West African Peanut Stew

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. After all, we are Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen, and these kitchens extend far and wide, all over the world. Tables that welcome the “Stranger as Christ”, kitchens that “practice the presence of God” as Brother Lawrence taught, and communities that are built by hospitality, love and prayer. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity.

Mepkin Abbey is a monastery of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists. We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and were founded in 1098 in Citeaux, France, from which we get our name “Cistercian.” As Trappists we are a cloistered contemplative community, worshipping God by chanting the psalms daily and seeking God in silence and solitude. Mepkin Abbey was founded in 1949 from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, the first Trappist abbey in America founded in 1848 from France.

We have the tradition of eating simple meatless meals. The recipes in “Food for Thought” are chosen with the eye to healthy, easy to prepare meals that met the needs of our tradition and satisfy hard working monks. Good healthy food contributes to the mindfulness of God that we seek as we give thanks for all God has provided us.

Lent is a special time, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday our main meal consists of bread and water. And in the evenings the brothers share a time of sacred reading of the Lenten book they chose, which was given in ceremony to each one by Father Abbot.

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West African Peanut Stew
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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Put oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the stock, sweet potatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down heat to medium low so the soup bubbles gently.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, kale, beans and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes till potatoes and kale are tender.
  5. Stir in peanut butter and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Taste to adjust seasoning and serve.

To Order “Food for Thought”, call Mepkin Abbey at 843-761-8509, prompt #2, for the Gift Shop.

Festive Christmas Cauliflower

Last week one of our convent dinners included a whole head of cauliflower covered with a flavorful cheesy topping that was most enjoyable. Eating this prompted me to begin speculating about a possible Christmas cauliflower creation that might enhance a holiday dinner table. I envisioned something a little more dressed up with a stylish bit of sparkle and festive flare.

Here is what resulted from my culinary day dreaming: One saucy Head of cauliflower steamed whole, then covered with a combination of mayonnaise, etc., adorned with a skirt of rich dark green kale that has been slightly braised in oil and stylishly fluffed out around it. This basic beginning would then be tastefully embellished with bright red jewel like roasted cherry tomatoes. Thus attired my plain head of cauliflower would be stylishly prepared to make her special appearance at a very special meal.

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Festive Christmas Cauliflower
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
10minutes
READY IN
50minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Steam or boil cauliflower until soft but still firm about 20-25 minutes.
  2. Combine cheese, onion, pimento, and mayonnaise. Spread over cauliflower completely and place in a baking dish or pan.
  3. Put in a high oven (400 degrees) for a long as it takes to gain a nice golden glaze.
  4. Let rest a while.
  5. Toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil and lay out in a single layer on a sheet pan.
  6. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
  7. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes at 400 degrees, until tomatoes are soft.
  8. Chop kale and sauté in oil and garlic.
  9. Place cauliflower on a bed of kale. Scatter or place tomatoes around it as desired.

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couliflour

Vegan Curried Chickpea, Coconut and Kale Soup

This past weekend, I was a joy-filled member of the cooking team for our remarkable and award-winning marching band, Spirit of America. The band is embarking on a very exciting groundbreaking opportunity to travel to Dubai this January (2017) to assist in starting the first marching field band in the United Arab Emirates!
Over the past few months, they’ve had 4 rehearsals together to pull off this enormous project — creating a field show with 150 people from all over the United States!  One thing we knew for sure, they needed to be fed well! My job was to cook for those with special diets. It was fun to spoil them and experiment with recipes that were gluten free, lactose free and vegan! When the weekend was over, it got me to thinking about creating more healthy recipes that we could add to our diet. This soup is high in fiber and packed with flavor, especially if you like the tastes of curry and coconut.
For more info about our band, click here (link: http://spiritofamericaband.org/).
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Vegan Curried Chickpea, Coconut and Kale Soup
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
10minutes
PREP TIME
15minutes
READY IN
1/2hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. First, sauté the onion in 2 Tbsp of olive oil until softened.
  2. Combine all ingredients​, except the lemon zest and juice, ​in a blender and puree until completely smooth.
  3. Pour soup into a medium pot and heat on medium-high. Allow soup to simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the lemon zest and juice.
  5. Adjust seasonings to your liking and add fresh cracked pepper.
  6. Serve and garnish with the extra garbanzo beans and fresh kale​.

