What to do with all those tomatoes?

Glorious summer tomatoes offer many possibilities to be enjoyed throughout the year.  Consider freezing and roasting in addition to canning as ways to bring these treasures to your table in all seasons.


Freezing is a quick and easy option for tomatoes that can be added to soups, stews and sauces.  Just wash, dry and chop tomatoes into the size that you will use most, put into freezer bags or other freezer hardy containers.  They will be juicy when rethawing, but surprisingly delicious. (You can do the same for peppers, and they are just as wonderful!).


Roasting provides an entirely different taste experience.   This recipe for Roasted Tomatoes with Onion, Garlic and Saffron originally appeared in the Star a number of years ago.  You may roast these on an outdoor grill or in the oven.




12×17 inch baking tray (with lip)

A variety of tomatoes (6-8 depending on size), including cherry tomatoes, sliced approximately 1/4-1/3 inch thick, cherry tomatoes in half

1-2 large onions, sliced thinly

1 large clove garlic, peeled and if large, cut in half

1/4-1/3 cup of good quality olive oil

Salt and pepper

Generous pinch of saffron (if you don’t like saffron, other herbs or spices are also fine)


Slice enough tomatoes so that they cover the bottom of the baking tray.  Add a layer of sliced onions with the garlic cloves.  Generously salt and pepper.  Pour olive oil over it all and mix with a wide spatula.  Ensure everything is completely coated with olive oil and some of the oil is pooling slightly on the bottom of the tray. Amounts of each can be adjusted to your personal preferences and what you have on hand.

Roast in a preheated grill turned to low or oven at 350 F, for about ½ hour (time is approximate).  Check 2-3 times to stir and ensure it is not burning at the edges.  It will go through a watery phase, but this will boil off.  You know the sauce is done when the garlic cloves are easily mashed, and the oil and juices have created a slightly thickened base with the cooked tomatoes and onions. 

Take out of grill or oven, stir saffron into sauce.  Let cool, then freeze.

This has become my ‘go to’ tomato sauce.  For a little extra interest, I add homemade pesto for an incredible taste experience.  Enjoy!


Submitted by Daria Love, Food Issues Committee

Pantry black bean soup

Maybe you’re grocery shopping less and you want to use what’s in your pantry. Maybe you just want something that’s warm, hearty, and comforting in a way only soup can be. This pantry-friendly recipe can accommodate whatever you have on hand, or don’t.

Most of the soup’s flavour comes from the black beans and the spices, so skip or substitute anything you’re missing, like broth, canned tomatoes, carrots and celery. You can even use onion powder and garlic powder if needed. This soup is a great way to use up leftover cooked or roasted veggies like sweet potato, cauliflower, zucchini, or squash; or fresh veggies that will soon be not-so-fresh, like carrots, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red or green peppers, or avocado. If you have a cup or 2 of assorted roasted vegetables, add them. Or if you have only one small carrot and two fresh tomatoes, the soup will still be delicious. Customize it as you wish – the beans can handle it!

Pantry Black Bean Soup

Makes 4 to 8 servings, depending on additions

Dietary restrictions: Vegan; gluten-free depending on toppings

Cooking time: 15 to 30 minutes active time (depending on vegetables to chop), 30 to 60 minutes further cooking time with stirring at the beginning

Difficulty level: Easy if you follow the basic recipe or cook regularly, intermediate if you’re making substitutions


  • Small amount of oil or broth, for sautéing
  • 1 onion, diced (yellow, white, or red)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 to 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, or chipotle spice powder/canned chipotles to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable broth or water (more or less depending on veggies used – start with less and add more if it is too thick after the blending step)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (canned or from dry beans)
  • 1 small or large can of tomatoes, diced or whole (for whole tomatoes, squish them a bit with your hand or a blend briefly with a stick blender before adding)
  • 1 red or green pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 potato or sweet potato, peeled and diced; or diced squash or zucchini (optional)
  • ½ cup canned or fresh corn (optional)


Heat a large pot over medium-high. Add oil or broth, garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent. (If you don’t have fresh onions, add fresh garlic to the carrots and celery—sautéing fresh garlic on its own can easily burn it.)

