Well hello my darlings. It’s been awhile because I have retreated to Ibiza for a month. What? you say? Yes Ibiza! And Yes a MONTH! But it’s not all fun and games as you might expect on the famous party island. I am here to behave like a proper adult and work. Well, if that’s what you’d call chopping some onions, garlic and tomato and figs and frying them in beautiful local olive oil.
But seriously, I am here with my pal Willemien van Egmond from Retreat Yourself who again managed to organise two wonderful bliss filled retreats. Plus get them fully booked months ahead of time! No wonder. If you like yoga, if you like sunshine, if you like beaches, hippies, authentic finca’s with breathtaking views and are a bracelet junky like I am, this is the place to be. And if that wasn’t enough to get you running to your ipad to book that ticket, on top of it all I am cooking! Every day, every waking hour. Feeding you blissful healthy bites until you scream “Stop!”. Oke, I’m exaggerating just a tiny bit now. But that’s what being on this superlative ridden island does to a sensible gal.
Ibiza is many things to many different people. A “anything goes twenty four seven party and drugs walhalla” to some. A spiritual haven with good vibrations and powerful prana to others. To me it’s the place where I got my freedom wings. Quite literally. Last year this time I cooked my first retreat here days after giving up the day job and jumped head first into this adventure called The Soul Food Company that is now known as my life.
Because I had been flirting with the idea of being an entrepeneur and worked as a freelance chef on the side I did have somewhat of an idea of what to expect. However nothing could have prepared me for the roller coaster I found myself on this past year. It has been exhilirating, fast moving, scary, super fun, intimidating and full on. I have been priviliged enough to meet the most interesting people in the world while doing my job. And have had the even bigger pleasure to cook for them. I’ve travelled and done what I love to do on oppisite sides of the globe and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been quite the ride and in many ways I have been to hell and back.
So here I am, back where I started. Just a mere 12 months ago. With some more experience under my belt, a few (but one of a kind) new friends, some budding grey hairs and zero regrets. I am totally flabberghasted when people email me asking for advice on how to start their own business. You’re asking me? If I knew I would have given it to myself years ago! All I can tell you is if you really, really, really (it has to be three times otherwise it doesn’t count) feel passionate about something you have to go and do it and than keep at it. Come what may. Try things out, don’t be afraid to admit when something is not working. Try something else. Surround yourself with good people. It happens naturally when you are being the best version of yourself you can be. Don’t pretend to be brave when you are not. Crying is oke, just don’t overdo it and get back in the game as soon as you can. Make taking time for yourself a priority. No happy you, no happy business. And my very very last but most important piece of advice. Don’t ask anyone for advice! Well, let me rephrase that just a little bit. Ask people you trust for advice if you feel like you want to but always, always, always (yes, I can have autistic tendencies…) make your own decisions. Be it based on your own logic or on your gut instinct. Or in the best case scenario on a combination of both. In your heart you and only you know what’s best for you. So accept that, act on it and I can guarantee you you will be flying your own freedom flight soon. See you in the sky!
So what does all this freedom talk have to do with the recipe? Nothing really, other than that this soup is on the menu for the retreats in Ibiza and I was in the sharing mood. Traditional Ayurveda uses very little tomatoes. It is said that the skin and seeds can be hard to digest for Vata and the sour taste upsets Pitta and Kapha when taken in access. I found a solution for that by using organic passata which is basiccally very sweet and thick tomato juice. The skin and seeds have been sieved out of it. And I combine it with dried figs which are a super food of sort in Ayurvedic realms and are found locally in Ibiza. Trust me, the combination elevates an average Joe type of tomato soup to a funky, hippy meditterenean inspired type of briliant red deliciousness in a bowl. But don’t just take my word for it. Make it and be your own judge!
All three types can enjoy this soup on occasion.
Based on a recipe by Maria Elia
Tomato and dried fig soup (4 people)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion finely diced
1 garlic finely chopped
a dice of skinned ginger
1 red bell pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
some chilli flakes to taste
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
325 ml pasata
325 ml hot water
1 tablespoon coconut blossom sugar
70 gr dried figs chopped in chunks and soaked in 225 ml water. (Keep the soaking liquid to add to the soup).
Heat the olive oil in a medium soup pan. Gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger til the onion is translucent. Now add the diced bell pepper and cook for a minute or two. Add the spices and fry until fragrant. Finally add the pasata, hot water, coconut blossom sugar and the dried figs including their soaking liquid. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the figs have softened some more and the flavours have blended. Take off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Leave the bay leaf in though. (I know it sounds weird, but it really works). Blender the soup with an immersion blender till really smooth. The soup will have a quite thick consistency. You can thin it a little with some more water if you wish, but it is supposed to be rather thick. Serve in individual bowls garnished with a slice of dried fig, some rucola and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Serve with grilled bread spread with pistachio pesto or avocado slices topped with some hennep seeds.