A New Year Dawns!

cauli salad1 - cropped

2015 is starting with some (quiet) excitement for Loyola House!  We have a new 34 day silent retreat going on … mostly made up of a wonderful bunch of Jesuit novices from Canada and the United States.  The only frustration is that we don’t get to talk (and listen!) to them for another two weeks.  These long retreats are a bit grueling for a relatively small kitchen staff and 23 days into the retreat we are getting to the point of muttering to each other “But they’ve had that already!  What can we make that they haven’t already eaten?!”.   So far, though, no one has complained …  (a little silent retreat joke there).

We had a request from a past attendee for the recipe for a soup that they had enjoyed while at Loyola House.  I am excited to share recipes but this one is so simple that it is embarrassing to publish.


Parsnip Pear Soup

Saute in 2 T coconut oil …

2 c rough cut onion

1 c sliced celery

When the vegetables are limp, turn down the heat and let them cook low and slow, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to colour.

Add …

6 c parsnips – peeled and sliced

3 c water

3 c apple cider

Bring to a boil, lid and simmer until the parsnips are very soft (about 25 minutes).

Add …

3 c peeled pear pieces

Simmer a further 5 minutes.

Cool slightly, then puree until the texture is silky smooth …. adding more water or cider if necessary to thin it out.

This soup won’t need much flavour adjustment, but you can add as desired…

1/2 t salt

2 T lemon juice

2 T maple syrup

1/2 t nutmeg

a dash of hot sauce (not enough to taste, just enough to stimulate the taste buds)


We are using more coconut oil for cooking these days.  It is extremely temperature resistant so that it doesn’t break down under heat as some other oils do – with possible carcinogenic results.  It does have a more pronounced flavour than other oils, but it is perfect for this soup.

We use frozen pears for this recipe.  During the year, if we get pears that are damaged or simply too ripe for the fruit basket, we quarter and peel them, drop them briefly into a water bath with a couple of spoons of lemon juice added (to prevent the pears from browning) and then pop them into the freezer on a tray lined with parchment paper (the cook’s best friend).  When the pears are frozen, they can be bagged and they come in very handy for baking, sauces, soups or even a quick dessert.

The first of our three special “Taste of Italy” dinners is coming up in quickly.  It will be held on February 11 and the theme is “Carnivale!“.  Luckily I have the help of some amazing experts on Northern Italian culture and cuisine to guide me … I will share some of their insights next post.

Hope to see you there … take care of each other!  Ciao.