Moxy and Beetroot Soup with Tempeh Croutons

Lest you think that I hold court in my kitchen with any semblance of pretentious type-A foodie-ism, behold — the humble 30 minute improv dinner.

Making do with existing ingredients is one of my very favorite games, mainly because I’m physically incapable of following recipes to a  T. My hands get restless and grabby, they add this and they add that, and the resulting dish is a freak of nature, a random stroke of good luck, and completely bespoke. I think that anyone can successfully play this game armed with good food intuition and the bits/bobs in their pantry. Now that’s moxy. Shall I show you what I mean?

In this particular scenario, I scrounge up two and a half wrinkly beetroots, a leek, several tiny potatoes and a sweet potato from the various kitchen nooks where they’ve been lurking. I saute the leek with one onion and three cloves of garlic (an indispensable, absolute non-negotiable in my kitchen) in some coconut oil in a heavy soup pot. I peel the beets, sweet potato and tiny potatoes, cube them and add them to the pot with enough water to comfortably cover everything. My eyes scan the shelf and latch onto one of the stacked glass jars – yellow lentils! Two generous handfuls join the pot. A flash rainshower of caraway seeds follows.

While everything is bubbling and getting tender, I spy a block of tempeh loitering in the back of the refrigerator and cube it on a whim. Pan-fried in a bit of coconut oil, the cubes turn crispy and golden-brown. When the veg in the soup pot is tender, I swirl in a small can of coconut cream and give everything a thorough blitz with the immersion blender. Salt, black pepper, lemon juice, now we’re talking! I serve with a swirl of cream (coconut milk, cashew cream, or yogurt would have done, too…do whatever the moxy tells you to do) and a sprinkle of the glorious salty tempeh croutons. DONE.

Do you play this silly game too? Please make me feel better by telling me the last clever thing you made with scrounged ingredients, moxy, and a ticking clock…