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orange + ancho tempeh tacos w/ ruby grapefruit slaw


I say this about so many things, but winter citrus is certain proof that we are loved in this world. January brings us to more hours spent in darkness. The sun is elusive on most days, giving way to shades of mud and blinding white. On winter drives through all of the sleepy orchards, there’s an illusion of hollow space, that the rows of black and empty branches cross each other forever and for no reason, that your breath could escape and go on. A cloudy and warm gasp would lift from your mouth, drifting over the fields searching listlessly for another of its kind. Stepping outside invites the bizarrely comforting act of bundling yourself up to face the world. Promises of impending greatness well up and wait. By the end of March, I’m on my knees for a release from the extremity of it, the spatial restlessness and cold grey, the bleak landscape that seems to dwell within.

Then there are splendid and simple moments, ones of clarity. Cutting into any one of the satsumas, lemons, blood oranges, grapefruits, or tangerines, taking a second to revel in the brightness, is one of those moments. Vivid colour, the intensely perfumed oil in the skin, all succulent with tart sweetness, the symmetry within the shapes–all reminders of the warmth in the design of this world. The core of life still glows and we are assured at the very sight of those neon orbs that vibrate with the sun and earth’s strength.

Something unusual to wake up my winter-dulled sensibilities was bubbling away in my mind and it had to be a chop, a shred, a seasoning from up high, toss toss toss and a fast sear away. Quick. Jude Blereau’s orange pan-glazed tempeh (first seen on 101 Cookbooks for me) is one of my favourite ways to utilize citrus in an upfront and savoury sort of way. I swap out the coriander for some ground ancho chilies in pursuit of heat, but otherwise keep it to the letter and simple. Have you tried tempeh before? That fermented, probiotic and protein-heavy vegan wonder food? The texture is toothsome. The flavour is nutty, hinting at mushrooms and damp, forest floor kind of qualities. It has roots in Indonesian cuisine and stands in beautifully for tofu and animal proteins.

Right here, it goes for a bit of a sear and a sloshy glaze of maple, ancho and soy infused orange juice. I thought of it as the foundation of a taco with a slaw saturated in grapefruit juice and flecked with fresh mint. Grapefruit gets on beautifully with creamy and mild avocado, so that became the crucial third component. A little frivolous tangle of sprouts on top felt fine in the moment. Finishing squeezes of lime are available for even more freshness. The combination is nicely jarring and it brings the world a bit closer, what with the participatory nature of taco get-togethers. The gathering, assembly and communal eating seems to put us all into the light a little more.


orange + ancho braised tempeh tacos with ruby grapefruit slaw
serves: 4-5
notes: I used an all-soy variety of tempeh for this, but there are many varieties with brown rice and other grains thrown into the mix  that are great. Also, as previously mentioned, I subbed in ancho powder + cayenne for the coriander in Jude’s recipe. You could go so many ways with it though.

1 batch orange pan glazed tempeh (recipe link), subbing ancho powder for the coriander

ruby grapefruit slaw:
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and shredded
1 small carrot, grated or peeled into ribbons (I used a funky white, heirloom one)
juice of 1 grapefruit + I cut up a few sections of it for visual/textural interest in the slaw
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 green onions, sliced finely
4 sprigs of mint, leaves sliced finely
salt and pepper

assembly:
corn tortillas, warmed
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted + sliced
handfuls of sprouts (I had pea shoots around)
lime wedges
sriracha or other hot sauce

Prepare the slaw: combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjust, and set aside.

Dice and warm all of the assembly components and set aside.

Prepare tempeh according to directions. Serve hot with other taco accoutrements.

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Kathryn09/01/2013 - 6:19 am

This really is food to make you feel alive isn’t it? The brightness and lightness sounds just what I’m graving in these grey January days.

Caitlin09/01/2013 - 7:36 am

there is something cutting into a big, beautiful grapefruit that makes winter a little sweeter. these tacos look incredibly delicious, and i’d love to just eat up all the slaw in one sitting.

thelittleloaf09/01/2013 - 9:21 am

Everything you’re posting at the moment is exactly what I’m craving! These flavours look and sound delicious.

Michelle09/01/2013 - 10:39 am

So much love for this.

la domestique09/01/2013 - 11:23 am

Absolutely gorgeous, Laura! I’ve never tried tempeh, but your description has certainly tempted me to do so. The recipe looks so fresh and uplifting.

