But our favorite thing about eating is not the tasty food, it is the people we eat with. Breaking bread together is the ultimate expression of love and friendship.
We all have warm-and-fuzzy memories triggered by meals once shared with loved ones. I will never reach into a cookie jar without thinking of my grandma or drink a chocolate shake without thinking of my grandpa. And nothing defines warm-and-fuzzy better than my mom’s homemade lasagna.
These are all examples where someone other than me plays the role of “cook”, yet the connecting power of food reaches far beyond our childhood memories of being cooked for. As Kayli so eloquently expressed in her Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup post, when we step into the role of “cook” we open the door to a whole new dimension of connection.
Although cooking for others is a paramount expression of love, I’d like to think there’s yet another step beyond it- another step that is the ultimate act of love and care. What is this all-mighty act? Growing food for others. This is the step I have yet to master, but I have an excellent mentor to learn from- my dad. Gardening is a hobby he’s just recently embraced. (And by “embraced” I mean that he now has like 2000 square feet of garden space!)
Pops teaches me something new every time I see him, but here are a few things I’ve learned in Phil’s Garden:
- You are never too old, too busy, too fill-in-the-blank to find joy in something new. He started with a tiny plot on the side of the house three years ago. Now he grows so much produce he could probably open a stand at the farmer’s market. Come July, chopping, cooking and processing his bounty becomes my mom’s full time job!
- Put love and passion into everything you do. Much like life, gardening tests your patience and endurance. Even when that silly wabbit eats your kale or the neighbor steals your watermelon or the neighbor’s dog soils your soil, it’s still your job to continue to put love into the food you grow. Make the mistake of taking it too seriously and getting upset when things don’t go as planned, and you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. You need the right mindset, and Pops has it. Put your heart and soul into something and you’ll be rewarded. His face lights up like a Christmas tree every time he gets to gift something from his garden.
You can literally taste the love in everything he grows, whether it’s one of his prized watermelons he delivers to Kayli or his sweet little tomatoes that we eat right off the vine. In late summer Dad hits the trifecta – he harvests his veggies, cooks them into an omelet breakfast, and serves it up to the ones he loves.
Each year it seems that his jalapeño crop multiplies. Could it be because he knows the ones he loves (me and Kayli) love spicy food? In preparation for the haul of hot peppers he’ll gift us this summer, Kayli created this Vegan Creamy Jalapeño Soup.
- 6 jalapeño peppers
- 4 medium russet potatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Slice jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise and carefully remove seeds and white inner membranes. Rinse with water to wash away any remaining seeds (how thoroughly you de-seed and rinse will determine hot spicy the soup is. Feel free to leave some seeds in if you like it spicy. See notes.) Dice the rinsed jalapenos.
- Roughly dice potatoes and onion. (No need to peel potatoes).
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add diced jalapenos, potatoes and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and golden.
- While vegetables are sauteeing. Prepare the Cheese Sauce. Combine all ingredients plus 1 cup of water into a blender. Blend until sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Add vegetable broth and Cheese Sauce to the soup pot with the diced vegetables. Bring soup to a boil and then lower heat and simmer until potatoes are soft (about 15-20 minutes). Add more water as needed to prevent soup from becoming too thick.
- Use an immersion blender to puree soup or transfer some or all of the soup to a blender to puree. (If you prefer a chunky soup with varied texture, only puree part of the soup).