“More Soup For You!”

menu board chicken 4

It has been a hectic summer at Loyola House with retreat after retreat full … of familiar faces and friendly new faces. The farm has been showering us with delicious, nutritious and fascinating produce despite the wretched distribution of precipitation.  Our new team is settling in like they’ve been here forever.  We now are preparing to say goodbye briefly to Autumn G. who is going on maternity leave.  It’s a bittersweet occasion … we will miss her madly but are madly excited about meeting her new daughter Hannah – when she arrives!  We also look forward to working with Shirley who will be with us as Autumn adjusts to new motherhood.

Last month I promised a departing retreatant that I would post a recipe … apologies that it has taken so long!


Sauté until soft but not coloured….

¼ c coconut oil

2 lb carrots, peeled (or just scrubbed!) and sliced thinly

3 T grated fresh ginger

2 c diced onion

1 c sliced celery

1 T garlic

Add …

4c veg stock or water or apple cider

Cook until carrots are very soft.

Puree to desired texture … silky smooth or chunky – both have their own charm.

Season with…

salt, pepper, lemon juice. .. and maybe just a dash of hot sauce to wake up your taste buds!

Serve garnished with crème fraiche (or sour cream or yoghurt) and chopped cilantro (if desired).

We love soup.  We love to make it, we love to eat it.  We don’t always love taking pictures of it; it is often so monochromatic … so here is a memory of early summer Salade Nicoise.

nicoise 6

I am told that the Taste of Italy dinner on September 28 is sold out already!  We are looking forward hosting you all again.  If you missed out on a chance at tickets, be consoled with the knowledge that we will be doing another series of dinners next year … The Taste of Diversity!  They are such a good time and for such a good cause.

Until next time, take care of yourselves … so you can take care of others.  ❤




September’s “Taste of Italy” Celebration.

T o I sept

On Wednesday night, Loyola House hosted 2015’s third and final “Taste of Italy” fundraising dinners.  It was a warm and heart-warming time, like having 85 of your closest friends over for supper.  In this case, we had 27 new friends as well, the Anglican Church of Canada was here for a “Stronger Together” retreat … so they joined in the festivities!

Thanks to everyone who came … and ate … and hugged and sang!  Thank you, Moses, for the ever-popular music.

I would like to make a very passionate, grateful “thank you” to our amazing volunteers … Vicki and the indefatigable Olga – who did most of the cooking, Jerome (who did most of the dishes!), Dan and my baby sisters, Chris and Julie, who showed up to help out and did all that was necessary … including some of my thinking for me!

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of a truly astonishing staff … Michele, Ryan, Theresa and Autumn!  We fit together like cogs in a machine … complementing each other’s talents, helping each other keep spinning.  Thank you.

These dinners have gone so well and have been so much fun that we’ll probably do something similar next year, so be warned … book your tickets early!!


TOMATO FENNEL SOUP (one of our favourites!)

Sauté until soft but uncoloured….

1 c sliced onion

1 bulbs fennel – sliced thinly and attractively

1 T toasted fennel seed

2 T minced garlic

1 c sliced celery


1 large (100 oz) can of whole (organic, Canadian)  tomatoes – break them up with your hands, take out bits of skin and stem scars then strain away as many seeds as you can and add up to a can more of water

Simmer until fennel is soft. 

Adjust seasoning with

2 T rice wine vinegar or lime juice (my favourite!)

2 T maple syrup

2 T dried Tarragon

Salt, pepper, hot sauce as desired

As with most soups … this is better on the second (and third) day.


Take care of each other … ❤

T o I dessert

(just as a side note – and to exasperate my mother – in two years, both of my baby sisters will be eligible for “senior” prices in some places!   How time does run away with us!!)

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.

July is evaporating!


This Watermelon-Cucumber Salad will keep you cool in the fierce heat we have been experiencing!  I notice that a year (less a day) ago we posted another photo of this salad by a different cook and a different photographer.  I find it interesting to see how different the interpretations of the same recipe can be!  Of course, this year the kitchen herb garden is a year more established (and has had the loving attentions of our amazing gardening volunteers) and has produced the lovely lavender flowers apparent above.  We are also producing our own chives, sage, thyme, lovage, rose petals, bay leaves, mint…. a cornucopia of herbs! 

Here is another excellent way to beat the heat … tastefully.


Chilly Dilly Tomato Soup

 Puree until smooth …

4 c canned tomatoes

2 T roasted garlic

Add …

2 c water or vegetable stock

1 c dill pickle brine

¼ c chopped dill

2/3 c thinly sliced green onion

1 c finely diced celery (inner ribs are best)

1 c finely diced cucumber

1 c finely grated summer squash (zucchini)

1 t hot sauce

1 T honey

3 T lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Let the soup sit covered in the fridge overnight and adjust seasoning.

Other vegetables you have in abundance can be chopped finely and added to this soup.  Best enjoyed on a patio with a good view ….