Jeff & Joan Stanford, Elina Fuhrman


Part I: Jeff & Joan Stanford, Dining At The Ravens
Joan and Jeff Press PhotoJeff and Joan Stanford came west to Carmel, California to find careers in education, agreeing to help manage a small inn while looking for work. Jobs were scarce, the United States was in recession, and they found themselves enjoying their guests and rehabilitating the property they managed. The Inn allowed both of them to return to their former interests. Passionate about early education, Joan trained as a Montessori teacher and received her MA in psychology, specializing in Art Therapy, at Sonoma State University. Today she is a registered art therapist, collagist, and educator. Jeff became vegetarian as a first step to honor all life, not only the lives of his family, friends, and pets. He and Joan sought to create an inn that sat softly upon the earth. They created one of the first “green” bed and breakfast inns without realizing they were doing so. Understanding that their Inn was a destination, Jeff and Joan wanted to provide the highest quality food to their guests, which Jeff began cooking in the early 1990s. The restaurant followed their philosophy serving a whole food, plant based dishes designed to rival the cuisine found at the highest rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Part II: Elina Fuhrman, Soupelina
?????????Elina Fuhrman is the founder and chef of Soupelina. She has written for the New York Times, In Style, and many other publications. She lives in Southern California with her family. Her new book is Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life.


Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody, hey there. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food, of course you are, that’s why you’re tuning in, because you want to hear, you want to hear about food, right? Well, before we get started, well actually we have gotten started, haven’t we? But before I bring on my guest, I want a little pity party here. You may remember last week, I was broadcasting from my bed with a fever and that fever lasted an entire week. I cannot believe it, but I had the worst flu probably that I can ever remember and fortunately the fever broke on Sunday and I am on the mend but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and I hope, I hope I’m not going to do any of the hacking that I’ve been doing most of today so I’ve got a lovely pot of green tea right by my side. Keep me hydrated, lubricated. And I think a while later I’ll moan and groan a little bit more about my pathetic state. Vegans aren’t supposed to get sick, right? Wrong. Whoever said that, but I would like to figure out how this flu came to me and I know that it’s something that I will never, never know. Now onto happier things because I am so excited about bringing on my guest, Jeff and Joan Stanford from the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, California. Are you with me?

Joan Stanford: Yes, I’m glad you’re feeling better.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you Joan, and is Jeff there too?

Jeff Stanford: Yes.

Joan and Jeff: (laughter) You don’t know us.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh great, you guys are adorable. I have to tell you, I don’t know you, I wish I did. I love your story. I’ve known about your place for a very long time. These are all my own little “I’m Sorry”, Mea Culpas, whatever. I don’t know why we’ve never made it to your inn. I lived in the Bay Area for about nine years until the early nineties and then I commuted there for the longest time. My partner is from San Jose, we visit all the time. I’ve said almost every trip for like the last fifteen years, “We have to get to Mendocino and it just hasn’t happened. It will happen.

Joan: Yes.

Caryn Hartglass: And so I’m looking at your stunning cookbook, dining at the Ravens and I really didn’t know how the story began and I hope you can just share a little bit about that before we dig into the deliciousness of it all because it’s something I think a lot of people fantasize about and few people really make it happen and get their hands dirty or invest the 35 years to make it happen.

Joan: It’s true, and I think a lot of people when you say they fantasize about it, they really- it’s a fantasy world. It’s very different to run a business and to have to make tough choices and we always try to make the ones that fit in with our values and so it wasn’t always the best business decision in terms of guests because they weren’t always happy when we switched the breakfast from vegetarian to vegan, for example. But we live here and we have to have a place that represents us…

Jeff: And our values.

Joan: And our values, and it’s been a great life for us so I encourage, I don’t mean to discourage people that have the fantasy but it is a challenge, there’s many challenges.

