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

I'm with Rob Reid from the Organic Cafe in Beverly. Hi, Rob.

Hi, Heather.

Thanks for coming.

You're welcome.

So what are you going to make today?

Today, we're making the monk's bowl. It's a great meal. First thing we put down on the bottom of a monk's bowl is the greens. It's great to mix them up, because every type of green is offering something slightly different to the body.

Romaine, spinach, and kale. To work with the kale, we could dice up the stem, but I think it's going to be nicer if we just strip away the larger part of the stem. This is raw kale.

So we'll use raw kale in this bowl.

We could steam the kale if we wanted to, lightly steam it. The trick we often do at the restaurant, and that's we blanch things. We scrunch it together after we've striped the stem, and then we just-- and chiffonade, by the way, is French for rags. So it's sort of like you're making little rag cuts.

They look like little rags, too.

Little rags, yeah. So I'm trying to go like a quarter of an inch or so away from the last cut.

So about a half a cup per serving?

Half a cup's fine. If you were to blanch it or steam it, then you could double. You could get twice the amount of kale into the bowl. 'Cause it will shrink a lot, actually, if it's blanched or steamed.

We're using baby spinach. Any baby greens are more tender and easier to digest. We're going to use quinoa and brown rice. And they're very easy to make at home. We put about a cup. A cup of a grain is a decent serving.

Mm, yeah.

We actually do quite a few mixes as well. People will go with the quinoa/rice mix. And that's very nice.

Yeah, that would have been nice.

Next comes either the soup or the sauce. Something that's going to give flavor. The soup will act as a dressing and the sauce.

And it's hot, the soup?

Yep. Yeah, generally. All right. So this is the soup that we made in another video, our harvest soup.

And what is in here?

An almond cream and carrot and lemon, with ginger.

And cumin?

And cumin. You smelled the cumin.

Yeah, oh, that smells wonderful.

And there's a little nutritional yeast, olive oil, and some sea salt.

So that's going to add all the flavor to this.

Yep. We can use about a cup. And if we did not have a soup, we could just use a dressing, a favorite sauce.

I started going to a meditation center. And when I was out there meditating in silence and going to the dining hall, I just noticed that eating food in a bowl and not like a smorgasbord on a plate, but just the simplicity of everything in one bowl, was a really great way to just bring your awareness and your focus into the meal and just kind of keep it there.

And of course, I ended up also reading later on that that's exactly how monks eat. Monks travel with a bowl. They go from household to household. This is called alms-giving. Stand in front of the door, put out the bowl, and they gratefully accept whatever is given to them in their bowl.

Oh, that's so sweet. That's a nice story.

One of the bowls is going to get some butternut squash and some cranberries. So we'll just give you a nice portion here. Somewhere around 3 ounces is a nice portion. These are dried cranberries here, yeah. So they're sweetened with apple juice, actually. Apple juice-sweetened dried cranberries.

The nice thing about avocados is that you can get the pit out real easily with just a little trick. Most people probably know this, but in case anybody doesn't, once you've cut in half, just take your knife and you bang it into the pit. Give it a little turn.

I didn't know that.

And the pit pops right out. I'm going to just slice right into the avocado while it's still in the shell, and just do a little crisscross pattern. Now when I run the spoon along the edge of the avocado, we just get those chunks to fall out. And spread them out on the top of the bowl. I love avocado.

They're so good for you, right?

Yeah, I mean I know so many people that when they go vegetarian or even vegan, avocado becomes like their favorite food on the planet, right?

Right, right. So bon appetit?

Bon appetit.

Here's to those brilliant monks.


So I'm going to go down, 'cause I want a little bit of the kale.

Yeah, you can dig down. You can try to get a little cross-section all t once.

Right, exactly. It's like--

Get a little bit of spinach.

It's a layered soup.

A little bit of rice.

Mmm. It's beautiful. The quinoa with that soup is delicious. So thank you very much. This is so delicious. And I'll see at the cafe.

I look forward to it.

All right, good.

Monks Bowl
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