Well, hello dear blog. Did you think I’d forgotten all about you? Ok, so I kinda did. But in my defense, the past few months have been anything but ordinary.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that our big inter-continental relocation was only four months ago. And other times, our Qatari life seems like the distant past. Time and perceptions are funny like that. The process of repatriating has not been without challenge, but we are so grateful to be here, now.
Here is a beautiful, vibrant city in western Ontario, Canada and we are living near its centre, its heart. We eavesdrop on its music festivals, spy on its parades and observe its inhabitants from our fabulous 11th floor perch. And now, fall is definitely upon us, with temperatures staying in the single digits for the most part, and many trees having already shed their leaves. We’ve experienced wistfully falling snowflakes at least three times so far. Little handsome, who was born in the Middle East and knows nothing of winter, still considers wearing boots and mittens an exciting novelty.
The life I’m living right now is so different from the one I left in Qatar. I’ve gone from full-time teacher to full-time mom, and it has been a welcome change. Again, it’s not without its challenges, but spending my days with my amazing 3-year-old is a real gift. One of my new pastimes is reserving easy reader books via the public library’s app for Big Handsome to bring home when he returns from “work.” (Did I mention he has taken up office space at the library, a stone’s throw from our apartment?) We also make time for the occasional outing to the local Early Years Centre where Little Handsome enjoys playing basketball in a net a little higher than the laundry basket we use at home, or a new friend’s house to play with toys that are a little different from the ones we play with at home. But mostly we spend our days together, in our fabulous apartment, playing Uno or Dominoes, making “cookies” (various pantry ingredients combined in the food processor and eaten with a spoon), watching Super Why? or building towers out of Mega Blocks. Sometimes we break out the homemade play dough.
All this time at home has been good for my soul. I’m a bit of a hermit by nature, and I love hunkering down with a blanket and a hot drink on a blustery day. I also really love soup – and making it has been a passion of mine for years. But this little hobby has taken on a life of its own this fall. On any given day there are usually at least two types of soup in the fridge, plus another in the works. The answer to “what’s for lunch?” varies from day to day only in the adjectives that precede “soup”: potato bacon, roasted vegetable, Morrocan chicken, coconut carrot, red lentil, butternut apple….
Soup is the perfect meal for this time of the year: warming, nourishing, satisfying. And to top it all off, it’s relatively inexpensive! What’s not to love? Plus it makes the house feel cozy and smell great.
The soup I made tonight has become a fall staple already. It uses pumpkin puree (made by simply roasting and blending one of those orange Halloween pumpkins) as a thickener, as well as a vitamin boost. The lentils are soaked and sprouted for additional digestibility. A single farmer’s sausage provides enough meat to satisfy the carnivore, while also providing a good base of flavour for the broth. And kale is thrown in for good measure, to bump up the nutrient content of the dish. Of course, all these ingredients are supported by a base of bone broth, which is the most nourishing food I can think to feed my family.
Before I share the recipe, here’s a little story that makes me smile. We had this soup for lunch earlier this month on the same day that Big Handsome attended a blood donor clinic. When the nurse commented on his surprisingly healthy iron level, he responded, “Well, I had kale for lunch.” And to think that neither of us knew what kale was a couple of years ago, and now Big Handsome (0f all people) is using it nonchalantly in conversations with strangers. Oh, and that reminds me of one more great thing about being here, now: kale is easy to come by. It’s the small pleasures…
Sausage Lentil Soup with Pumpkin and Kale
1 Tbsp fat (olive oil, butter, etc.)
1 sausage, diced (sweet, mild or spicy)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use a fine grater)
1 cup pumpkin puree (from a can or a pumpkin)
2 cups broth (beef, chicken, veggie…whatever)
1/2 cup green lentils, soaked (and sprouted if you wish)
1 handful kale, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Cook sausage in oil until no longer pink. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and saute until onion is translucent. Add pumpkin, broth and lentils and simmer until lentils are cooked. Add kale and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until kale is wilted. Enjoy!