Jeff: Yes. The point is that we didn’t go into this with this particular dream. We did not have a vision. But what we did was quite different than that. We let the vision come to us, to manifest as we were doing it and I understand that people have visions like that wonderful, wonderful man Trump has a vision of becoming president and (cuts out) to become president. We have nothing like that. What happened was in the beginning; we had a really bad partnership that went really South. We were living in Carmel at the time and Joan had fallen in love with this area and we had no idea that we could even get in here. We were looking at more marginal areas where the prices would be less. We were all on borrowed money. Joan and I had 22,000 dollars and that was it. And most of that wasn’t even in real money it was like wedding gifts that we never really returned and stuff. We’ve been married for just a short while-but, well, four years- but anyway, the point is that we have an openness to experience. We, one of the things is that, we both understand is that we can be wrong so we just plow through and when we were wrong, we corrected it like when I realized that I was having somebody kill animals that I wouldn’t do for myself that was an unethical thing so I quit eating meat. I learned about dairy twenty years later and I quit eating that. Not that I ate very much of it anyway. So I have a leaf in my hair, apparently. I was out in the wild, taking the dog out. But in any case, the fact is that the vision basically manifested by listening to, just feeling what was going on this land. And there we have an advantage, we’re on land, we’re in a rural area, we can walk on grass, we don’t, it’s not all green, in the summer it’s brown but you know, you lived out here. The point is that things changed and by noticing them it changed us like Joan, tell your story about the trees.

Joan: Well, is this in the book?

Jeff: No.

Joan: It’s not. Early on here, like when we first came in ’80, I remember standing out on the deck and thinking “Oh, this is just so beautiful, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a better ocean view or a ocean view.” I don’t think we any at that point.

Caryn: Oh, yes it is in the book, but tell it.

Joan: Oh so it is in the book?

Caryn: Yes.

Joan: Ok, so then what happened was I think it was that first winter when we had a lot of rain, like we’ve had just these last few days. And this band of cypress on a lower road like literally fell over, like their roots couldn’t hold them anymore. It was almost like they sacrificed themselves for my wish. And I felt like the land was really welcoming us in that respect. I mean you can get more esoteric about it but I felt, and I said this recently to someone else: it felt like the land recognized that we were here and we were the right people to be here, that we had that custodial relationship rather than a strictly developmental, and then abandon mentality that some people that fit into the business have where they make it quickly and they’re not really invested. I think the new the land, I mean I my sense is that if the land understood or we understood something about the land, it was a co-creative thing right from the beginning and I was pregnant at the time I mean I was, we we’re going to have our family here which is why the original owners helped us get it and made terms that we could manage. You know, they wanted somebody; they wanted new people in the area that were going to be connected to the area. They saw this sort of trend of outside people coming in and they didn’t want that, they wanted Mendocino to have that same village feel that it did have in the past. Anyway, I’m off the track here but anyway, that was the story that Jeff wanted me to tell with the trees falling.

Jeff: Feel free to interrupt at any time.

Joan: Yeah, feel free.

Jeff: Just like our children.

Caryn: Well, it’s a great story. It’s an important story. It’s important to pay attention to your surroundings and your surroundings pay attention to you. I could mention also in the book is you talked about the origin of the name of the restaurant, ‘The Ravens.”

Joan: Yeah, that’s a great story. Do you want us to tell that one?

Caryn: Of course! Of course! I loved it!

Joan: Ok, Jeff you tell.

Caryn: Is it a tough one to tell?

Jeff: No. No, it’s an easy one to tell because I don’t even believe in death so we don’t have time for this but…

Caryn: We have plenty of time, Jeff. Maybe we can talk about your belief system in a moment, but let’s talk about the Ravens first.

Jeff: No, no that’s what we’re going to talk about. So in 1995, we were visiting my dad in Carmel and we were-the kids were out ahead of us, well actually I was with them mostly-pedaling these little surreys that they have in New Monterey and my step-mom and my dad and Joan and I were walking. I was kind of hanging out with my step-mother, Joan was talking to my dad, and my dad points to-I saw this, I didn’t really hear all of it-he points to a black bird which he thought was a crow because we’re from the Mid-west, he didn’t know the difference, and he points and says “If anything happens to me, I’m coming back as one of these black birds, as a crow.” And so that was like April 4th, on May 18th, he died, on May 31st, the first two pair of ravens appeared here that have never been here before, not in the 15 years that we lived here nor in the memory of any local had there been ravens here. There was a theory that I learned later. There had been ravens but people had killed them all. But there were none on the coast in any case for I don’t know, 50-60 years, maybe even more. Just nobody knew about them. Anyway, they appeared, they’re over, they’re hundreds of them now and so that’s why we named the building where the ravens originally arrived, “The Ravens”. And they were on a tree where the building is now; we’re in that building today.

