In the midst of Passover, we couldn't have been more excited to recieve a copy of chef Lévana Kirschenbaum's latest delicious cookbook, The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen. (Amazing timing, we know!)
Recently having closed Lévana Restaurant after 32 years of business in Manhattan's Upper West Side, Kirschenbaum shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to helping people learn and enjoy the benefits of cooking healthy, nutritious (and delicious!) whole foods. Known for being a pioneer in kosher upscale dining, Kirschenbaum is the author of three additional cookbooks, hosts a variety of cooking demos and classes around the country (some in her own Manhattan apartment), and she's in the process of developing her own line of all-natural spelt desserts.
The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen, cited as Kirschenbaum's magnum opus, is filled to the brim with great family meal ideas, and features an inspirational tone that will encourage even the most unsure of home cooks to tackle the easy-to-make recipes. Offering more than 350 recipes for marinades, soups, salads, main dishes, breakfast, desserts, and beyond, this volume also features a handy comprehensive index, along with targeted indexes for gluten-free readers and Passover eats. (When we say volume, we do mean volume!)
In the cookbook's introduction, Kirschenbaum offers her own personal stories behind why she's made the lifestyle choice to cook with whole foods, and how her ongoing devotion to healthy eating can always be traced back to her like-minded mother. After being hospitalized a few years ago, she struggled to find solutions that would help her body feel better again — that's when she realized that by channeling her mother's ideals, she was able to find the answers from within:
In my despair, I remembered my mother's familiar lines which, after sounding much too good to be true all these long years, finally reasserted themselves: "Just open your refrigerator!" and "The cure is in the pot!"... I was excited to re-explore the whole spectrum of foods, this time focusing on cooking as a means to healing by using the darkest greens, the reddest fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and seaweed. In three short months, I felt wonderful and shed ten pesky extra pounds I had been lugging around, courtesy of having recently joined the club of middle-agers!
In addition to offering up plenty of encouraging words and inspiration for those who are hoping to cook with whole foods in their own kitchens, Kirschenbaum shares great tips for real-life situations: navigating the grocery store, foods and ingredients to avoid, her own successful dieting tools, and much more. To learn more about the The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen and Kirshenbaum's work, visit her website, levanacooks.com.
And, with Passover in mind, we've got a delicious sneak peek just for you! Read on for Kirschenbaum's homemade recipe for gluten-free, kosher chicken vegetable soup — perfect for the holiday week, spring rainy days, or when you're just in need of a little nutritious warm-up. Bon appétit!
Chicken Vegetable Soup
Makes a dozen ample servings
I am giving you here a variation my mother lives on almost daily — chicken soup as a meal: Nothing gets discarded. It’s the best! If you would rather use chicken breasts, then add 1∕3 cup olive oil to the pot.
1 large onion, quartered
1 large bunch dill, fronds and stems
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
8 ribs celery, peeled
1 large carrot
1 large sweet potato
1 large parsnip
1 large turnip
1 large zucchini
12 chicken thighs, skins off
1 tsp. turmeric
2 good pinches saffron
5-6 bay leaves, or 1 tsp. ground
Salt to taste
Put three quarts (12 cups) water to boil in a large pot. While water is heating, coarsely grind the onion, dill, parsley and celery in a food processor. Throw the ground mixture in the pot. Grate all vegetables in a food processor, and add to the soup with all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook covered one hour. Adjust texture and seasonings.
Note: For a nicer presentation, take out the thighs, discard the bones, dice the meat, and return to the pot. Or simply use boneless thighs: Your butcher will do it for you.