Add carrots and celery (and any other raw non-root vegetables like red or green pepper, zucchini, or fresh corn) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add spices, and stir to heat through—direct heat brings out the flavor of spices.

Carefully add broth, black bean, canned tomatoes, and any optional longer-cooking raw veggies like potato or sweet potato. If you add longer-cooking veggies here, simmer 45 minutes then check if the veggies are done. Otherwise, add cooked veggies, like roasted cauliflower, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavours to combine.

Taste for flavour and check that all veggies are cooked through.

When soup is ready, carefully ladle a cup or two into a blender and blend briefly, and return to the soup pot. (Or use a hand blender and blend for one-second intervals, checking each time and stopping when your desired consistency is reached.) Use your judgement— if you like a chunky soup, you may want to blend only half a cup, or for a smoother soup, blend more.

If you have canned corn, add it after blending, cook a minute to heat through. Serve, with optional bread, pita or corn tortilla, or with optional toppings below.

Optional toppings – I recommend picking three

  • Squeeze of lime
  • Finely chopped onions, to taste, but be cautious with quantity if you’re social distancing with others!
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced fresh tomatoes
  • Roasted potato or sweet potato wedges
  • Canned corn or cooked fresh corn
  • Tortilla chips
  • Soft tortillas, rolled up and sliced into long thin strips

Make Your Life Slightly More Delicious with Homemade Salad Dressing

Modern life is about managing a delicate balance in so many things—cost and convenience, quality and time, effort and reward. But some things are just a clear win: that’s how I’ve come to feel about making my own salad dressing.

Recipe and image provided by Kyla Winchester

I know, you’re thinking, “Salad dressing? Salad dressing of all things?” Yes, salad dressing.
I eat salad greens a lot, as an easy side veg that doesn’t require a lot of prep. I used to dress the lettuce with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but I found it all sank to the bottom of the bowl. …Look, it’s not one of life’s great tragedies that the oil and vinegar inevitably slid off the lettuce, but it made eating my veggies a lot less fun.
Then I tried making my own dressing. I was inspired by aquafaba, a new thing that is actually a very overlooked old thing that is helping vegan food be better. Aquafaba means ‘bean water’, and that’s really all there is to it: it’s the thick, bean-y liquid that’s left after you’ve cooked beans. If you prefer canned beans, the liquid in the can is the same thing, and works just as well. (Usually aquafaba is used to describe the liquid from chickpeas since it’s pale-colored and neutral-tasting, but for many uses, any bean liquid will do.) You may be asking, how did aquafaba become a ‘thing’? A few years ago, some innovative chefs discovered that the water we usually discard after cooking our beans can behave in a similar way to egg whites. Ever since, people have used it for things like making meringues (even macarons!), replacing eggs in baking, and making mayonnaise. Which is where the salad dressing comes in.
Like in mayonnaise, a stable salad dressing requires emulsifying oil and vinegar. Basically, you have to use something to get the oil and vinegar to stay mixed together instead of separating. Aquafaba can fulfill that role, resulting in a delicious salad dressing that you can flavour any old way you like. And since balsamic vinegar is already dark, you can use whatever aquafaba you have—like from black beans or kidney beans—without worrying about discoloration. (Note that if you do use aquafaba for white mayo, or icing, or anything else where the end product should be white or light-coloured, you’ll need aquafaba from a light bean.)
Moreover, making your own salad dressing gives you full control over the ingredients—you can flavour it however you’d like, without making it as sweet as commercial dressings, without allergens or gluten, without dairy or eggs. In the dozen or so times I’ve made this dressing, I’ve learned to add flavour, and yes, to add just a bit of sweetener. Balsamic vinegar is flavourful but a little agave or maple syrup cuts a bit of the acidity and makes your taste buds sing.
Best of all, making this recipe takes about 45 seconds with a stick blender, lasts several days in the fridge, and really impresses. “You made this dressing?!”

