Spring has sprung! It’s been gloriously sunny and about 75 degrees here for the past few days, allowing us to celebrate the first day of spring by spending all our time outside! I was thinking about how we humans have our own circadian rhythms and noticing that the cozy down energy I feel during the post-holiday rush is now gone, replaced by an almost anxiety to get my hands in the dirt outside. The cathartic feeling I get wielding the rake gleefully on leaves and dead plant matter blanketing our garden beds is so fitting now when it would have felt incongruous just 2 months ago.
I also find that I’m looking for different food these days. And while I’m putting a serious dent in the box of dates I brought home from my food coop pickup (I can’t resist them dipped in almond butter!) most of the time I’m looking for something light and fresh. So with that in mind:
One of my all-time favorite raw recipes is based on the lemon fennel soup in Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes. Simple ingredients, no fancy equipment required, and ingredients I adore in all one place. This is a cold or room temperature soup, so it’s great for the summer, and yet with my modifications (the addition of oodles of garlic and a pinch of cayenne) it’s incredibly warming. I could gobble this up every day, and often do when I’m feeling sickness lurking around the corner.
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 bulb fennel, sliced
- scallions, chopped
Whisk together lemon juice, water, olive oil and salt. When ready to serve, pour into bowls and garnish with chopped fennel and scallions.
For me, this is not lemony enough, and has waaaay too much olive oil. I put the water, more lemon juice (at least double — the 8 lemons pictured was what I started with for a class of 20 people — I usually use around 4-5 to make dinner for my family of 4), olive oil (2-3 Tbs or so), and salt into a blender with lots of garlic (4+ cloves) and a dollop of honey. I blend this to emulsify (any old blender will do for this, and I used to make it in my food processor too, tho the max liquid issue caused some trouble once I realized how yummy this was), and once it’s a lovely creamy opaque liquid, I pour into a bowl. I like to add chopped greens (usually kale, this time spinach) as well as sliced red onion and fennel before serving. I also add minced garlic to the bowl with the greens, onion and fennel — can you tell I loves me some garlic? If there are leftovers (infrequently) the greens wilt even more and the flavors meld nicely to make a subtler, less fiery soup. I also add cayenne if I”m feeling the need for some extra heat, but I often am adding enough raw garlic that sometimes that warms it up enough for me. Oh, and once we start having fresh herbs outside again, I must say that I love this soup with some basil chiffonade. Parsley, dill, cilantro, thyme, many herbs would work. In fact, I’m waiting for my mint to rear it’s head in the garden so I can try it with that.
Between the greens, garlic, onion and lemon, this soup packs a powerful immune-boosting punch loaded with vitamins and minerals. We like to eat it even when we’re not feeling wretched, and the kids cheer for this one. We like to bring this with the dolmas and a green salad for a cool summer picnic — easy to prepare ahead, and light for a hot day. Can’t wait for more hot days like the 75 degree March days we’ve been having this week! Happy Spring!
What’s your favorite light meal recipe or idea?