Caryn: Ok, I love that.

Jeff: And that’s why we have the restaurant named The Ravens and we look at ravens as- I’m an anthropologist- by original trade, and I look at ravens from the point of view of the indigenous peoples here that look at them as creators. I don’t have the European view as if they’re just carrying birds to signify war. Well, there’s you know, they’re book end…

Joan: And they’re also, in systems of mythology, they’re kind of a trickster character. They transgress from one world to the other in story and they’re very very clever. They love mirrors, they love to play with things, they’re very interesting actually.

Jeff: Yeah, they’ve played on our equipment where the footprint of The Ravens restaurant is now. That’s where the compiles were and we have a backhoe and a dump truck to move that stuff around.

Caryn: Well, that raven community was just waiting and when you arrived they new it was safe to come back.

Jeff: Yeah, they waited 15 years though. Something had to happen that moved them here, like they carried my dad’s words with them.

Caryn: Yeah, wow. Alright, now you’ve literally changed this place with your hands, digging in the dirt, creating gardens, planting gardens, landscaping, building, reconstructing, refurbishing, so much physical labor, and love. And you’ve created a beautiful place; I’ve seen the pictures. And now, we’re going to focus on the food, because this show is all about food and delicious, vegan, plant-based food. The only food we should be eating on the planet and why anyone would choose to eat anything else is way beyond me. But that’s one of my mysteries.

Jeff: It’s cultural. Well it’s cultural, and it’s part of their identity. I don’t know long you’ve been dealing with confrontations about it, but we have…although we were always a vegetarian-we served vegetarian breakfast in 1991 to the time that we opened the dining room in ‘96- people actually got mad because we put it in front of them that we were vegetarian, that the restaurant was vegetarian. We didn’t have breakfast meats. Their anger was significant, that was the first large loss of guests that we had. I mean, people would yell at me in the lobby, which was brand-new, we had opened it in ’96, and about giving them a choice to eat other things. It wasn’t even half as bad when we went vegan and took away eggs. We had already taken eggs and dairy out of everything that we served that we made, that we prepared like scones and all that, they’d been vegan for a long time, people didn’t even know they were eating vegan hollandaise. But basically, if you were local, you would have to pay two dollars extra for eggs on something to make them aware and if they were guests, we would just do the eggs. But the cognitive dissonance that I experienced of having been vegan for so long and still serving that stuff, I gave myself a Christmas present, Joan and I gave ourselves Christmas presents, but actually that’s the part that I run, and we made it vegan several years ago and I feel a lot better. I think the energy around here feels a lot better, too.

Caryn: And when did that happen, when did it go completely vegan?

Jeff: Ok, all the cooking when completely vegan pretty much in 2007 I believe. And we eliminated eggs and, well you don’t use eggs in scone anyway, but we eliminated butter, went to earth balance in scones. We eliminated eggs in any baking that we were doing, we eliminated any dairy products at all in the process of making food like dishes. We made our own cheese or we tried some of the early forms of Daiya and soy cheeses and all that. We found it’s better to make our own, it actually melts pretty easily. We did all that then and then in 2012 we turned it, the breakfast…

Joan: You’re talking about the breakfast? Because the night was vegan.