Heather09/01/2013 - 12:37 pm

I just read your interview on Mint, which part of Canada are your from. I am now living in Seattle, but used to live in Victoria, BC? I love this post, the recipe and the photos.

Laura09/01/2013 - 1:10 pm

Heather! I’m from the Niagara region of Southern Ontario. Lived in Toronto for a loooong time, but came back to my hometown for some country livin’. Thanks for your kindness too! xo
-L

Sarah B.09/01/2013 - 4:27 pm

Such a beautiful post Laura, especially love those first three. And delicious, going to whole foods now, might drop some tempeh in my basket. Just a little inspiration today, weee :) Happy New Year to you! <3

Ashley09/01/2013 - 10:19 pm

Love this post through + through. The photos are perfect, and I especially love the newspaper background. I’ve also never seen a better looking avocado! I completely agree about winter citrus. I am just loving it at the moment. Funny you mentioned the orange tempeh from 101 Cookbooks, as I’m about to make that tonight. It’s one meal that is constantly repeated around here. Definitely want to try your additions to that tempeh soon!

Kelsey09/01/2013 - 10:20 pm

The universe, and it’s gift of citrus, blows my mind. Love this, love you. Happy 2013, lady.

sara forte09/01/2013 - 11:26 pm

I am seasonally picky. Most of the year I say I don’t like orange/grapefruits for snacking and such, but come winter, I can’t get enough satsumas, clementines etc. Same goes for tomatoes, I’ll only eat them two months out of the year, max. My mom says I’m a snob but I don’t know why you’d bother otherwise. Like you said, good tasting citrus is proof we are loved :) These look fabulous and your photos are so stunning. Especially that grapefruit. love to you, little lady.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar10/01/2013 - 12:20 pm

So pretty (as always). Love this idea!

Kathryne10/01/2013 - 1:04 pm

Beautifully said, Laura. Citrus is absolutely a reminder of the warmth in the world. I don’t have much experience with tempeh but these tacos make me want to change that. Your photos are exquisite, oh that light!

dervla @ The Curator10/01/2013 - 2:27 pm

Found you through Mint today. Looking forward to reading! Those tacos look amazing. Happy new year!

Jeanine10/01/2013 - 2:35 pm

I loved that orange glazed tempeh on 101 Cookbooks too! Looks so fresh with your grapefruit and mint, yum!

Elenore Bendel Zahn12/01/2013 - 4:41 am

I love you, Laura.

…and I wish we could share that citrus moments right about now

Jacqui13/01/2013 - 6:45 pm

I’m so in love with all the color going on here! Enough to turn any of these NW winter gray days into bright ones! Amazingly, I happen to every single one of these ingredients in my kitchen right now too, these are so happening!

[…] Citrus is certain proof that we are loved, says Laura at The First Mess, and I couldn’t agree […]

Kate28/01/2013 - 6:30 pm

I’ve never done anything with tempeh, but this recipe makes me want to begin a tentative relationship with it. Of course, it’s a taco. That makes it simple.

Perry29/01/2013 - 2:43 pm

Thank you for this recipe! It was a perfect winter meal. Just the right combination of heartiness and refreshment. Yum!

Jessie01/02/2013 - 9:46 am

What a great blog you have here! Love the healthy recipes and mouth watering photos.

[…] Orange and Ancho Tempeh Tacos with Grapefruit Slaw […]

the soup that heals

Happy new year to you! Sending all of my big hugs. The time for personal betterment is upon us (as always). But first, some soup.

A snow storm drove us indoors right in the midst of holiday time, so I’ve been going hard with the nesting/self care thing. I love to make a vegetable-heavy soup with miso, shoyu/tamari and ginger when I feel a bit off, whether I’m hungover or just generally space-y. The steamy ritual of it brings me back to earth and offers a bit of reconnection. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; just whatever vegetables you have around, a nice broth and some quiet time to enjoy. A version of it was my breakfast of choice for a while, a blast of perfect silence to get the day rolling.

This particular version follows the theme of intense nourishment. I took every immune-boosting, deep-warming, feel good vibe-inducing ingredient I had and put it into this healthy and delicious bowl of love. You get to hold your head over the pot of fragrant broth while it simmers and deepens in flavour. I’m pretty fond of these pour-over style soups. Get the broth crazy hot, splash it around some finely cut vegetables/precooked noodles etc, and instant comfort is yours for the moment. If you batch-cook some broth, tasty and fortifying lunches are a cinch throughout the week.