Basic Balsamic Salad Dressing
Difficulty level: easy
Time: less than 5 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 tbsp. aquafaba (the cooking liquid from beans; for this recipe you can use the liquid from any bean, like chickpeas, pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, or black beans)
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup olive oil or canola oil (olive oil will have a stronger olive taste, while canola oil will be more neutral)
  • 1 to 2 tsp. agave or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder, granulated onion, or dried minced onion (or a very small amount of fresh minced onion—start small and add more after tasting if needed)
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder, granulated garlic, or minced dried garlic (or a very small amount of fresh minced garlic—start small and add more after tasting if needed)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add aquafaba, vinegar, and oil to a cup measure or other narrow container. (Tip: if you blend it in a bowl, the stick blender may not reach the liquid. A tall, narrow container is best! It just needs to be wide enough to fit the bottom of the stick blender.)

Start with a half-cup of oil, blend with the stick blender for a couple seconds, and then check consistency. Add a couple tablespoons of oil at a time, and then briefly blend until a suitable consistency has been achieved. Note it will thicken in the fridge, so if you’re not using all the salad dressing right away, err on the side of a little thinner. (Don’t stress, it’s easy enough to add more vinegar if it’s too thick or more oil if it’s too thin.)

Add remaining ingredients and blend briefly until combined. Store in the fridge in a covered container; it’s best used within a few days.

The Perfect, Toasty Winter Snack: Tamari Almonds

Recipe and image provided by Sarah Bradley

Mid-winter brings a welcome introspective energy. I’ve been lucky to take part in yoga teacher training, which means my weekends are immersed in quiet reflection, movement, learning, and building community.

Long days at the yoga studio are rich with learning and connection. But guess what: even yogis get hangry! This is why it’s crucial to prepare an array of snacks for a sustainable source of energy.

If you are craving the perfect, filling winter snack abundant in protein and fats that you can easily adapt to your taste, then I highly recommend tamari almonds. Here’s an easy recipe, made entirely with ingredients from Karma’s incredible bulk section. If you haven’t tried bulk maple syrup, you are in for a treat. Pro tip: I like to bring small jam jars to fill up with spices.

They are a little bit sweet with a hint of smoky flavour, and best of all, you can adapt the recipe to incorporate your favourite spices. If you have a sweeter tooth, consider adding more maple syrup to the mix.


  • Coconut oil, to grease baking sheet
  • 1 – 2 cups raw almonds
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp white or black sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or Tamari

Spices to taste:

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • 1 Tbsp Nori flakes


Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, toss almonds, sesame oil, maple syrup, sesame seeds, and spices until well coated.

Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they don’t burn!


The Winter Salad That Keeps on Giving: Roasted Vegetable and Lentil Salad with Herbed Dressing

Recipe courtesy of Sarah Bradley, adapted from Alive Magazine.

We’re nearing winter, when kitchen creations centre on root vegetables, grains, pulses, and other locally available goodies from Karma. But for now, we are still lucky to have access to some bright, colourful produce that brings memories of warmer days to our kitchens. For those of us whose work days can be long and time in the kitchen limited, it’s nice to have simple yet hearty dishes that can be prepared on days off and be savoured throughout the week.

I was inspired to make this salad during a recent visit to Karma, when the discounted produce shelf was brimming with violet eggplant, red peppers, and both yellow and green zucchini – what a luxury! I picked up a clove of garlic, a bunch of parsley, a lemon, and filled a jar of lentils, and rushed home, eager to get cooking.

This dish is bursting with flavour and different textures. It will fill your kitchen with the aroma of roasting vegetables and herbs and the satisfying earthiness of brown lentils. A rich, flavourful dressing holds it all together.

