As I mentioned in an earlier post, the New World Library sent me a free review copy of Ellen Kanner’s new book Feeding the Hungry Ghost. In all honesty, I probably would never have thought to pick this book up and read it. First, I’ve never read a memior-style cookbook before and I didn’t know if I would like it. Second, the title didn’t really peak my interest and I wasn’t sure from the descriptions that this was the kind of book I would like.
However, I had a free copy, so I might as well give it a chance, right? And boy I’m glad I did! This book is a gem. The recipes she gives us, 50 in total, are wonderful. Most of her recipes seem fairly easy to make, use ingredients you probably have on hand, and vary in flavor. The most likely thing you are going to need to buy is a spice here or there. While many vegan cookbooks I have read try and tell us how we can re-create our favorites in a vegan version, this cookbook just gives you straight up hearty vegetarian food. Plus, I found that I could make quite a few of these things in Senegal. I’m happy I have this book, because I think it will give me ideas on how to make less expensive day-to-day vegan food.
The stories she told to go along with the recipes were also fun and interesting. She does a good job of describing the recipes and fitting them into a story. In fact, if you like reading food blogs, you will probably enjoy reading her book. My only complaint with this book is that sometimes her arguments seemed poorly supported. For example, she would talk about how important it is to eat local and the following recipe involved mangoes. Later in the book it became clear that she lives in a part of Florida where mangoes grow. However, for most of us in the U.S. mangos are not local, and if you don’t point out that they are local where you live, it is confusing.
In conclusion, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and check it out. In the meantime, let me give you a little teaser: I already talked about her fabulous Veggie Bhaji in my Vegan Valentine’s Day Feast post.
So today I will give you a recipe for what she calls “well-being in a bowl”. My friends describe it as a vegetarian chicken noodle soup. It is comforting and healthy feeling: the perfect bring a sick friend soup soup.
Harira (printed with permission from New World Library)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
1 tsp turmeric
3 zucchini or yellow squash, or a mix of the two, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped (I left this out)
Pinch of saffron or ras el hanout (optional but very nice)
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes or 4 gorgeous ripe tomatoes, chopped
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 cups vegetable broth
1 small handful whole wheat vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into bite-size pieces (please substitute a gf version – I used rice pasta)
1 tablepsoon active dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm vegetable broth or water
Juice of 1 or 2 lemons
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Lemon wedges for serving (optional)
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and turmeric. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens and turns golden, a few minutes. Add the zucchini, red bell peppers, celery, and, if you’ve got it, the saffron or ras el hanout. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables become tender, 5 to 8 minutes more.
Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add the broken pasta, yeast mixture, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Continue cooking 3 to 5 minutes more, until the angel hair softens, stirring occasionally. Season with sea salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro.
Serve with extra lemon wedges, if desired.
note: New World Library sent me a free copy of this book but the views expressed here are my own. In no way was I pressured or encouraged to write a certain way.