Earlier this week I had the honour of volunteering at Holy Blossom Temple to help organize an amazing group of women make soup for the Bikur Cholim Committee. The evening was organized by my sister-in-law Jill Hertzman, along with a dedicated group of volunteers. Today's post is by Jill.
Guest post by Jill Hertzman:
Was it because our pot was too large? Did we fill it with too much water? Was the burner working properly? In the end, it did come to a boil, but the hour was late and Marla was mopping her worried brow. Actually, there were four very large pots of the most delicious mushroom barley and yellow split pea soup, colourful and fragrant.
Our 6th Annual Holy Blossom Temple Bikur Cholim Soup Brigade was held on November 10, 2014, with Marla as our returning chef. For the record, Marla has attended all the soup nights, led two, and has cooked for our committee for many years.
Bikur Cholim means visiting the sick, and in Jewish tradition it is an “obligation without measure whose reward too is without measure”. One of the ways we do this mitzvah is to prepare soup and fill our synagogue’s freezer (a tight fit this year as we made 125 500 ml containers). Then we always have on hand some nourishment to offer to congregants who are frail, elderly, or unwell, or to those families in crisis.
There were 20 of us chopping, seasoning, stirring, and tasting. And there was food for the mind, too. Rabbi Michael Satz led us in text study, a chapter from the Code of Jewish Law, which details the proper way to visit so there is dignity, sanctity, and comfort. These guidelines are over a hundred and fifty years old, yet very relevant for today.
There is no doubt that you will enjoy the recipes -- in good health, we hope.
Here is the link to Holy Blossom’s Bikur Cholim if you would like to know more.
Past blog posts from Holy Blossom's soup night:
Yellow Split Pea Soup
Yield: About 6-8 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 cups water or vegetable broth
- 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups dried yellow split peas, rinsed
- 1/2 t. salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 t. ground red pepper (optional)
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill or parsley
- In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and pepper; cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
- Stir in split peas and broth or water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 40 minutes or until peas are very tender.
- Transfer 1 to 2 cups of the soup solids to food processor. Add a bit of water if to thick and purée until smooth.
- Return purée to saucepan and stir in the dill.
- Simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes to blend the flavors, and thinning soup with water if too thick. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.
- Serve sprinkled with more dill or parsley.
Mushroom Barley Soup
Yield: About 6 to 8 servings
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms, (brown or white or a combination)
- 6 cups water of vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup barley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook and stir for 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
- Stir in mushrooms and continue to cook for a few minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth or water, barley, salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 50 minutes.
- Add the spinach.
- Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.