Yield: Serves 4 to 6
Soundtrack: "I Can't Stand the Rain" by Ann Peebles from Brand New Classics
Working on my first book, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, was a deeply spiritual process for me. I often tell close friends how the book was written through me. Inspired by a technique described in Manifest Your Destiny by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, I strove to meditate or do yoga before I sat down to write or come up with recipe ideas for Grub. I wasn't disciplined enough to do this every single time that I worked on the book; but when I did, it put the process less in my hands and more in the hands of unseen forces. When I was truly still, a flood of ideas rushed into my mind. So many, in fact, if I didn't write them down as soon as I finished my practice I would forget half of them.
I have been engaging in a similar process as I work on my next book. As I was meditating last week, I had an image of the book starting with a prayer-song giving thanks for all the food that we have to eat. Every time I sit down for a meal I express gratitude for all the forces that helped bring the food to my plate: the natural elements, farmers, farmhands, transporters, chefs, kitchen assistants, and servers in many cases. I want to encourage others to do so as well.
So I asked my Uncle Don Bryant (my first name is my mother's maiden name) if he would compose an original prayer-song to contribute to my next book. He said yes!
Uncle Don was a well-known songwriter-singer in the 1970s. He was the staff songwriter at Hi Records, and he penned a slew of hits for that label's artists (i.e., Al Green, Willie Mitchell, and Ann Peebles). His most celebrated songs were written for his wife Ann Peebles. You know that song "I Can't Stand the Rain"—which was covered by over 30 artists including Cassandra Wilson, Michael Bolton, Tina Turner, and sampled by Missy Elliot for her first big hit— well Uncle Don wrote it.
To show my gratitude, I created this soup in his honor.
Bryant Terry is an award-winning eco-chef, food justice activist, and Food and Society Policy Fellow. He co-authored Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (Tarcher/Penguin), and he is the author of the forthcoming Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African American Cuisine (Da Capo/Perseus March 2009).