AlphaBetter Soup

I love raking leaves. Not because I like a nice neat lawn (in fact, I’d rather look at a leaf strewn lawn than at dead grass any day). Not even because it gets me outside with the kids on chilly days, although that is certainly a plus. I like raking leaves because they fill my compost bin to overflowing, creating a cozy home for the little microbes at the center of the pile to begin working their magic, transforming dead, discarded things into rich, black soil.

Having a compost pile has made it easier for me to throw things away. Easier, too, for me to talk to my small daughter about death and the passing of time. She cried and protested when her first jack o’lantern finally rotted. She didn’t want to throw it away. I explained to her how it would rot, fall apart, and eventually turn into dirt that we could use next year in our garden. Neither of us knew that in the process it would also spill seeds out through the slats in the bin, planting vines that would grow us a lovely orange pumpkin the following summer. We made it into pie and, although Xenia still remembers her sadness over that first jack o’lantern, she also remembers the sweetness of that pie.

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Nothing is ever really lost. The moments that pass, the friends we must leave, the dreams we let go, they are all caught up into God’s hands. Sweetness and sorrow alike enrich the soil of our hearts, and we never know what seeds are being planted.

Whether you are raking leaves or running errands, it is nice sometimes to have something a little cozier than pb&j waiting for you at lunch time. This simple recipe is easy enough for lunch or a simple dinner, and sure to please children and children-at-heart.

Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil                                                                                                                  1 onion, diced                                                                                                                   2-3 cloves garlic, minced                                                                                                     1/2 tsp salt                                                                                                                             1 can chopped tomatoes                                                                                                   1 bag mixed frozen vegetables (or about 3 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice, chopped into small pieces if fresh)                                                                                      1 TBSP good quality soy sauce                                                                                          2 TBSP nutritional yeast                                                                                                      1 tsp honey                                                                                                                       1/2 cup alphabet noodles (you can use any noodles or grain you want, but letters are more fun! These alphabet noodles are super cheap and available at Walmart near the Asian and Latin food section.)

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Method:

1. Chop your onion and mince your garlic.

2. Heat a 3 quart pot over medium heat. Add oil, swirling to coat the bottom. Add onions, garlic, and salt. Stir, cover the pot, and let cook, stirring once of twice, until soft and soupy. This should take about 10 minutes. If they start browning turn the heat down.

3. Add tomatoes to the pot, then add two can-fulls of water (around 4 cups).IMG_1963IMG_1964

4. Add vegetables. (I used a 1 lb. bag of frozen mixed veggies because that is what I had. I usually use a 10 oz. bag of mixed vegetables plus about 1 cup of frozen green beans. You can add whatever vegetables you prefer, or even some baby lima beans for extra protein.)

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5. Cover the pot, bring to a simmer, and allow to simmer for a few minutes, just until the vegetables are heated through.

6. While the soup is coming to a simmer, bring water to a boil in a separate pot and cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.

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7. When the soup is hot, stir in yeast, soy sauce, and honey. Taste to make sure you like it. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

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8. Put some noodles into your bowl and ladle soup over them. Store any leftover noodles separately from the soup. Otherwise they will soak up all the broth.

Dip your spoon in and see what you can spell!

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P.S. This soup has a clean, straightforward flavor that makes it a kid-pleaser in my house. For adults and adventurous kids, however, it is good with a few drops of hot sauce or a spoonful of vegan pesto.

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