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Kale Potato Leek Soup

After having had so many special meals over Christmas and New Year’s
we wanted to come up with a simple yet satisfying supper on New Year’s
day. Remembering that we still had some leeks braving the cold out in our
almost barren gardens we decided on a potato leek soup, homemade bread
and a hearty salad. Since there was also some kale fighting for
survival out there why not add that to the soup making it even
healthier and giving it yet another dimension?

Our decision turned out to be a good one and everyone enjoyed it! They especially
appreciated its being light as well as very flavorful and heart-
warming,(the flavor was even better the next day) so when we make
it again I will suggest we make it a day or two before actually serving it.
We garnished it with a dollop of sour cream and chopped kale. A few bacon bits
or curls, if desired, could also add to its look and flavor.

*Whether you get your leeks from your garden or your grocery store it is important
to wash them ever so thoroughly because they often have soil hidden between the leaves
at their stems.

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Kale Potato Leek Soup
SERVINGS
6
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
1hour
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 ½hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large (6-plus quart) stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and potato and kale . Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8 to 12 minutes (this time will vary greatly depending on the surface area of the bottom of your pot).
  2. Add the vegetable stock and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Blend until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
  4. Add the cream, and season to taste with salt (I start with 1 teaspoon and go from there, tasting frequently) and lemon juice and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  5. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a healthy sprinkling of kale or bacon bits.

Hearty Tuscan Kale Soup

I went out to the gardens the other morning to see them-after they’d been put to bed a few weeks ago. This is always a  bittersweet moment for me each year. They were nicely raked and  everything all carefully harvested (which is to me the sad part).  That is, almost everything harvested, because I did spy something that suddenly gladdened my heart. …….a vibrant green patch of kale in the farthest corner. This means that one of the healthiest of green vegetables will be available to us all winter long. No need to rush and gather it  before the frost because the frost simply sweetens it and makes it more  flavorful.
I grew up on kale when it was not so widely recognized and used as it is today. Just during this past year kale has rapidly increased in popularity as awareness of its nutritional value has been discovered. One of the richest sources of vitamin C, it is a perfect  winter food.
I love it simply sautéed in fresh garlic and olive oil and  simmered till soft and tender the old Mediterranean way, but it also  makes a marvelous hearty Tuscan soup for a cold weather meal when served with good crusty bread.
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Hearty Tuscan Kale Soup
SERVINGS
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
40minutes
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Warm oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute sausage until browned, about 10 minutes; set aside.
  3. Add onion and celery; saute until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and red pepper. Saute 1 minute.
  5. Pour in broth, raise heat to high and bring just to a boil, scraping up brown bits.
  6. Return sausage to pot; stir in tomatoes and beans. Bring back to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Season soup with salt and pepper. Stir in kale, cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
  9. Stir in parsley and top with Parmesan, if desired.

Tuscan Tomato, Bread And Herb Soup

I went out to the gardens the other morning to see them-after they’d been put to bed a few weeks ago. This is always a  bittersweet moment for me each year. They were nicely raked and  everything all carefully harvested (which is to me the sad part).  That is, almost everything harvested, because I did spy something that suddenly gladdened my heart. …….a vibrant green patch of kale in the farthest corner. This means that one of the healthiest of green vegetables will be available to us all winter long. No need to rush and gather it  before the frost because the frost simply sweetens it and makes it more  flavorful.
I grew up on kale when it was not so widely recognized and used as it is today. Just during this past year kale has rapidly increased in popularity as awareness of its nutritional value has been discovered. One of the richest sources of vitamin C, it is a perfect  winter food.
I love it simply sautéed in fresh garlic and olive oil and  simmered till soft and tender the old Mediterranean way, but it also  makes a marvelous hearty Tuscan soup for a cold weather meal when served with good crusty bread.
Hearty Tuscan Kale Soup
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Tuscan Tomato, Bread And Herb Soup
SERVINGS
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COOK TIME
36mins.
PREP TIME
READY IN

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Warm oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute sausage until browned, about 10 minutes; set aside.
  3. Add onion and celery; saute until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and red pepper.
  5. Saute 1 minute.
  6. Pour in broth, raise heat to high and bring just to a boil, scraping up brown bits.
  7. Return sausage to pot; stir in tomatoes and beans. Bring back to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Season soup with salt and pepper.
  10. Stir in kale, cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
  11. Stir in parsley and top with Parmesan, if desired.