Best of all, it’s one of those meals that almost tastes even better as leftovers! After a long week, it’s so lovely to open one’s fridge to a hearty meal. Just reheat on your stovetop or in a casserole dish in your oven, top it off with more fresh herbs and serve alongside a steaming mug of tea or apple cider. It’s just the meal to fill your belly and hold in the warmth for these increasingly chilly evenings. I hope you enjoy!



1 cup (250 mL) dry brown or green lentils
2 medium eggplant, cut in half lengthwise
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
2 red peppers, quartered
1 medium red onion, quartered
1 cup (250 mL) extra-firm tofu, crumbled (press first to get rid of excess liquid)
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced Kalamata olives (optional)
1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white wine vinegar
Approx. 1 cup (250 mL) fresh herbs (I used mint and parsley)
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 tsp (10 mL) maple syrup
2 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper, for roasting veggies



Start by salting your eggplant. Sprinkle cut sides of eggplant with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. Pat dry with a clean tea towel.

While that’s happening, preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C). Prepare two pans either by adding parchment paper or lightly oiling them.

Next, cook those lentils. Place lentils, a pinch of salt, and 4 cups (1 L) water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until lentils have softened. Drain.

Place all veggies in a large bowl. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the two trays in the oven and roast for ~20 minutes. Check frequently to ensure they don’t burn – it really depends on your oven.

Once the veggies have cooled, remove from pans and cut into 1/2 in (1.25 cm) pieces, place in a salad bowl, and let rest for 10 minutes. Toss with lentils, crumbled tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives.

Time to make your dressing! In a small blender, add olive oil, vinegar, herbs, garlic, maple syrup, tahini, mustard, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Add any additional torn herbs as a final touch.

Now dive into those flavours and the satisfaction of preparing a meal that can be enjoyed throughout the week.

Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

Recipe and photo courtesy of Kyla Winchester.

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, December is a busy time of year. There are parties to attend, relatives and friends to visit, gifts to buy, and food to make. Fortunately, homemade chocolate bark can help with several of these things, in a fairly low-stress and delicious way.

People appreciate homemade treats, and I like to make them. However, accommodating different dietary restrictions can make this more complicated, and, frankly, individually baking dozens of tiny complicated cookies is a skill I have yet to master. 

Chocolate bark is, as treats go, easy to adapt to different diets, simple to make and goes over extremely well! If you are trying to reduce your waste this season, chocolate bark will help: it looks lovely in a label-free jam jar with a little note attached. In half an hour plus chilling time you can put the bark in a jar or box and have something lovely to bring to a potluck, share as a hostess gift, or offer in a gift exchange. It also looks fancy without being over-the-top in terms of indulgence.

Accordingly, here’s chocolate bark, with some variations to see you through this busy time of year.

Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

This can be vegan if you use vegan chocolate (depending on the brand, chocolate chips can be vegan) and dairy-free margarine; and can be gluten-free depending on ingredients.

Depending on what you mix with the chocolate, here are 3 options:

  • Peppermint Bark has crushed candy canes. Add a couple full-size canes to a sandwich bag, seal and wrap in a kitchen towel, and crush with a rolling pin.
  • Holiday bark has dried cranberries and almonds.
  • Coconutty bark has coconut and your favourite nuts.

However, this are just a starting point! Use your favourite flavours: cranberries would also go nicely with white chocolate and grated orange peel. Flavour extracts can boost the chocolate without requiring too much work. Some people like raisins with the nuts. Dried cherries or more exotic fruits, like mango and papaya, are lovely, too. Some people like a sprinkle of salt on top; I’m one of those people. Puffed rice and puffed quinoa make a wonderful addition to texture. Even crushed cookie bits! You could also go old-school Mexican-style and add chili flakes.


Yield: Makes 1 baking tray, which is suitable for one gift or as a treat for 4 to 6 people

Difficulty level: Easy

Time: 1 ½ hours including chilling time


1 ½ cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped baking chocolate

Optional: 1 tablespoon coconut oil or margarine helps keep the chocolate shiny, preventing a cloudy appearance, without affecting the flavor.

