Something strange has been happening in the last couple of months. Substack introduced a new function called ‘Pledges’ which allows free subscribers to pledge to become a paid subscriber, when and if I turn on paid subscriptions and lo and behold, I started receiving messages with plegdes! Wasn’t expecting that at all…
Karen from Melbourne said:
"Your recipes delight and inspire me and I would like to support you with this contribution to your e-newsletter." (omg, thank you Karen ❤️)
“I want to learn more ways to cook with and serve vegetables.” (gosh, that is music to my ears!)
I got pledges from Holly, Colleen, Sarah, Laura, Karianna and many, many more. And writer and veg lover Elissa Altman, who authors the brilliant, pledged her support because “I would crawl over broken glass to eat your food”.
So as always, inspired by my community, I have decided to bite the bullet, and launch paid subscriptions. It’s kinda a scary step for me as I have always believed that this space should be for all but rest assured, this free newsletter as you read it here will always remain free, but the paid subscriber area will be crafted to be a bit more intimate. Read below on how I think it will evolve.
Most of all, I want to thank YOU for pushing me to do this. It’s a really exciting step to be taking and I have no expectations for how many people will upgrade to paid, but if you’d like to be a part of my CHOY LOVE CLUB, I’d love to have you.
THE FUTURE OF TO VEGETABLES, WITH LOVE
As I enter this new phase of this newsletter, this is how I see things panning out. I’m also giving myself the latitude to chop and change as things evolve, as I work out what my community wants out of this newsletter. A huge part of recipe writers like me having our own newsletter is control and the ability to develop recipes the way we want to, using the ingredients we want, without the need for editorial control, SEO demands and what’s trendy. To me, this newsletter feels like unedited storytelling, kinda like MTV Unplugged, for those of you old enough to remember what that is.
Ongoing monthly posts, with news, recipe links and original recipes
CHOY LOVE CLUB Paid Subscriber — Upgrade to $5 monthly or $50 annually:
All free subscription posts
Occasional virtual community gathering get-togethers and giveaways
Paid subscriber only events such as virtual gatherings, Q&A’s, moderated talks and cooking classed
Subscriber chats, via Substack app
Access to the full archive
Founding Member — Contribute $150 annually to boost me if you wish:
All paid subscription benefits
Handwritten thank you note and special gift from Hetty xx
What does Choy Love Club mean?
Choy means ‘vegetables’ in Cantonese.
A note: for those pre-ordered Tenderheart during the Australian pre-order campaign, you will remember that a limited 6 month subscription to Choy Love Club was a part of your reward. If that was you, your name has already been added and you will have access to Choy Love Club for 6 months. Offer is available to Australian preorders only, which were processed prior to Australian release.
To Vegetables, With Love Stats
I’m not really a stats person and I rarely look at analytics, but the other day, I delved into Substacks stats to see who is reading this newsletter. The results were super interesting:
To Vegetables, With Love is read across 50 US states and 101 countries.
The highest percentage of readers comes from California, then NYC. I shouldn’t be, but I was surprised by this!
The United States leads as the country with the most subscribers, closely followed by Australia. Again, another surprise! But I love that my audience has grown so much all over the world. The community gets larger.
The post with the most clicks was last month’s when I gifted links to my NYT recipes. I hear you loud and clear, you like it! I’ll try and do this as often as my personal subscription to the app allows.
And back to regular programming…
News this month.
This new recipe just went live over at ABC Everyday. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure vegetarian bean chilli, and it comes with a rather hilarious memory of when we first moved to America and I had no idea what a chilli was…
Eater released their list of The 12 Best Cookbooks of Spring 2023 and I’m so honored that Tenderheart was included. The write up made me emotional too. Thank you Eater.
It also made it onto Simply Recipes The 20 Most Exciting New Cookbooks of Spring 2023, along with 19 other excellent books.
Next month, I’ll be finally and officially launching the pre-order campaign for the US / International Edition of Tenderheart and everyone who has purchased will be able to claim to bonus offer. Don’t worry, plenty of time to pre-order, but if you’d like to get ahead, purchase via links here: USA, Canada, UK, Everywhere else
THIS MONTH’S RECIPE
Carrot and sun-dried tomato soup with tahini and harissa chickpeas
This month, I’m sharing an outtake from Tenderheart. While Tenderheart has almost 200 recipes and is 500 pages long, I still had a lot of recipes which didn’t make the cut! Hence I’m able to offer you this beauty!
With this recipe, I wanted to show how to create a tasty and satisfying meal from a bag of carrots. Cheap and humble carrots rarely incite excitement like some other veg, but to me, this represents an opportunity to show how delicious they can be. This soup is anything but boring. I’ve injected big flavors with the help of a retro classic - sun-dried tomatoes! In the 90s, we ate sun-dried, and their plumper, tangier counterpart semi sun-dried-tomatoes, with everything - sandwiches, pasta, salads. Since that decade, they have floundered as an ingredient (at least in my world). But in this recipe, sun-dried tomatoes combine with trendier pantry staples of harissa paste and tahini to create a bold carrot soup. It’s a perfect ‘in-between seasons’ dish, when the produce offerings are inconsistent and we just want a reliable veg that will deliver a really good weeknight meal. Carrot is always your answer.
The harissa chickpea topping is optional but they add a nice textural crunch to each bite. But you’re not in the mood to turn your oven on, you could skip.
extra-virgin olive oil
2 brown (yellow) onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
450g (1 pound) carrots, washed, trimmed and chopped into 2.5cm / 1-inch pieces
3 teaspoons harissa paste
130g (about ½ cup) oil-marinated sundried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (reserve oil for below)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.25 litres (5 1/3 cups) vegetable stock
60g (1/4 cup) tahini paste, plus more to serve
handful of dill leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or oil from the marinated sun-dried tomatoes)
1 can chickpeas, drained (about 250g cooked chickpeas)
2 teaspoons harissa paste
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large pot on medium high. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, along with the onions and stir. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions are very soft.
With the heat still on medium, add the garlic and carrots and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the carrots to soften slightly. Next, add the harissa paste, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and stir for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until the carrots are completely tender.
Meanwhile, place a medium frying pan (skillet) on medium high. Add the olive oil, chickpeas, harissa, and salt and season generously with black pepper. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan every 2 minutes or so, until the chickpeas are golden and bursting.
When the carrots are ready remove from the heat, and using a hand-held blender, puree until smooth (you could also do this in a blender or food processor). Stir in the tahini.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and top with the crispy chickpeas. Drizzle over some more tahini, scatter with dill and serve immediately.
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I've known about you from social media and didn't know that you had a substack. Us writers should definitely be paid for our work and I'm glad you're taking the steps towards paid subscriptions! Big thanks to Elissa for the cross-post.
FIRST of all: thank you. Second of all: I'm delighted for you! And us!