Jeff: The breakfast. Yeah, the night was vegan since 2007. So it was just the breakfast that was a problem for us. But I’ve been vegan since 2004 so it was a lot of cognitive dissonance for me I mean it really was a problem because I understood that torture and the problems with the animals and I know that there’s healthy and ethical vegans and I didn’t even know there was a dichotomy when I made these choices starting back in 1985 is when I became vegan, or vegetarian. But it was always a question of animals, it wasn’t about me. Why do I need to eat this? This is going to cause somebody else to suffer. It would be like if you could only make this by some cook getting burnt, then don’t eat whatever it is. It’s the same thing with the animals; don’t eat it because they’re going to suffer for it and that’s why I changed and we really are low-oil to no-oil, whole foods here. The recipes in this cookbook reflect a reduction in oil and all that but they are restaurant recipes but we’ve been working the last year to completely change all our recipes to using as little as that-being as whole foods as possible. And many of them are in the cookbook but we’re continuing to develop more and new ones and as a result we’re working on a whole variety of ethnic foods because frankly, it’s hard to take the nouveau California, the French California combined kind of approach to cuisine and avoid fat. Whether its plant fat or animal fat, that doesn’t really matter. It’s very hard to avoid it because they combine… We don’t even try to copy that food anymore but we did originally, we tried to get that essence of that very high-end Gary Denko kind of restaurant and I think we were very successful with it where we had a very high rating because of that and since then, we’ve continued keeping the food at that level of quality but with the focus on using whole foods which means that we now dropped a bunch of things that use to sauces and the like and actually they’re not in this cook book. We have an earlier cookbook, those things were not put in this cookbook.

Caryn: Well, food is fascinating and over the decades, things that we think were healthy, we discover maybe they’re not so, and we move onto new schools of thought. I remember in the 80’s when I was putting wheat germ on everything, thinking that was really good for me and I would never use wheat germ today because it’s not even a whole food. And there are just so many things that I remember thinking were good for me. Now part of the value in any of that is if we believe we get this placebo effect and it may not have any judgmental effect on us because the placebo effect can take care of that, making us think that it’s really good for us and the body acts like it is. But meanwhile in the world of vegan cuisine, there’s been so much change and you both have been so courageous because running a place like this, you are open only to criticism all the time, especially from Americans who want it their way and are never happy. And you have this thing to balance, which is people who are omnivores and that people who are vegans, that if you are not the most environmentally-friendly, and you haven’t thought through every single ingredient, making it no oil an whole foods and palm oil- free, every little thing, I mean every food has a story, every food has social issues, and we can’t do it all to please everyone.

Joan: Exactly, and it gets to be something of an obsession. I think the advantage we have as much as a challenge is we’re exposing these people that might never go to a vegan restaurant given the choice, they would go not to one. But because they’re here and they’re either tired from checking in, they try it and they’re so pleasantly surprised often. Or the last night of their stay they just want to take it easy, pack, and get ready to leave early, they’ll try it the last night. We’ve had people say, “You know, we wish we’d eaten here first. This is one of the best places we had during our whole time here.” So, it’s exposing it to more people, not just the hardliners or the ones that you are referring to that are really conscious of every little thing because at a certain point that actually I find a little disturbing. I recognize that we need (cuts out) and the end goal is to be the most nutritious and helpful food we can have but at the same time, it can get a bit… I don’t know, just me personally. It can get a little…
Caryn: No, I absolutely agree with you and when you’re appealing to a wide range of clientele. Especially people who don’t know this food, it needs to be a little saltier, it needs to be a little richer, it just needs to be in order for them to feel that same level that they’re used to with animal foods.

Jeff: But we’re lucky. We’re lucky. We had 60% of our guests come from the Bay Area, and that’s a remarkably open group of people, particularly after the last 5-6 years, the Millennials are becoming our guests now. And they are much more aware than maybe people we give them credit. I don’t know, I have no issues with the sole concept of the Millennial generation, they seem very wise. They are active; they move around a lot, they appreciate a lot of what we’re doing. The really difficult vegans that are around- and there are a few- they’re very small-numbered. Many of them understand that a place like this is educational and that’s how we look at it. We were in the process of avoiding all; well we already look for palm oil bases as certified that’s not in a forest that orangutans are in. We’re very careful about all of that. But somebody had to point that out to us that there was a (cuts out), but we’ve actually been aware of that problem since this stuff got popular, so for many years now. And we’ve been trying to deal with it and we’re using coconut oil much more now and it’s basically making our own butter to put in these things. But the fact is that we want to introduce as many people that will be making decisions for other people and also talking to other people that become leaders. We want to affect them. A lot of people are just followers and they might be the ones that are arguing all the time. They’re following a good thing, they’re vegan followers, but we need to get to leaders in California in schools, and we get guests from all over Europe and Japan. We need to touch them so that we give them information and help in passing the word around like I just finished an article on… Well actually I didn’t finish it, I wrote it a long time ago, but I keep adding to it reasons why we were always herbivores that could eat meat. So it’s now 11 really good, scientifically- based reasons for the fact that we’re herbivores. You can find most information on the net and not all the reasons are necessarily in the same article but we assemble them and put them out there. People read that and they begin to understand what it is we’re trying to do. We’re trying to keep people healthy and do that by showing that the vegan diet can be joyful and fun and when you leave the table you don’t feel logy or anything like that. You’ve got energy.