½ cup of additions like crushed candy canes, mix of dried cranberries and sliced, slivered or coarsely chopped almonds, divided


Line a baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Melt chocolate in the double boiler or microwave. If microwaving, heat for 1 minute, stir, then heat for 30 seconds at a time, alternately mixing, until completely melted. In a double boiler, keep the heat low and stir. When chocolate is melted, add additions but reserve about a quarter. Stir to combine. Spread on a baking sheet until it’s more or less an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining additions on top.

Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, about an hour. Break apart and put in a covered container. If all the additions are dried food, the bark can be stored on the counter. Otherwise, if using fresh food, like orange peel, for example, store in the fridge.

Comfort me with noodles

As soon as I started to think about comfort food, the phrase “comfort me with apples” popped into my head.

Photo by Kyla Winchester

I remembered it as the title of a book of food writing by a former Toronto Star columnist. However, it turns out it’s also the title of a food critic’s memoir and a quote from the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon: “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.” The exact translation varies—sometimes it’s “refresh me with apples”, sometimes it’s “strengthen,” or “apricots.” Once it’s even, “Support me with citrons,” which I find especially interesting because I learned a citron is actually one of the citrus fruits that the other types were derived from—but also because I find citrus far more refreshing than apples.

All this to say: I don’t find apples especially comforting. 

There are a few things we probably universally associate with comfort: something warm or hot, full of carbs, with nostalgic or sentimental feelings. It’s what we want when we’re sick, or tired, or homesick, or just having a bad day. It’s the thing we want to magically appear before us when it’s January and snowy and we have to get groceries but we’d rather not. It’s the thing we want when nothing else will do. 

And yet, I find my comfort foods are changing. When I was a kid, my dad’s chicken noodle soup and my mom’s homemade muffins, fresh from the oven, were the perfect comfort foods. As an adult with the flavours of the world at my door, I now crave things I didn’t even know existed when I went to high school in small-town Ontario: sushi, pho and ramen, dumplings, panini, tamales, and anything with peanut sauce. 

My go-to for peanut sauce is thick rice noodles with baby bok choy and grilled tofu, but it’s a delight on many things: dumplings, summer rolls, even a fusion burrito… and if you dipped raw veggies in it, I’m sure no one would object. If you’re being responsible, add the sauce to your favourite noodles with a veg and a protein and you can have a healthy, filling meal. If you’re not, just pour the sauce on cooked noodles and delight in the saucey goodness.

I make no claims as to the authenticity of this peanut sauce: the original recipe may have been, but since I started making it from the recipe in my head with the ingredients I usually have on hand, it may have strayed. Fortunately, the recipe is flexible: use whatever soy sauce you have around, you can skip the ginger if necessary, make it thinner or thicker as you see fit. The beauty of comfort food is that it only needs to make you happy. 

Peanut sauce

Attributes: Vegan, can be gluten-free with tamari instead of soy sauce (check the label to confirm)
Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty level: Easy

½ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or substitute with 1 tablespoon lime juice)
Grated or chopped garlic to taste (start with a half a large clove or 1 small clove, then add more as desired)
Approx. a 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or chopped
Chili flakes or chili sauce to taste
Cold water to thin sauce, if needed

Add all ingredients except water to a bowl and whisk to combine. Add water to achieve desired consistency. It will thicken in the fridge, so if you’re saving it for later, check consistency before adding to noodles, etc. 

Submitted by Kyla Winchester

Easy, Crowd-pleasing Autumn Apple Crisp

Recipe and photo courtesy of Kyla Winchester.

My dad was the one who cooked in our family, and I can only conclude he didn’t like making pies. For Thanksgiving, he made apple crisp, or occasionally ‘pumpkin pudding’—which as an adult I now realize is an easy way to get sweet, creamy pumpkin filling and vanilla ice cream without the fuss of making a crust. (Yes, pumpkin pudding was just pumpkin pie without the crust—sneaky, huh?)

