The past few days have been wild and stormy here in the Sunny Bay of Plenty. There has been lots of rain and wind - perfect weather for hibernating at home and playing indoors with the baby.
The past few months have been a challenge for me in learning to enjoy the little moments, the slow days, and embrace a mostly home-based life. For so long my days had been measured by what I'd achieved or who I'd seen. In looking ahead and planning the next day, my considerations were ones of self determination - how to fit in everything I wanted to do so that I could be who I wanted to be in life, to be a 'successful', happy young person.
A dear friend put it aptly: we aren't prepared well by our culture for the selflessness demanded of us by motherhood.
I suppose we are all searching for fulfilment in some place or another - something to fill the ache within us, the ache that longs for the world to be put to rights. For justice to reign. For beauty to be complete, not tarnished by poverty, inequity, selfishness, evil.
My life up until having a baby had been self-focussed; it had been all about me. I sought fulfilment in my achievements, in getting things done.
Motherhood so far has been a journey in redefining a successful day. How do you measure the success, or otherwise, of your day?
I awoke on the first day of Spring to a wild storm. I thought about the day ahead - inside, sheltering from the elements. Rather than bemoan my life "stuck" at home, I consciously took a different approach. I chose to slow down and make the most of my home-based life. Not to strive, but to peacefully serve. What would a successful day look like? Engaging with my daughter, meeting her emotional and physical needs, and taking pride in my home. Even if I did nothing else but love my daughter, that would be success.
As it turned out, Emilia had a few great naps that day (yay for unexpected pockets of time!) so I turned my hand to the kitchen with the goal of making a hearty, warming dish for the stormy first day of spring.
Spanish Black Bean and Chorizo Soup
The intensity of flavour in this hearty Spanish dish is outrageous. Strong word choice? Believe me, this soup deserves that description.
A lovely balance of flavours is struck between the fruity tomato, lemon and paprika, and the spicy chorizo sausage. No preprepared stock is required to enhance this dish: the carrots and celery add depth of flavour as well as bountiful nutrition. The soup is topped off with a big handful of chopped Italian flat leaf parsley and aged cheddar cheese for maximum effect and satisfaction.
I believe that is all the explanation that this miraculous (did I just say that?) soup will allow, it really must be tried for yourself. You are sure to be gratified in your efforts - your family and friends will thank you most profusely after savouring every mouthful.
Please note: This is a spicy soup. If you do not like spice, reduce or omit the red chilli.
1T ghee, or other heat-stable oil, for frying
6 chorizo sausages (about 600g), sliced on the angle
1 red chilli, diced, seeds included
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves of gralic, minced
1T paprika (heaped)
1 bunch celery, leaves removed, sliced
3 carrots, halved lengthways and then sliced
2T apple cider vinegar
1 can peeled Italian tomatoes in juice (400g)
2T tomato paste
1L fresh filtered water
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed (400g)
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt, to taste
1. Melt oil in a large casserole pot (ceramic or cast-iron is preferable) over a medium-high heat.
2. Add sliced chorizo and cook until browned on all sides. Set aside the meat, leaving the meat fat and oil in the pot.
3. Reduce heat to medium and cook the onions, garlic and spices until fragrant; 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the carrot and celery, along with the browned chorizo, and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring intermittently.
4. Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pot using a flat-bottomed wooden spoon. This is to release any flavoursome spices or bits of food that have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
5. Pour in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water and lemon juice.
6. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for approximately 20 mintues.
7. Add the black beans and season with salt.
Serve with large handfuls of Italian flat leaf parsley and chunks of aged cheddar cheese.