There’s a lot going on in the pot and I’m confident that some ingredients can be substituted/left out altogether and you’ll still wind up with something tasty and soothing–very much a freestyle kind of effort. I used shiitake mushrooms (stems + caps), ginger, lemongrass, chilies, miso, tamari, cilantro (stems + leaves), thyme and some other aromatics. Pour that potent and mega hot broth over a tangle of vegetable shreds, garnish with sprouts and herbs, a squeeze of lime, some drops of sesame oil, maybe a dab of sriracha swirled into the mix. The process of it leads to a surprisingly heady food-life experience. Simmer, chop, pour, garnish, breathe it in, spoon lifted, instant calm.

Once you get into it, slurping everything up gives you a lightly sweaty flash of food-induced warmth that feels so good. It’s that deeply restorative, whole body satiation that snaps everything into focus and makes you feel ready. Nourishment and power in the palm of your hands. 2013, bring it.


a magic healing soup
serves:
2
notes: Whatever vegetables you decide to use, make sure they’re sliced up rather finely. You’re depending on the heat of the broth to soften them up, so rustic chunkiness is less desirable in this recipe. A vegetable peeler, which is what I used to make the strands of broccoli stems, is very helpful with achieving fine-ness.

broth:
1 five inch piece of lemongrass, bashed up with the back of your knife
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 onion, quartered
4-5 shiitake mushroom stems (slice the caps for the soup)
1 three inch piece of ginger, sliced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 chili, sliced in half
4-5 sprigs thyme
handful of cilantro stems (save the leaves)
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
2 tsp miso (add at the end of simmering time to preserve nutrients)

to serve:
1-1.5 cups finely sliced vegetables per person (I used carrots, snow peas, broccoli stems and the shiitake caps)
cilantro leaves
sliced green onions
sprouts (I had pea shoots)
toasted sesame oil
sriracha
lime wedges

Make the broth: combine all of the broth ingredients except for the miso in a medium-large sauce pan over medium heat. Pour 5 cups of water over top. Bring to a boil and simmer for half an hour or so (or longer if you want a more concentrated stock). Strain the broth and return it to the pot. Keep the broth hot. Add miso to the pot and stir right before serving

While broth is simmering, you can slice up the vegetables and garnishes.

Arrange vegetables in serving bowls. Pour/ladle hot broth over top. Stir it up a bit. Garnish as you like with herbs, sprouts, sriracha etc.

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sreebindu02/01/2013 - 2:56 am

loving your space, New follower here.wishing u a gorgeous new year ahead :)
xx

thelittleloaf02/01/2013 - 5:35 am

I can’t think of a more perfect way to kick off the New Year than with this soup – absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I’m craving.

Emma Galloway02/01/2013 - 8:04 am

Sounds like one beautiful soup. Book-marking for winter down these ways xx

Erin02/01/2013 - 9:36 am

What a delicious looking soup-plus any soup you can lather in sriracha is a good deal :)

Elizabeth A.02/01/2013 - 11:18 am

Great minds really do think alike! I was planning on whipping up a pot of miso soup today, too. I love this concept of pouring the broth over thin vegetable shreds. Totally doing this.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar02/01/2013 - 11:40 am

This looks fabulous!

Ashlae03/01/2013 - 12:44 am

This is my kinda soul food. Looks delicious, lady – can’t wait to try.

Kathryn03/01/2013 - 6:35 am

I need a big bowl of this soup right now I think – I’m totally craving bright and fresh flavours after the excesses of Christmas.

Dawn @ Florida Coastal Cooking03/01/2013 - 6:53 am

What a pretty soup! We definitely need more healing soups after the holidays.

Hannah04/01/2013 - 1:45 am

Bring it indeed! This looks terrific Laura – can’t wait to give it a go. (Also, that bowl with the punchy red lip is a perfect vessel for showcasing that riot of color! Love it).

vegan miam04/01/2013 - 2:40 am

I am a massive fan of soups. That looks amazinggggggg

sarah04/01/2013 - 1:18 pm

This post made me feel so happy. What a beautiful soup to start the New Year with. Magic, indeed. {Love you to, Ms. Laura! And Happy New Year!}

Gail06/01/2013 - 4:53 pm

January is definitely my vegetable-craving month. Thanks for the guidelines for making this kind of soup; it’s not one I’ve done at home before. Your composition of vegetables on the cutting board is beautiful and really helped me wrap my mind around the ingredient list: I can do this new combo! And soup for breakfast… Mmmm! Most people don’t get it, but some days it is just Right.

