Chorba Vegetable Soup

Always searching for different soups to serve in oryoki, I stumbled upon this one. Chorba is a lovely spiced soup that comes in infinite variations all across the Balkans, North Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. This is a vegetarian version, of course. Sadly I didn’t have any vermicelli, but […]

Beet & Apple Soup

In 1991, we vacated the Zen Center in Bar Harbor US with the intention to help Kanzeon Sangha and Genpo Roshi set up an international Zen Center in Europe. Each of us carried a large cardboard box filled with inventory and delivered it to Brussels. While waiting for the next step we, along with several other sangha members, travelled to Poland to a beautiful grand […]

Cold Melon Summer Soup

Cold Melon Summer Soup came about after having recently tasted something like this in Alicante.  Marisa and the Zen River Madrid group had invited me to join them for a couple of days and Baruc had prepared it for a late lunch. It was divine; a sort of Ajo Blanco. The recipe intrigued me, almost as much as it […]

Silk Road Lentil Soup

Tenkei just told me he almost never takes second servings in the zendo during oryoki meals, but this time he did. Apparently he wasn’t the only one either. He often says how much he loves the flavours of Middle-Eastern cuisine. This soup reminds me of one they once served in an Mediterranean restaurant in Groningen, whose menu […]

Orange, Banana & Lychee Compote

During a busy sesshin with forty people, I accidentally discovered that slicing the oranges and lychees the night before and letting them marinate with the lychee syrup and lemon juice taste even better than serving them immediately. All the flavours mingle into the yummy syrup. The bananas mingle well too, becoming soft and oozy, but don’t expect them to […]

Carrot & Apple Soup

Margaret, a sangha member from the US, drops in once a year for Rohatsu sesshin. One time, she was helping me in the kitchen as I was preparing soup for the evening meal. There were lots of carrots on the counter, but was uncertain which way the soup wanted to go. Dill, curry, red pepper, coriander? She […]

Red Miso Soup

This soup echoes the distant days spent in training at Toshoji temple in Japan, where meals are traditionally served on long, low, narrow tables with 7 to 14 monks /guests kneeling either side, one big soup pot in the middle and a rice cooker perched on the tatami mat floor. The navigation skill it took to pass the soup bowls […]

Carrot, Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

“Family Week” is an annual event in the summer that Zen River has been hosting since 2005. Ten years on, some of the families who came then still come now. Together, they practice how to sit zazen (meditate), chant the sutras during services and eat oryoki style meals – all mixed in with theatre plays, stage sets and costumes, painting, […]

White Mushroom Soup

The one time of year I make a “white” mushroom soup always seem to fall on Christmas Eve. We serve it during the special dinner we make for the small band of merry warriors that stay at Zen River over the festive season. Funnily enough, the only reason I prepare it then is because that’s what our dad used to make every Christmas Eve while […]

Parsnip Bisque

In the late 90’s, I was once browsing a colourful recipe book called Weddings, or something like that. It might have been written by a celebrity chef named Martha Stewart, but I’m not entirely sure, and it had been lent to the Zen Center kitchen. Who knows why? Maybe there was a big wedding afoot… Amidst the curlicues and […]