Apple crisp is a great fall recipe, and an easy, less-fussy but still delicious dessert for Thanksgiving—and simply modified for various diets. It’s also easy to delegate to eager but less-experienced cooks who can help with peeling and coring apples. My dad’s recipe was of the ‘some of this, some of that’ variety: light on amounts and heavy on winging it. So if someone offers to make it while you and/or others are taking care of the rest of the meal, let them take it on—it’s pretty easy to have delicious results.


Portions: 6 to 8

Difficulty level: Easy

Time: 30 to 40 minutes active, and up to 1 hour passive cooking



Note – For vegans, use non-dairy margarine. For gluten-free folks, use rice flour or another gluten-free flour mix. If cross contamination is an issue (such as with celiacs) be sure to get gluten-free oats.

6 large or 8 mediums apples

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour (You can use whatever flour you have on hand: white, whole wheat, pastry, whole wheat pastry, spelt, etc. or substitute with rice flour or other gluten-free flour.)

½ cup sugar

½ cup margarine, room temperature

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch nutmeg, if desired



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and core apples. Slice apple 1/8”- to 1/4”-inch thick. Put in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add oats, flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon; stir to combine. Add margarine and use the back of a fork to ‘cut’ the margarine in, until the mixture comes together and has a ‘crumbly’ texture.

Pour out half the oat mixture onto the apples and stir to combine. Add this to an oven-safe dish around 10” square.

Pour the rest of the oat mixture on top of the apple-oat mixture and spread out evenly on top. (Don’t press it down; part of what makes it delicious is the uneven texture and the crispy bits.)

Cook 45 to 60 minutes, uncovered. Check the tenderness of the apples in the middle after 45 minutes by testing with a fork. Make sure the top is crispy before removing—if it’s not, turn on the top element in your oven, place the dish on the top rack and brown for a couple minutes. (But set a timer so you don’t forget!)

If there are any leftovers, cover the dish and refrigerate.

Note – you can modify this recipe to your preference, e.g. add dried cranberries to the apple mixture, or add chopped nuts to the oat mixture.



Easy Lentil Walnut Dip

Summer may be winding down, but the days are still long, the sun has been gracing us with warmth well past sunset, and the neighbourhood is buzzing with activity, from park picnics to street festivals to spontaneous porch conversations. During this time of abundant energy, I find it’s nice to find quiet moments between activity to prepare simple but filling snacks that can fill the gaps between meals.

Lately, I’ve been getting creative with dips and spreads, perfect for packing into a container and serving with those Karma veggies we love (purple carrots! spicy radishes! refreshing field cucumbers!) or hearty crackers full of grains and seeds.

All you need is a blender or small food processor, a few simple ingredients, and fresh herbs of your choosing to whip up this nutritious dip.


  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup whole red lentils
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves, soaked in water overnight
  • Juice of half a lemon (tip: heat the lemon in a microwave or add to your garlic clove pan for a few minutes to make it easier to juice)
  • 1 tbsp red miso paste
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt or Herbamare (aromatic seasoning, available at Karma)
  • Fresh herbs, roughly chopped (I like the mild, bright flavour of parsley, but I think rosemary, thyme, sage would also work well)
  • Optional toppings:
    • Pinch of smoked paprika
    • Toasted pumpkin seeds
    • Dash of fresh olive oil
    • Additional fresh herbs, roughly chopped just before serving


Cook lentils: rinse the lentils in cold water. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add rinsed lentils, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer ~15 minutes or until lentils have fully absorbed water. Set aside to cool.

