For Harvest Soup:
1 ¾ cups blanched almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups carrot juice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt

For Monks Bowl:
1 cup kale, raw and chopped (may blanch if desired) or 1 cup baby spinach
1 cup brown rice, cooked or 1 cup quinoa, steamed
1 avocado, chopped
½ cup butternut squash, roasted
¼ cup dried cranberries


For Harvest Soup:

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender to creamy smooth.  Find the rest of the recipe here:

For Monks Bowl:

Two versions of a Monk's Bowl:

1. Put raw, chopped kale into a deep soup bowl.  Layer steamed brown rice on top.  Pour Harvest soup over all, and top with a scoop of roasted butternut squash.  Finish with dried cranberries.

2. Put chopped baby spinach into a deep soup bowl.  Layer with steamed quinoa.  Pour Harvest soup over all, and top with chopped avocado.

Recipe courtesy of Robert Reid, The Organic Café, 2011.

Monk's Bowls, layers of fresh greens and grains draped in a flavorful soup, and topped with anything seasonal from chopped avocado to dried cranberries, are always on the menu at The Organic Cafe in Beverly, served with a ladle of Buddhist history.

In the Buddhist religion monks rise and silently walk the streets in the morning, while lay - people step forward to spoon foods into their bowls, an honor - not charity - to feed the community who in turn will serve them spiritually. The monks receive the food in silence, as words disturb the nature of their meditative prayer.  Naturally, the alms gradually layer deeper and deeper in their bowls as the monks proceed.

Robert Reid opened the Organic Garden Cafe in Beverly, MA in December 1999.  An accountant with a Boston rock and roll band (The Revolvers), Reid had turned to vegetarianism and holistic living after watching his thirty-ish sister-in-law suffer with breast cancer, a tragedy that violently demanded Reid and his brother re-examine western lifestyle.

Grasping at options for his relative, who eventually succumbed to the disease, Reid permanently embraced the Buddhist practices that had helped his sister-in-law at the end of her life.  A turned career towards healing led him to open the cafe, still a busy restaurant on Cabot St. today.

Four years into the business, buried in creating recipes, menus, and business plans, Reid had felt spent.  A customer recommended he attend a meditation retreat in Shelburne, MA.  Reid signed up for ten 8-hour days of silence and meditation, a rigorous course in tuning up one’s center.  Meals were beautiful there, Reid reported, and served buffet style so that anyone could enjoy as much as they liked.  One walked directly from the meditation hall to the dining room, from a highly sensitized mind right to feeding one's body, which Reid said he tried with the awareness and clarity he’d sought in meditation.

After a second or third return visit to the center, Reid noticed that the older students didn’t pile their plates full of different elements from the buffet, but instead filled one bowl with all they needed.  Something about this style of dining, containing the entire meal in one bowl held between cupped hands, resonated.  It was a simple, non-distracting way to focus on the beauty of dinner.  Reid had arrived at his own version of the monk’s morning alms, and has been serving it - with seasonal adaptations -  in his restaurant ever since.  Always beginning with greens and grains, sometimes he ladles corn chowder into the bowl, and tops it with homemade falafel.  Sometimes he ladles vegetarian chile over all, and finishes with diced portobello mushroom burger.

The Organic Garden serves vegetarian, vegan and raw breakfasts, lunches and dinner.  They make a wide assortment of nutritious smoothies made to order (no boxed, pre-mixes), and have a broad dessert case which includes both cooked sweets and hard-to-find raw cookies and bars.  I adore anything with coconut, dates and nuts, so, heedless of heat, I endorse the latter freshly-made desserts.  Everything from salads to the monks bowls is produced with the care and thoughtfulness, with the earnest attention to nutrition and beauty, that Reid seems to seek in his life. As in any credible monk tradition, organic wines, beers and sake are served, too.

Here is a recipe for two autumn versions of the Monk’s Bowl, an infinitely adaptable culinary principle of dining simply but beautifully, the source of one’s daily energy held between cupped hands.

Reid serves the Harvest Soup as a raw food, but it can also be gently heated and served hot.
by Heather Atwood, Food for Thought

Monks Bowl
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