Kathryne06/01/2013 - 6:08 pm

Happy new year, Laura. I just can’t get enough of the flavors in this soup this time of your. So pretty.

Sarah | Shine Food07/01/2013 - 1:26 pm

This is exactly my idea of a magically healing soup. I ate a bowl of pho on new year’s day loaded with sprouts, cilantro, and chilies, and thought, “who needs the noodles?” It’s all about that irresistible broth, the snap of fresh vegetables, and the soul-soothing smell.

We’re collecting healthy recipes for this month’s Shine Supper Club, and this recipe would be an amazing contribution. I hope you’ll join us!

Ashley07/01/2013 - 1:33 pm

This NEEDS to happen around our house. The holidays have ended but I’m having a hard time stopping the holiday eating. This looks like the perfect dish to get us back on track.

[…] Since I can’t eat Vietnamese pho on a regular basis, I think I’m going to give this magic healing soup a go.  Anytime you add sriracha, it’s a good […]

[…] Soup to beat the weather – I came across this website a while back. While she uses tempeh etc.. in her recipes which makes me wary I love her ideas. Plus the photography is brilliant. […]

Angie03/02/2013 - 11:25 pm

I made this today and it came out amazing! Thanks for the recipe.

[…] up was this recipe for “A Soup that Heals”. This soup was wonderfully synergistic and packed with […]

[…] a magic healing soup with a side of brown […]

angela byers27/02/2013 - 9:39 am

Looks awesome

R07/03/2013 - 6:00 am

Miso is my savory best friend. I have a couple of tubs in the fridge t all times. It is soup, broth, or tea in a minute. It plays well with friends, can be sweet with tahini, oranges, etc or savory with lime, ginger and tamari. Really! What ever is in the fridge or cupboard.

Lunch yesterday was leftover noodles, mandaline sliced peppers, scallions, apple, boc choy, summer squash, splash of vinegar, hit of pepper. At work I can microwave water till it boils in a big mug, add anything I want to heat, like the noodles and nuke again, add veggies then nuke again. At the table I dissolve the miso and slurp away.

I answer questions in between my slurps and splashing. ( Japanese cooks find the best compliment to be the most vigorous and loudest slurping) My fellow workers are amazed what I swish in the broth and eat, like left over chicken, more veggies, baked tofu, pork or a crust of bread.

Slurp on people! Miso is what you make it!

[…] DINNER: For dinner I usually have 4 ounces or wild salmon with steamed vegetables and quiona, or a small chicken breast with sauteed kale and quiona. If I eat entirely vegan for dinner, I eat the same quiona bowl variation as suggested for lunch. Some nights I will have salmon sashimi or albacore sashimi from a sushi bar and a bowl of clear soup with mushrooms. I really love having a light dinner and having a filling soup. I usually have vegetable soup or I have this soup. […]

Socca pizza80twenty12/03/2013 - 3:33 pm

[…] During this time, I pumped my body full of concentrated garlic and botanicals, ate 4 batches of this healing broth in 3 days (really, Laura), listened to audio lectures when I could focus, and caught up on […]

[…] Wednesday: Cabbage & kale salad and The Soup that Heals […]

onmybike07/06/2013 - 12:00 am

Absolutely love your site, pics, writing and recipes.

The soup is a particular favourite, nice to see it sso well documented, i’ve been making soup this way for a long time, so quick and easy and soooo good. You describe it so well! Here’s my take on it (plus fresh fish which I adore)

http://2tired2cook.blogspot.co.il/2013/02/sweet-pea-soup.html

Keep up the great work!

Mark30/09/2013 - 1:52 am

This was FABULOUS! But, not enough. I should have noticed it served two… I wanted to eat four servings myself

[…] from The First Mess. Makes 2-3 […]

MARIA MAROVICH11/11/2013 - 6:16 pm

a must make!

Carole18/01/2014 - 1:09 pm

Thank you, can’t wait to make this!

