Monday, October 13, 2014

I Yam Thankful for Soup

It is dinner time in Cairo - breakfast time in 9 hours behind Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When I sit down to relax with an end-of-the-day Stella beer, you people are all sipping on morning coffees

Today is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada, an Autumn holiday that I actually don't really honestly remember the logistics of -beyond Turkey, Cranberries and pumpkin pie. I do know that American Thanksgiving happens a full month later (and Canadians just have to be different, don't they?) around the time of that other quintessentially American holiday - The Superbowl. Everyone with any knowledge of American History knows that American Thanksgiving has received a fair bit of justly given bad press in the past 20 or so years, for being a neo-Colonial celebration of the near-genocide of the Native Peoples of the America's. What exactly the pilgrims were 'giving thanks' for might never be proven, but we can suppose with some certainty it wasn't the existence of pumpkin spice loaf and lattes.

The celebration of Thanksgiving then -either American or Canadian- might be a somewhat uncomfortable if not downright blasphemous holiday. Canadian Thanksgiving actually also falls on American Columbus Day, which is a celebration of the explorer's supposed "discovery" of the new world in 1492; Nevermind the fact that there were millions of people already inhabiting this place before his arrival (or the fact that explorers from Kingdoms in Muslim Spain, Mali, and The Ottomans are thought to have actually landed in America way before Columbus), any day off from work is a good day in my mind, and being thankful for things never hurt anybody.

As a kid Thanksgiving to me meant nothing more than celebrating the wonderful season of Autumn; the time of year for rusty coloured crunchy piles of leaves, for raking them together and stuffing them in giant orange bags; first morning frosts on the way to school, new corduroy pants and fuzzy sweaters; the smell of things baking as the sun begins to set earlier in the evening, and a pre-cursor to the most glorious of all the fall holidays - Halloween. Being a born and bred city girl, the term "harvest" never meant much beyond picking out a giant pumpkin from a Safeway Bin, but the romance of the season persists: I love Fall. This love grew out of my childhood all the way into Adulthood and eventually gave way to an appreciation of the death of summer, the season of renewal, solitude and cozying up for the ever-dreaded winter.

I am currently living in a country where neither Thanksgiving, nor Halloween are celebrated- beyond perhaps the occasional party frequented by ex-pats. I am in a city where the season of Autumn doesn't actually exist at all - Cairo has 2 seasons, Summer and Winter, and in the spirit of being thankful, I will state that neither requires the use of Ugg boots, longjohns, a snowsuit, or such homely concepts as a 'neckwarmer'.

Despite this, I do miss Canadian thanksgiving, my family and friends and all the roasted-root-vegetable glory of the season; In its honour tonight I cooked a big pot of vaguely Autumn appropriate harvest-y soup.

Here is the recipe:

Easy-peasy Autumn-esque Red Lentil and Yam soup for giving thanks

1 cup Red Lentils
Olive oil
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 potatoes
2 yams
2 carrots
1 cube stock mix
3 tablespoons tomato paste (or pasta sauce or whatever you happen to have handy)
cumin, curry powder, salt and pepper
half a yellow or red pepper chopped small

First, get a bowl to rinse and soak the lentils, changing the water a few times and throwing away any debris, stones, spiders, chunks of gold etc etc.  While the lentils take a bath, chop your veggies - onions and garlic small, potatos and other root vegetables a little bigger. (Think small cubes). Don't cut yourself , knives are sharp. Saute the onions and garlic in some olive oil until they begin to look soft and yummy and squishy, adding spices as desired. Try not to drop too many stray pieces of onion on the floor ; the ants love onions and who knows what carnage you might wake up to tomorrow morning. Drain the lentils from their murky tubwater, and add alongside the rest of the veggies and 3/4 of a litre of bottled water (or tap water if you live in a place where tap water doesn't taste like a stagnant pool after a kid pees in it). Add the tomato paste and stock cube and bring everything to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Put a lid on it (this is the part where you can crack a beer and dance around the kitchen singing "if you like it then you shoulda put a liddddd on it", like Beyonce - or maybe thats just me), and go on facebook for 15 minutes. Come back, stir your soup, then go back on Facebook for another 15 minutes (nothing has changed, but check it anyways). Go back to the kitchen and check the soup - Is it mushy? Taste it. Yummy? Good. Turn off heat and grab a lemon to squeeze in the bowl, and maybe some bread and butter too. Eat and congratulate yourself once again on a meal well done, and maybe give thanks that it was so delicious.

Get back to your roots
Simmer down


Basic soup parts

Tressa is most thankful for my soup

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