This story is inspired by a young man whom we recently worked with on a food photoshoot. Time can drag a bit on a food shoot as you wait for things to come together. I was talking to this young man who was in charge of this particular assignment and we got onto his recent decision to try out being a vegan. We eventually got around to the philosophy of food choice and lifestyle.
“Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan. Distinctions may be made between several categories of veganism. Dietary vegans refrain from consuming animal products, not only meat but also eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived substances”. Wikipedia. I shall stick with the diet aspect of the philosophy.
This young man had been on his new vegan diet for about 8 months and his wife actually inspired him to join her on this adventure. He was a former meat eater and in particular loves cheese. We talked at length about the health benefits of a plant based diet and the impact of consuming animal products on the planet ecosystem. I came to realize that this was not the first time I had encountered this conscious decision to alter lifestyle. It is no longer one that you can make if you are affluent. There is a growing concern among several generations about the impact of how we live on the planet. Our choices are shaping the future.
I have begun to consciously choose more plant based items to consume and add that to my list of singular efforts to combat climate change. Just as I was thinking about this issue each day and learning a bit more about blending the vegan lifestyle choices into my animal by product lifestyle, Food & Wine Magazine arrived. The cover photograph was one of Rocket Soup. I checked it out and there were no animal by products in it with the exception of Greek Yogurt as a finishing touch.
I celebrate my new appreciation of the vegan lifestyle with the recipe and my own photograph of the Rocket Soup. Excerpted from Food & Wine , January 2019
Rocket Soup (Shorbat Jarjir)
The Palestinian soup is all about the greens and stock. Seek out spicier, mature arugula at the store or farm stand, and break out a homemade batch of broth from the freezer (or use your favorite store-bought brand). A final dollop of Greek yogurt adds just the right amount of richness. (Optional).
2 Tbsp. light olive oil
1 medium yellow onion roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. grated fresh nutmeg
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 medium russet potato, chopped
4 cups homemade or low sodium vegetable stock
7 oz. arugula
5 1/4 oz. fresh spinach
1 oz. cilantro springs (about 1/2 cup packed)
Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt for serving (optional)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil for serving
Heat light olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, just until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in numeric, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice: cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Add potato and stock, and bring to a simmer (medium heat). Cook until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
Reserve a handful of arugula for garnish. Add spinach, cilantro, and remaining arugula to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook 10 minutes. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender. Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece of lid to allow steam to escape. Place a clean kitchen towel over opening. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Divide among 4 bowls.
Top each serving with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt (optional), some of the reserved arugula, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Note: Arugula has been enjoyed by the Italians and French for centuries. It has become popular in the US somewhat more recently. Other names - rucola, roquette or rocket. Rocket is a derivative of the French “roquette”.
Arugula is very versatile and nutritious. It is high in Vitamins A and C, good source of calcium and Vitamin K. It has a delightful peppery flavor. Too with olive oil and a splash of lemon and top with shaved Parmesan cheese (non-vegans).
Idea: Arugula Pesto