Just before Christmas, we had an unexpected event in the QV household: a 3-day power outage. With no warning from the weatherman, a powerful wind storm blew through the area on the night of December 20th, gusting up to 60mph in some places. At 5:30 on the morning of the 21st, the power went out. And stayed out. And stayed out some more. Every time we checked the estimated restoration time, it had been pushed down. Our generator kept the heat and water going as needed, but the stove was out of commission for three full nights.
I’ll confess that not being able to cook normally makes me nervous. Food, cooking and eating are such a big part of my everyday routine that I start to feel like I’m floating without an anchor, or navigating without a plan. Maybe that’s extreme, but I am a foodie! Fortunately, my dad recently invested in a two-burner Coleman stove.* With that on hand, I was able to plan full, hot dinners each night and cook without having to worry.
Having only two burners to work with, one-pot meals became the obvious choice. I happened to have Nava Atlas’ Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons out of the library, and it had already sprung a few bookmarks from my perusal of it before the power went out. One soup recipe that stood out to me was the Curried Lentil, Potato and Cauliflower Soup. It features two of my favorite things to enjoy with curry spices: cauliflower florets and chunks of potatoes.
But, of course, that’s not all. Celery, diced tomatoes, kale and cilantro also make an appearance along with hearty lentils! The original recipe called for spinach which, as usual, I swapped out for kale. It doesn’t get as silky as spinach does when it cooks down, but the flavor is close enough that the substitution doesn’t tend to alter a recipe very much. Plus, I just plain love kale. It’s a magical veggie.
With all the great stuff it has in it, this is the perfect soup for a dreary, cold or otherwise blah day, such as when your power has been out for over forty-eight hours with no signs of returning any time soon. It was really, really easy to make on the cookstove, so I’d imagine it would be even easier with electricity, given that you don’t have to watch the burners quite as carefully. To make it a meal, I served it with slices of sprouted bread and a handful of mixed greens. Biscuits or an Indian flatbread would make good companions as well. I’d like to try it again with some homemade roti and maybe a bit of chutney.
I loved this soup so much that it sold me on the entire book and I bought it for my Nook a couple of days later. Since then, it hasn’t disappointed (as you’ll see in future posts)! The only thing I didn’t like was the amount of lemon juice that got mixed in along with the curry spices. I guess that’s a potential problem when a recipe calls for the juice of one lemon or half a lemon: the lemon you have on hand probably isn’t the same size as the one the recipe was tested with. However, it wasn’t so overwhelming that I couldn’t enjoy the final product. Sprinkled with a little cayenne, it’s a warming, comforting bowl of curry-flavored goodness that also makes terrific leftovers!
What do you eat when the power’s out? Do you have a way to cook, or do you order out?
*Disclaimer: Using propane-powered camp stoves indoors is dangerous. I don’t recommend doing it unless you literally have no other choice–and then make sure to crack a window to let the fumes out.