Caryn: What was that word you just used, you don’t feel what?

Jeff: Logy. It’s a word meaning feeling heavy and down.

Caryn: Ok, logy. That’s a good one. All right we just have a few minutes, and I want to jump into your cookbook a little bit if we can. The first thing that popped out to me was the Citrus Polenta. We make a lot of polenta at home and I’ve never made it with citrus and obviously, that’s something I’m going to do very soon.

Joan: That’s one of our most popular items.

Jeff: Yeah, it’s very popular. That was developed by Dominica Patelli, when we first opened for breakfast in 19-basically-’96. She was the person I worked with, she is the one who relieved me of cooking. I love Dominica. She has a restaurant now with her brother in Geyserville. It’s not vegan or vegetarian either, but she was vegetarian.

Caryn: Okay, boo-hoo. Oh well.

Jeff: Yeah.

Joan: That’s hard for me. I never understand how you go the other direction, but anyway, people do.

Jeff: It has to do with a cultural identity. She’s Italian-I’m not making excuses- she’s Italian, her father was a cook, her brother is a cook, and it’s about money. You can make a living much more easy than what we do. So, the rooms that we rent here allow us to do what we want to do with the restaurant. Guests can go wherever they want to eat, but this building is vegan. And the people that live here- we have interns living here- they have to be vegan. We don’t allow any animal products brought onto these premises. In the rooms, people can do what they want to, they’re renting the room. It’s like renting an apartment. But here, this is a public space, and it’s a vegan public space.

Caryn: Exactly. Well, again, you have been extremely courageous and I’m so glad that you’re leading the way, showing the way and hopefully other people that are learning through being at the Ravens or in other places will follow suit and not go in the other direction.

Jeff: I hope not. Well, you know, what happened was, in the late 90’s, we saw just a huge burgeoning of vegetarians, there are a lot of vegetarians around. There was a doctor that would come up, Elson, I can’t of his last name, but he would come up from the Bay Area and work around, do seminars on vegetarian living. And actually, at another place, a restaurant. And quit, he one time came back and just was staying with us, he was not doing that work anymore and he and I talked I said “Boy, there were a lot of vegetarians around, they all went away,” and he said, “Yeah, they all went to the Atkins diet.” So they were health vegetarians or weight vegetarians or whatever they were and they didn’t have that trans-personal, trans-species look at it and I think it’s more of an ethical point-of-view, where you just don’t do that kind of eating because it’s so destructive and it’s so cruel. It’s hard because every now and we’ll run into a vegan guy who says, “I’m a vegan, oh but I eat fish.” And, why? Fish are first of all, he thinks it’s healthy, but fish carry a lot of toxic metals. It’s the least healthy meat you can eat. And so that’s not an ethical vegan. And I think ethical, by approaching this ethically, you’ve got all your problems solved. You don’t have to worry about your health anymore because it takes care of you. And that’s what we try to do. Our newsletter that we give to our guests, every one of them, is really an argument for that. And we have good medicine, the PCRM thing in all of our rooms. People, it’s just making that one decision takes care of so many problems and gets rid of that cognitive dissonance, that conflict within them that actually impairs personal growth. I found that when I made the… yeah?

