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Tonight is a Good Night for Soup!

September 7, 2011 by faith

My husband, Micah, and I returned this afternoon after being away a couple days, and I have to admit that one of the first things that I thought about on our return was what in the world we were going to have for dinner.  I knew we’d be running low on supplies when we got back and our options would be limited. Opening the fridge, I saw that our CSA box had arrived with an assortment of fruits and veggies but besides that, we had next to nothing in the house.  On top of this, it’s been raining for about three days straight and fall seems to be suddenly upon us with cooler temperatures.   So the inspired choice for when it’s wet, chilly and all you have is random vegetables: soup!

I ended up making a slightly modified version of “Savory Grain and Bean Pot” from the awesome Mennonite cookbook More with Less.  The idea of More with Less is to make great food, but also walk more gently on the earth and share more with our fellow human beings through the choices we make in what we eat.  So, the recipes tend to deemphasize meat, cost less and have fewer calories and sugar.  More with Less first came out in 1976, but it seems even more relevant today as there are now even more of us on the planet to feed and as we see more and more clearly the affects our over-consumption has on our earth.

I also love that this cookbook and I have a similar food philosophy.  In the introduction Mary Beth Lind, a dietitian, explains that “When we make food an integral part of our lives and our homes, it becomes part of our theology.”  She talks about growing food and cooking slowly and carefully, with thought about our impact on nature and the sacred space created when people share a meal together, as being a way for us to be “co-creators with God and stewards of God’s garden.”  No longer are we an American consumer; we are suddenly transformed into nurturers.

What a refreshing way to look at food!  It no longer is eating just about shoving the right nutrients into our bodies, but also about our connection to God, the earth and each other.  In a dietary world which leans towards reduction of food into just its component parts of proteins, fats and sugars, we may instead see food in the grand picture of God’s providing hand.

Our soup meal was very typical of the kind of meal that More with Less urges us, as Christians on a needy planet, to eat.  Not only did we use little meat and processed food, but we also ate bread that was a gift from a friend, chicken broth that was made at home and we sat there for a good while after we were done talking with each other.  We filled our need for food, but we also filled our deeper need for connectedness through conversations, this night about politics (we do live in DC after all) and our trip.

I am in no way promising that this soup will magically transform your time with whomever you eat this with into some utopian dream.  Just that eating together- thanking our Creator and welcoming what he has provided for us- is a moment of grace in a world full of fast food and too little conversation.

Bread and Soup

Faith’s Slightly Modified Savory Grain and Bean Pot

-Heat in large kettle 2 tbsps. olive oil.

-Add and sauté: 1 chopped onion and several cups chopped veggies of various sorts (I ended up with wax beans and half a green pepper from last week’s CSA box, mushrooms left over from Friday night’s pizza, broccoli from this week’s CSA box, one carrot and one stick of celery of undetermined age from the bottom of the fridge.)

-Add: one can of Navy beans; a couple chopped tomatoes; 2-3 peppercorns (I don’t know why, but I just did what the book told me to); pinch cayenne; ¼ tsp. each fresh basil, tarragon, fresh oregano, and celery seed; pinch each thyme, rosemary and sage; 2 tbsps. Braggs liquid aminos; ½ cup brown rice; 1/3 cup bulgar; 8 cups chicken broth.

-Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours until grains are tender.


  1. yummy! I would try using vegetable broth, or maybe even just water! You could also up the Bragg’s to four tablespoons (quarter cup) or use tamari or shoyu in place of Bragg’s for a richer umami flavor! Congrats on your new blog!

    • faith says:

      Thanks, Adrienne! The original recipe called for vegetable broth and that’s what I usually would have used, but I was looking for something a little more savory and I also had several cups of chicken broth sitting in my freezer made from a CSA chicken we ate a couple weeks ago. I hadn’t even thought of using tamari or shoyu. That’s a great idea!

  2. Shane Moad says:

    Great new blog Faith. I and my wife have used that book for years and find it both good for new cooking ideas and also encouraging in it’s relationship both to the Creator and His creation.
    At home we have two large vegetable gardens, one is 11 meters by 3.5 meters and the other is 7 meters by 6 meters……….not quite self serfishant but working closer to it.

    • faith says:

      Shane, I wish we had space for a garden, and maybe that I could make a little more time for gardening! I tried to do some tomatoes, peppers and herbs in pots this year. Some did alright, and others just couldn’t make it. But I will try again next year!

      • Shane Moad says:

        I hope some day you and Micah will have some area for a good vegetable garden but until then it is still possible to grow a little in a small area. Even if you get some black plastic pots about two foot round and plant some spinach in one, a capsicum or two in another and of course a tomato in another. You could even get some broad beans and peas growing in some pots and just stake them up…………….even some beats in a couple of pots. I better stop or you will have to get an acre of land! However the things I have mentioned would probably take about six to seven pots, if you have room for it, if not just pick out a few of the things you would like to grow and go with that. All the best with it Faith, within the next month I will be putting in our tomatoes, nothing like home grown tomatoes. Stay well and God Bless.

  3. Julia Pantoga Soriano says:

    Hi Faith. I have the same question about peppercorns (as well as bay leaves). I added peppercorns to a recipe with mostly lentils and brown rice and I left some peppercorns in by mistake (the look a lot like firm lentils), which meant that some bites had an extra surprise! Next time I’m going to try cutting all the whole spices in a little cheese cloth pouch tied with string. The French do that, but I can’t remember offhand what they call it.

    When I learned to cook (back in the stone age), I was married to a vegetarian, so I have some great vegetarian cookbook. You might find Nicki and David Goldbecks, American Whole Foods Cuisine helpful. Also, Viana La Place wrote a cookbook called Unplugged, which I found for a dollar. When I first got it, I read it cover to cover, as the premise of the book is usine all parts of plants and cooking without using electronic tools.

    I wish my current husband were as ‘flexible’ about food as you and Micah. He suscribes to the crazy American notions that you “need” to have something different meal and meat in every meal; also that leftovers are less desirable than other food. But I’ve convinced him to make leftover rice into refried and dirty rice, so we’re making progress. Oh well, he’s grest about other things — nobody’s perfect.

    What I love is observing how meaningful food is in the Bible. One of my favorite examples is that when the diciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognise him until they sat down to eat with him. Or how about Jesus cooking breakfast for the disiples in John 21?

    Great job on the blog!

  4. Julia Pantoga Soriano says:

    P. S. Sorry I didn’t proofread my reply… It’s fill of typos that I wish I could correct.

  5. Julia Pantoga Soriano says:

    P.P.S. Even that last note had a typo! I’m getting really bad!

  6. Annie says:

    Dad and I looked for soup cookbooks for him last night at the bookstore. Do you know of any for picky people who know nothing of cooking, have little time to spend cooking and can’t handle anything more complicated than cutting up four ingredients and heating them up? Because right now I’m thinking he should just stick with Campbell’s.

    • faith says:

      The More With Less Cook Book is pretty easy as far as soups go. Few ingredients and only take an hour or so. The other one I get a lot of soup recipes out of is Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, NY. Their soups are easy and fast (30 min or less). Even the weird ones- like cabbage and bread soup- came out surprisingly good. Mostly though, the recipes are hearty and “classic.”

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