38th week musings + creamy rice and broccoli soup

today was my final day managing this beautiful yoga studio in leslieville. as i have grown into my role as a yoga teacher over the past year, this studio has grown as well, into a community fixture, an ethereal and cozy space for mamas to gather, move, and grow themselves and their littles emotionally and physically through yoga.

as my streetcar commute glided past unseasonally snowy parks and sidewalks, i watched families play and dogs on their morning walks, and thought about all the times over past year that i had taken this streetcar, arriving and opening the doors to the dark and empty studio, turning on lights and lighting candles to make it glow. i thought about how much i was going to miss spending (a lot of) my time in that space that had become as comfortable as a second home. i thought about the days and weeks ahead, and the change that was in store for me. as i gazed out of those windows, it started to dawn on me how special and unique this time in my life was, as i let go of something so dear to my heart, and prepared to welcome a living being that is sure to consume my whole heart fully and completely.

this is a time of such rapid change and transition, and often i don't really feel like i am able to take adequate time to process everything. my heart feels like my belly, stretching and growing almost faster than my skin can accommodate it, so that it feels taut and pulled to its limit. i often feel as though the tight skin on my belly could burst open, as i often feel as though my heart could burst under the pressure of so much emotion and such quickly expanding perspective. there are days where the tears come, overwhelming and necessary. usually i try to stop them just as quickly because without knowing their source or reason i am not comfortable loosing them upon the world. but my body yearns for healing, of parts both known and unknown to my conscious mind - perhaps an emotional cleaning house to go along with the physical nesting phase that i am expecting in these last weeks of pregnancy. i know that i am working through and releasing some deep-seated issues that have been with me for a long time. i have begun seeing a gentle chiropractor, and she is helping re-route the neural pathways in my body for the same reasons.

with so much questioning and uncertainty going on internally (and with toronto's winter that never ends), it's no wonder that i've been craving warm comfort foods lately, to comfort my physical body and my soul. sweet potatoes have been at the top of my list, contrasted with creamy textures that i can actually feel on my tongue when i'm at the height of a craving. (side note: if you have never been pregnant, i don't know how i can describe pregnancy cravings to you. they are not normal cravings - they are all-consuming, x-rated level fantasies about the exact taste, type, and texture of the food i am craving. they turn off all other areas of my brain, and until i get the food that's in my head i am useless to do anything else. i'm basically a food zombie.)

luckily at christmastime i found a soup to satisfy these cravings for sweet potatoes and creamy goodness that's been in my rotation frequently - heidi swanson's creamy wild rice soup from her amazing cookbook super natural cooking. the first time i made this soup, i made yummy noises with each bite until my bowl was empty (yummy noises that are usually reserved for perfectly salted and coconut-oiled popcorn). it has been made at least twice a month since then, with leftovers greedily relished the next day.

recently i was coming home on the streetcar and the soup popped into my getting-hungrier-by-the-minute pregnant mind. i wanted that soup when i got home. i needed that soup. but not just that soup. i needed to add more. i began mentally adding to the soup the other items in my x-rated cravings that week: crisp greens & protein. a creamy wild rice soup with crispy sweet potato croutons would definitely be complimented by some fresh broccoli and tofu, i decided. and once i got home, unable to think about anything else, i set to work, and this is what i came up with:

creamy rice & broccoli soup
adapted from heidi swanson's super natural cooking

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp thai red curry paste
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 cup wild rice (i usually use a wild rice blend, which is more economical)
1 block of extra-firm tofu
1/2 head of (organic) broccoli
4 cups water
2 (organic) orange sweet potatoes
sea salt
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp natural cane sugar
1 tbsp tamari
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
generous squeeze of lime juice (i usually squeeze in about 1/2 a lime)
cilantro to garnish (if desired)

wrap block of tofu in paper towel or hand towel, place on a plate and stack another plate on top with a few heavy cookbooks on it to press the liquid out. once it's drained (give it a good 10-15 minutes at least), cut it into small cubes (about 1/2 an inch to one inch long)

melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in large soup pot. add curry paste, garlic, and onion. saute until onion is translucent and soft, ensuring curry paste is well distributed. meanwhile, cut up the broccoli into small florets & stems (discard the woody lower part of the broccoli stem).

stir in rice, tofu, broccoli, and water. bring to a simmer, then cook (covered) on low-medium heat until rice is soft (about 40 minutes).

while soup is simmering, prepare sweet potato croutons. wash your sweet potatoes well (i don't usually peel them, but you can if you like), and chop into tiny cubes (about 1/4 inch). melt the other tbsp coconut oil in a skillet on medium, and add the cubed potatoes and a generous pinch of salt. toss to coat in oil, then continue to toss every couple of minutes. the sweet potatoes will slowly get crispy on all sides. if the pan gets too dry, add more oil. the sweet potatoes are done when they are crunchy and dark gold on the outside, soft on the inside. set these aside on a paper towel.

once the rice in the soup is tender, stir in the turmeric, sugar, tamari, coconut milk, and extra water if needed (add a little at a time to get the thickness of soup that you want). add about 1 tsp of salt and return soup to a simmer for 5 minutes to meld the flavours. taste for seasoning and add more salt (and pepper) if necessary. remove from heat and finish with lime juice.

serve into bowls, making sure you get lots of rice, broccoli, and tofu in each scoop. sprinkle sweet potato croutons over top, and finish with a garnish of cilantro if you like. 

serves 4 to 6.

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