Roast garlic: preheat oven or toaster oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread garlic cloves in a single layer and drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with Herbamare and pepper.
Roast garlic for 30 to 40 minutes, gently shaking the pan halfway through, until cloves begin to soften and brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Carefully add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Contributed by Sarah Bradley

Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

I learned to cook after I moved away from home. Because my dad stayed home when I was born so my mom could go back to work, he was the one who cooked in our household, and this was unusual in the 70s when I was born. Surprisingly, it seems to still not be that common–the more things change, the more they stay the same? But he embraced it. After his divorce, Dad learned to cook for himself, then he cooked for my mom and then for me and my brother, too.

However, Dad didn’t have the patience to teach us how to cook. I watched and retained some things–the basics of making gravy from pan drippings, the importance of summer savoury in our Thanksgiving meals, how to make your own stock–but never took in enough to full-on cook. One of the things that did stick was soups.

My dad was great at soups. He made chicken-noodle soup with noodles from scratch. I know! Noodles from scratch–so amazing. He made thick pea soup, beef and barley, and more, all from scratch, with leftovers even better than the first day. So, it is fitting now that soups are some of my favourite go-to meals. This lovely soup is in my regular rotation.

Butternut Squash and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

I learned the basics of this recipe from a chef in the kitchen where I worked while in university. It was delicious–smooth and hearty with a delightful kick. For months I asked the chef about the secret ingredient, receiving only an enigmatic smile. I didn’t give up, and eventually he told me: black pepper. Lots of black pepper. I’ve added an option for other spices if you’re interested, but I recommend just adding lots of black pepper.

Attributes: Vegan, gluten-free, can be oil-free

Difficulty level: Easy

Time: 30 minutes + 15 minutes active, and 1– 8 hours passive cooking, depending on method

Recommended serving: The soup is light, so serve with bread or with salad greens topped with chickpeas for a lunch, or with a sandwich or wrap for a heartier meal.

Accordingly, makes roughly 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or ¼-cup vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into roughly 1-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, and cut in half (let your budget and your taste buds be your guide to quantity–you can also use white mushrooms, cremini, portobello or any mushroom you desire–but remove the black gills from portobellos or they will darken the lovely orange of the soup)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, or more broth or water to cover butternut squash if it’s very large
  • Salt, to taste (may not be necessary if you’re using store-bought broth)
  • Fresh ground black pepper, lots, or to taste
  • Optional: coconut milk, ½ cup to 1 cup
  • Optional spices such as cumin, chili powder, or paprika
  • Optional toppings as below

(This recipe can be adapted for a slow cooker or Instant Pot. See instructions in parentheses.)

Sauté onions in a large pot on the stovetop (or Instant Pot) in oil or broth over medium heat, until soft and translucent. If using broth, have some extra on hand to ensure it doesn’t evaporate and burn the onion. When onions are ready, add butternut squash, mushroom, salt and stock. (Or add onions to slow cooker, then add squash, mushrooms, salt and stock.)  Grind ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper on top. Add optional spices as desired. Turn heat to high to boil, then lower to low-medium and simmer 45 min to 1 hour. (Or set a slow cooker to 8 hours on low or as directed by manufacturer; or set pressure cooker to 45 minutes.) After an hour, checking for softness of the squash: a fork will easily pierce the squash when it’s done. You can’t really over-cook this soup, so don’t stress–if you’d like to keep it cooking so you can finish something else or watch the end of the last episode of whatever you’re streaming, just make sure there is enough broth to keep the squash and mushrooms covered.

When the squash is done, blend everything with a stick blender, or carefully add in batches to blend in a countertop blender. Use your judgement on how much to blend, if you prefer a little mushroom texture or would rather it be smooth. I think the soup is lovely as-is, but those who prefer a creamier soup can stir in coconut milk: start with a half-cup and taste before adding more. (Don’t simmer after adding coconut milk or the soup will ‘split.’)

For fancier presentation or if you just think soups deserve to be treated like the 4-star dishes they are, add a topping: caramelized onions, croutons or a slice of crusty bread, a swirl of plain coconut yogurt or coconut milk, or toasted pumpkin seeds. A roasted potato wedge might be nice too.

Contributed by Kyla Winchester