Caryn: Well, unfortunately we’ve cut to the end of the half hour. But I wanted to say that it’s very obvious to me how you’ve been able to, for the last 35 years or so, build this beautiful place. You are fueled with quite a bit of passion for the vegan movement. Excuse me?

Joan: I just said, “Come see us, Caryn.”

Caryn: Oh I definitely, definitely will. I can’t stand talking about it anymore. I want to get there and we’ll do it as soon as we can. Look forward to meeting you.

Joan: And feel better, thank you so much.

Jeff: I actually don’t know, where are you?

Caryn: I’m in New York.

Joan: We love New York, I love New York.

Jeff: Oh, okay. We used to go there a lot, our daughter was going to NYU.

Caryn: Oh my goodness, what a wonderful school. Yeah, well, I just wanted to say this book, Dining at the Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea, beautiful recipes, a lot of comfort food-looking dishes. Delicious. So thank you for putting that together and thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food. Jeff and Joan Stanford of the Stanford Inn by the Sea.

Transcribed by Bay Vidal, 4/12/2016


Caryn: And my next guest is on hold and ready. Elina Fuhrman is the creator of Soupelina and has a new cookbook out called Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse. Welcome to It’s All About Food, Elina.

Elina: Hi, Caryn. Thank you having me. So excited to be on your show.

Caryn: Thank you very much, and I am very excited to have you, and I’m just expecting you to just take the next half hour away, because……

Elina: Let’s do it!

Caryn: You come with amazing credentials, being a journalist on CNN, you’ve been in some pretty scary places in your day, doing incredible things, and somehow you came to peace with soup.

Elina: I know, right? It’s all about soup.

Caryn: It’s all about soup. And I have to admit, I felt like a real ding-dong. It took me like – I’ve been looking at your book for a while, I knew you were coming on the program, and I love the name Soupelina. It’s kind of like Thumbelina, or you know, some kind of fairytale name, which I love, and I was making some little jingles in my mind, but it took me a while, and I felt I’m really a dum-dum. I didn’t realize it was soup and your first name Elina put together, and when I got it I felt very dumb. But it’s very cute.

Elina: It’s funny because when I told my daughters first, I said, “How about Soupelina?,” and that’s the first thing they said: “It’s what, Mom, like Thumbelina?” And I said, “Yeah, why not? Just a modern fairy, with a pony tail and like huge heels, and a little apron, and a little ladle, you know, let’s bring the soup into the 21st Century.”

Caryn: Absolutely. I love names that end in “ina”, not just Thumbelina. I don’t know what kind of feelings people have about Thumbelina, but I’ve sung opera, and most of the characters that I’ve sung in the coloratura repertoire, all their names end in “ina”— Adina, Rosina, everything ends in “ina”. So it’s just a nice, it has a very nice, melodic, friendly, lovely sound to it. Soupelina, welcome.

Elina: Thank you, thank you.

Caryn: OK, now, how are we supposed to cleanse with soup, Soupelina?

Elina: Well, here’s the thing. You know, soup is so amazing for you. No matter how you turn and twist it, soups have been around forever, I mean, for centuries, you know, for generations. Every medicine in the world and every healer has always looked, brewed something. When you think of healers, you have this image of a pot brewing on the stove, and things going in there, but somehow here we are in the 21st century and soups have become these toxic-laden concoctions with sodium and stuff, and substandard ingredients, and up until Soupelina came on the scene there was really not a healthy soup on the market anywhere, and that was really shocking to me. Because even when you go to a five-star restaurant, you are going to end up having a soup that has heavy dairy or if you go to a vegan restaurant would have heavy nuts in it, or cashews or some of the other nuts mixed in there for cleanliness, and it was really, really heavy. And I came to souping through my own journey, so I started making soups to heal myself, and brought ingredients that I needed in my body to cleanse, to feel good, to feel whole, to feel healed, and I wanted them to taste great but I also wanted them to be medicinal. And so in terms of cleansing, what soups do is they provide you with readily digestible nutrients, because even when you juice and when you eat smoothies, for example, eat the raw food, it is all very cold in your digestive system, and your body has a lot of work to do to digest what you have just consumed. Now technically there is nothing wrong with that, but because we live in our very toxic world these days, and its reality, and we all know about that, and we can’t put ourselves in a bubble and say, “Well, I am now going to create an environment for myself where nothing is toxic.” It’s just not going to happen, because we can’t control our lives 100%, but we can control our food.

