I can, to slow down, to really feel my life, to see it and enjoy it in a palpable way. But time has that sand-going-through-your-fingers quality, and for some reason, that sensation seems exacerbated when you have children. How can Pablo be almost 2 already?

So I’m searching. I’m searching for the secret to living life in the slow lane. 

My jasmine brought this to mind. We are blessed with a large wall of jasmine, and its scent pervades our backyard for a couple of months a year. I mentioned it a couple of times recently… I can see it through my window from my desk, where I spend a lot of time. I look at it, like an anchor. I watched it dormant this winter. I smiled when I noticed the pink buds multiplying a few weeks ago. Then the first couple of white flowers came out last week. And today, it’s in full bloom. I just wish it would stop there, stay there.

At night, I stick my nose out my window just to smell it a few more seconds. I just want to be with it.

I know the art of slow living has to do with being in the moment, but ironically, the times we are in the moment, are the ones that go by the fastest. And yet that are the most worthwhile. So you see my conundrum.

Or is it about being content? When we are content, life slows down a bit. When we remember it’s not going to last and start wanting more, it accelerates again. Life has sometimes felt jerky that way.

So between deadlines and to-do lists, I struggle to find ways to take my time. To reclaim it. It’s hard. This blog has been a great opportunity to do that: in order to write the posts I want to write, I have to take my time, slow down. To cook the recipes, to photograph them, to write my thoughts here.

And I suppose that, as always, it’s the little things that help the most. Looking for slower moments every day. Opportunities for slowness. Moments of awareness, of enjoyment, or even of sadness or worry. Just being with it. Moments when we do not think of what comes next, but focus on the here and now. Like dancing with Pablo. Gardening (or trying to…). Cooking. And meals.

Meals are such moments for us. That’s why I cherish them so much. Far from wanting to get dinner over with, we consciously try to slow it down, trying to be mindful while we eat (I remind Pablo – and myself – to eat slowly several times a meal. It’s not about what we’re eating next, but about what we’re eating now.)

And these things have helped me pull on the reins of time a bit. But it does fly…

I think of my jasmine again. In January, I trusted the rain was feeding its roots to make it grow and bloom when it would be ready (with a hint of impatience). In March, I am enjoying it in all its glory, I take seconds every day to smell it and marvel at it (with a hint of helplessness, at how fast it will fade away). In August, I will accept it has gone through its cycle, and will be grateful for the joy it gave me (with a hint of sadness).

Trust that things will happen as they need to, enjoy the worthwhile moments as best you can, accept the fluctuating and cyclical nature of life.  In short, go with the flow. All a work in (slow) progress here.

In the meantime, we shall have our meal outside tonight. Just for the smell of jasmine in the spring.

I have been enjoying thoroughly cooking from Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga (I talked about her inspiring blog when I shared her leek flan recipe a while ago). This lamb meatballs recipe has become one of our family favorites, and is especially appropriate with the spring season (I usually cook leg of lamb for Easter).  We love lamb meat and have it on a regular basis (I started giving it to Pablo around 7 months). It is so flavorful, and this easy preparation really brings out the best of its flavor.

Herbed lamb meatballs in coconut milk, with quinoa

Very lightly adapted from Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 mn
Cook time: 20 mn

Age for babies: I would offer this between 10-12 mo because of the egg.

1 lb ground lamb
2 slices of bread, crust removed, crumbled (I used a ancient grain spelt bread)
1 clove of garlic
1 egg
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
10 sprigs fresh mint
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup sheep’s milk yogurt (or whole milk cow if you can’t find sheep)
Juice of 1/2 lemon


For the quinoa:
1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
Leftover coconut milk (*I usually use cans of coconut milk, and using 1 1/2 cup above, there’s a bit leftover, which I add in to cook the quinoa)

Peel the garlic, pick the leaves of the mint and oregano off the stems. Place the garlic clove, oregano, mint and parsley in a small food processor to mince them very finely. (Alternatively, you can mince everything by hand).

Beat the egg lightly with a fork.

In a medium bowl, combine lamb, crumbled bread, minced garlic & herbs, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, paprika and black pepper.

With your hands, mix just enough to combine. Form the meatballs and set aside on a plate.

In a large shallow pan, bring the coconut milk and 1/2 tsp of salt to a low simmer. Add the meatballs (they will not be submerged in the liquid). Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Make the quinoa: in a fine strainer, rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear, drain well. Combine the quinoa and broth (and little bit of coconut milk if using) in a medium pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until translucent and you can see the germ spiraling out of the grains, about 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the pan. Stir the yogurt and lemon into the sauce.

Serve the quinoa in bowls. Add the meatballs. Drizzle some of the coconut/yogurt sauce on top.