The aromatic smell of a ginger-lime broth with pan-seared halibut and the sounds of a ping-pong ball being energetically bounced off a table have now quietened. I’m sitting in a silent home, with only the sound of Harvey snoring to awaken me from this third-trimester stupor. My brother has just left after a long stay, and I’m already missing his cheery smile and sarcastic quips, and of course all the amazing food he made while he was here. In the last 5 weeks, I have not only been pampered by my husband, but also by my brother who has been staying with us since Christmas. (I received a note one day from my brother that read “Do less chores, do more yoga, drink more tea, take more naps, read a book, love you”). The two of them together have barely let me do anything since I’ve become increasingly tired and uncomfortable. Although, I can’t complain too much; this pregnancy has been quite easy so far. My biggest obstacle is accepting help and listening to what my body needs, which lately has been rest. So, with gentle and loving nudges from my brother and husband, I have learned a new word: surrender. “Surrender”: to relinquish control (haha! SO not easy for me!). In the past couple of weeks I have learned to surrender to this pregnancy journey and be more accepting of what it requires, allowing others to help in ways I might not always like (I’m a bit of a stubborn, independent gal). For my brother, this directly translates to food (we’re siblings, what do you expect?!). Lucky for me, he loves food just as much as I do and was happy to spend most days in the kitchen helping out.
There can be no truer meaning to “nourishing” than a meal that is made with love by someone else. While my brother was here, he not only helped with chores and made 5-star dinners and breakfasts for me, but lovingly stocked my freezer with meals to nourish my post-baby self. One of my requests was a lentil soup which drew us both to Ottolenghi’s book “Plenty More”. There are a million lentil soup recipes out there, but this one really stood out, not only for its simplicity, but its interesting additions such as the aromatic chili oil and vibrant sliced snap peas. I requested the addition of cauliflower for some extra veggie-lovin, and my brother had the genius idea to roast it first to really deepen the flavour. What we have here is a dynamite combination of textures, spices, protein, veggies, and love: a nourishing food at its core.
Each time I take one of these meals out of the freezer, I’ll think of my brother and the time and care he put into each one of these dishes. Thank you, brother, for your time, love, patience and support over the past 5 weeks. We miss you already!
- 1 head of cauliflower*
- 3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- salt and pepper
- 4 oz sugar snap peas
- 3 Tablespoons coconut oil or sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 lemongrass stalks, gently smashed with a rolling pin
- 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, or 12 dried, or fresh lime juice to you taste
- 1 1/4 cups red lentils
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped, for garnish
- CHILE INFUSED OIL (optional)**
- 3/4 cup sunflower oil
- 2 shallots, coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger
- 1/2 red chile, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 star anise pod
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- grated zest of 1/2 small lemon
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Chop the cauliflower into bite-size pieces and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 F for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your cauliflower chunks) or until they are soft.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil in a small saucepan. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger, chile, star anise, and curry powder; fry over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the shallot is soft. Add the tomato paste and cook gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining oil and lemon zest and simmer very gently for 30 minutes. Leave to cool and then strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Set aside.
- Bring a small pan of water to a boil and throw in the sugar snap peas. Cook for 90 seconds, drink, refresh under cold water, and set aside to dry. Once cool, cut them ion the diagonal into slices.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot and add the onion. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the onion is completely soft and sweet. Stir in the red curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, red lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the lentils are completely soft.
- Remove the soup from the heat and take out and discard the lemongrass and lime leaves. Use a blender or hand immersion blender to process the soup until it is completely smooth. Add the cauliflower, coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir. Return the soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Once heated through, serve immediately and garnish with the snap peas and cilantro. Finish with a drizzle of the chile oil.
- *The chile oil is a bit time consuming but adds such a nice touch! If you end up making it, I suggest roasting a bit of the cauliflower with the chile oil to really amp up the flavour!
- **This will make more than you need for the soup, however, it will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a month. Use on any roasted vegetables, fish, soups, grilled dishes, salads, etc.
A special thanks to my amazingly talented friend Kelli Ireland of LookTwice Photography for taking some maternity photos of me this week and making this pregger feel a bit more pampered! I am so lucky to have these memories documented in such a beautiful way! 35 weeks and counting!!!!