Cooking brings us together via recipes passed down through generations and different cultures. The act of cooking and sharing a meal can unite us, even in a virtual sense. That is, essentially, why this site exists. It’s a way to learn and understand through something we do every day. I’ve been struggling to stay connected to this space without bringing in current events because cooking, to me, is a way to bring everyone together, even during a time of division. To ignore politics in the realm of food feels too surface, too insincere.
The United States is a country continually shaped by immigrants and refugees. This is most noticeable in the food we eat and the recipes we make. The recipes I create are a melting pot of flavors and cultures. I find it important to keep this in mind, especially when we, as a nation, are beginning to literally and figuratively wall ourselves off. I urge, in this time, that it is all hands on deck. Educate yourself on the issues that matter to you.
Get involved. Join groups, call your representatives, donate to organizations like the ACLU, and help fight for rights of those whose voice may not be heard. We may not always agree on what we’re fighting for but my hope is that food will continue to bring us all together in a way nothing else can.
This particular recipe is from the Taste of Persia cookbook, a beautiful cookbook highlighting recipes from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan. Cookbooks can be a wonderful start to diving into a culture you might not understand. The stories in this book (along with others like Cooking a Home, Soup for Syria, and Delights from the Garden of Eden) have all helped in my journey. It’s a small start, but one that’s been extremely enlightening.
I’ll leave you with a quote, found in the foreword of Cooking a Home. It hit me fairly hard and one I think applies globally:
“Our challenge as Syrians, but also as fellow inhabitants on this planet is to turn our world into a large kitchen, in which we feed the needy, resolve conflict around tables with words and coffee –and not with grenades and bombs— and fill our pantries with tools and nourishment that would raise our youth— and not with chemical weapons and poison gas.”
– Afra Jalabi
Dried Apricot Soup with Emmer
A hearty wheat berry soup with a base of dried thyme, mint, and tart apricots. The soup comes from southern Georgia and is found in the cookbook, Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
- 1 cup emmer (farro) rinsed well
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups unsalted or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups tart dried apricots chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1" cubes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint to taste
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, basil, and parsley chopped
- Feta, for topping
Heat a large cast iron or regular pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil followed by the onions. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the onions are fragrant and translucent.
Add the emmer, stir to coat, and cook for a minute. Add in water and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add the apricots to the pot, cover, and let cook until the emmer and apricots start to soften, 30 minutes or so (see note).
Stir in the potatoes along with the dried herbs, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and add more seasoning as desired.
Serve the soup with fresh herbs and sprinkle of feta.
Tips & Tricks: As noted above, the recipe is from Taste of Persia but is written exactly as I made it. I recommend checking out the cookbook for all the possible options for herbs and toppings.
Also, I've made this with California apricots since they tend to be more on the tart side (and dried tart apricots can be hard to find).