HomemadeMother29/01/2014 - 11:39 pm

Made this tonight and it was soooooo good! Thank you for sharing the recipe!!

[…] A Magic Healing Soup […]

[…] Tree Atlas. 4 // This MONK & LOU Rory Cocoon Blazer from Plen+y. 5 // This vegetable laden Magic Healing Soup from The First Mess. Just YUM. 6 // This Mexican Chocolate Sorbet from The Gouda Life. Try […]

Saskija21/05/2014 - 6:28 am

I’ve made this a few times and it gets better with practice. I didn’t have my usual brown rice miso paste until just last night. I made it for the first time with this ingredient and it really made a difference. So good and healing. Thank you!

[…] ‘Magic’ Healing Soup: The food-induced sweat diners experience from this soup helps to break a cold, while satiating the entire body with the taste of lemongrass, chilies, and other aromatics. Don’t believe in magic? You might with a bowl of this soup! See the Recipe Here […]

Melissa11/11/2014 - 11:17 pm

Thank you for this soup! Truly magical. I am so sick & this is the only thing that is saving me!!

a happy holiday ❤


Why? This is an important question to ask of everything you do. In my own life, if it doesn’t make my eyes go wide or bring me some kind of release, it has to go. I try to stay in the light, always inching towards brightness as a way of being. This very basic mantra applies itself easily to work endeavors, relationships, literature and music of choice, what I eat, awareness of my tone of voice at a given time, whether or not to risk driving way over the speed limit in a situation.. You get the idea. I try to move and speak with kindness whenever possible. It makes any confrontation with the big WHY a touch simpler.

The aspect of intention is something I think about often, especially with running this small space. Why a post on one particular recipe or ingredient? What does that say about my space in time? Can people relate? Is that important? Is it accessible? Should I say this? Is it better to say nothing at all? Is an expression of some deeply inner and unusual thing necessary? Is the specification of Mexican oregano douche-y? What is driving the visual component? Maybe that needs to be fleshed out or more inspired? What are we even doing here? …The second that I feel like I’m preaching to the converted or that everything is the same, I want to change it all, move away from the paradigm towards something that feels new and more productive.

So with the guiding idea of kindness and a general desire to dwell in the light, I want to make this space better. I know that I’m unworthy of being in a position of concern over the improvement of a personal and completely unnecessary thing that exists on the internet. It feels ridiculous, now as ever, but it does exist. And if it does exist, it should be as incredible as my own human achievement will allow. So I’ll be letting that thought marinate over the next couple weeks. It’s a mindful powering down in order to power-up sort of effort, if you will (I hope you will).

Be safe and warm over the holidays, friends. I’ll see you in the new year with a smile and something delicious to eat, I promise.

xoxo
Laura

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Winnie21/12/2012 - 1:21 pm

I hope someday that we get to meet…I think we would really get along since I can really relate to everything you said here. Have a happy holiday Laura ;)

Hannah21/12/2012 - 3:46 pm

May gratitude continue to carry you towards that light with grace dear Laura. Have happy holidays and see you on the other side :)

Clare22/12/2012 - 12:50 pm

Striving is the most basic human “why” there is. :) You provide something beautiful, with heart and thought, and that within itself is the closest to a “why” I’ve ever gotten. Happy, happy holidays…

sam23/12/2012 - 12:30 am

I think about intention every single day. It is a guiding principle, but something that I need to be reminded of. The ability to intend and create! Thank you for the beautiful blog post. Happy holidays.

amy23/12/2012 - 11:14 am

peace and luv 2 you, laura! <3
thanks for all you give in this space :)

Kasey23/12/2012 - 12:09 pm

I think, as humans, it is our responsibility to always strive to be better, and to try (as best we can) to live with intention. Just want you to know your space is always a place that makes me think, feel warm, and connected. Happy holidays to you, friend! xo

Kathryne24/12/2012 - 1:08 am

I’m so glad we met this summer, Laura. Your spirit just glows. The intention with which you produce your posts is so evident here, always. Keep on striving and happy holidays, friend.

Kathryn24/12/2012 - 12:51 pm

Happy holidays Laura, I look forward to seeing what amazingness you come up with in 2013.

sara27/12/2012 - 1:08 am

i love your space. thank you for being wonderful. happy holiday to you my dear!!

Elenore Bendel Zahn31/12/2012 - 5:01 am

You are so dear to my heart!