And so soup provides readily digestible nutrients that are really warm, that are ready to penetrate on a cellular level, and here you’ve got, you know, improve your digestive system, give you energy, help you with healthy elimination, flush your kidneys and liver, and really just create this favorable environment that will make you feel better. You’ll be calmer when you eat soup. It really changes so much when you, it’s pretty remarkable, try it some time, even from one bowl of soup, you eat a bowl of soup and you just feel content, you feel calm, you feel happy, you feel satiated.

Caryn: There is something very comforting about soup.

Elina: Yeah.

Caryn: And most people who don’t know where their kitchen is and don’t like the idea of cooking, primarily because they don’t know how to cook, soup is probably the easiest thing. It’s one pot, and it all goes in there together. Can’t be simpler.

Elina: But you have to be very selective. And that’s what I’m trying to explain. Because, I’ve come across people who go, “Oh, I love soup, too.” And I always get excited when people tell me that they love soup, and so I always ask, “Hey, what’s your favorite soup? What do you make?” Because everyone has their own favorites. And some people say, “Oh, well, I just open the refrigerator and I just see what’s there that’s about to spoil, and I open up a can of tomatoes, and I put it all in and boil it up and then throw it in a mixer, and it’s great!” And my eyes literally pop out of their orbits, and I go, “Omigosh, that’s not soup.”

Caryn: That’s not Soupelina soup.

Elina: No, no, no, no. In order for soup to really give the goodness that I’m talking about, the healing powers and the medicinal powers, every ingredient in that soup has to be spectacular and has to be hand-picked. Now, not everybody is lucky enough to live in southern California and to go the farmers market every day like we do here, but every town has a famers’ market at least once a month, or a market, or a coop, or Whole Foods, or an international market, or ethnic markets tend to have fresher produce, and I think that if you explore and find those places you will see how great ingredients are, and to me the ingredients are the stars. And once you have these incredible ingredients you can truly make remarkable soups.

Caryn: Quality ingredients make quality food with flavor. Everybody talks about the conventional or industrial tomato. It’s round, and it’s made to fit on a hamburger, and it has no taste. And even though you can get it year-round, there’s no point in eating it. It’s disgusting. But when you find a tomato garden-fresh from a farm, it’s just heavenly. Every vegetable is like that, every plant food is like that.

Elina: Yeah, yeah. For sure, for sure. And that’s why I also really encourage people to eat in season. And I know we are all spoiled here because we like to have things when we want to have them, but nature doesn’t work like this. There are things that grow at different times of the year, and I think if you kind of go with the flow and enjoy what grows certain times of the year, it’s wonderful.

Caryn: Very good. Now, you put the soup cookbook together, but you already have a business where you sell soup to the world.

Elina: Exactly, yeah. To the Los Angeles world at the moment only, but hopefully in the very near future to the world, to the wider world.

Caryn: The wider world. And for those that want to do it themselves, they have the opportunity to get all of your recipes in this lovely book.

Elina: Thank you. Yes, well that was the purpose, yeah.
Caryn: Who came up with the names of all of your soups, because they really are fun?

Elina: Oh, thank you, thank you. Yeah, so my daughters and I have brainstorms, and we sit around the kitchen table, and one of my best friends actually sometimes comes over, and we just play with words, and we sit around and we throw different names, and come up with something that we all love. So we have our own little focus groups and brainstorm sessions.

Caryn: Right, well here’s just a few of them. I’m All Artichoked Up. You’re My Fava-rite. I love fava beans, by the way. And, let’s see, I Don’t Carrot All What They Say. Don’t Squash My Dreams. Cauliflower Me, Maybe. I Can’t Believe It’s Butternut. Some of them are a little deep, you got to go to the next level there, really know your history of commercials.

Elina: Yep.

Caryn: Very good. OK, so your soup story started, my understanding from reading your book, is that you were diagnosed with breast cancer, and that was your wake-up call to learn about healing with food.

Elina: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, it was a scary time. I think we all go about our daily lives hoping that we are invincible, and I was certainly one of those, and then one day I received the diagnosis that shook my world, and I really didn’t know what to do. It was probably the scariest moment of my life. Seriously, being in Afghanistan was not scary, that was scary.

Caryn: That’s crazy. That’s not scary, that’s crazy.

Elina: I know, I know. Because all of a sudden you feel like you are staring death in the eyes, and you have to make a decision. And for me, it was a journey, really, it didn’t all snap together immediately. I didn’t know immediately what to do, it took time. It took a long time. And food became…. So one of the things that I made a choice is to turn down chemotherapy because I didn’t believe in it, and I decided to roll the dice and see if I can make it work for myself the way I believed I could. Now I didn’t know if it was going to work or not, but I had faith, and I thought I was going to give it a try.

And so I dove into research and started researching nutrition and all of the things that I had to do to change my life because one of the researchers, {12:50} pathologist that I spoke to who tested my tissue, told me that in order for me to truly heal I had to completely change my life. And life was not just nutrition. Nutrition was a big part of it, but it was also about reducing my stress, understanding my emotions, quieting my mind, and learning how to breathe, and doing all of those other spiritual emotional things that are so important for us in this busy world.

But soups and nutrition were about 80% of that because that’s really what centers me, and like I mentioned before that’s something I 100% control because I could control what I put into my food, I could control what I eat, when I eat, how I eat. And so I started researching ingredients and I started seeing a Chinese medicine doctor and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and they were telling me about spices and herbs that I have to have in my diet, and mushrooms, medicinal mushrooms like maitakes and shiitakes, and I was trying to figure out how I am going to have all of those spices and all of those herbs as often I needed to have them to boost my immunity, to bring certain nutrients into my body on a cellular level, and again at that time everybody was juicing, it was all about juicing and raw, and I couldn’t go that route. I tried actually. It was not working for me because I was cold. When I did my juice cleanse, I remember it was April in L.A., and it gets pretty hot here, and I was in a parka with a cashmere hat and cashmere gloves and cashmere socks, and Uggs, and I was shivering, I was very, very cold, because my body was not responding to it, it was not getting the nutrients.

So I started playing in the kitchen. I started playing with soups. I started putting all of the spices, like turmeric, massive amounts of turmeric, and cumin, cardamom, and saffron, and all of these ingredients into the soup, and hoping it was going to be palatable for me. And miraculously things started turning out. And partially, I researched all of the ingredients so I knew which ingredients would go with which ingredients and how they would they create those healing combinations, but also I am a big believer in energy and I believe that food is energy. And if you put love into the food you create it turns out beautiful. And so I literally would spend hours in the kitchen and pour my love into those soups. And I truly believe that is the reason they were so healing. And to this day I cook all of the soups. I really believe in that, in that energy.

Caryn: Beautiful. So I didn’t notice in any of your lists of ingredients, it never says love. I think it is an important ingredient.

Elina: It is, it is! When people receive the soups from delivery, they come with bamboo spoons, and each spoon is stamped, “Made with love.”

Caryn: I agree with you, it is a very important ingredient. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re cooking with a bad mood because you don’t want to put that bad mood into the food, either.

Elina: Exactly.

Caryn: Herbs and spices, we are continually getting more science that supports how nourishing they are, and how medicinal they are, and how great they are for boosting the immune system. And they just taste great.

Elina: Yep.

Caryn: What an easy way to make great soup, just a pile of herbs and spices.

Elina: Absolutely, absolutely. And you don’t have to use fats and oils and everything, and you know, the flavors are just tantalizing. Its incredible! That’s the frontier that I feel is going to be coming here, is we need to be understanding more about spices. Because I feel that we’ve kind of gotten veggies down and we know they are great for us, but spices and herbs take it a notch up. It’s a completely different paradigm.

Caryn: One of the things I talk about when people want to, for example, steam their vegetables, and have vegetables steamed, which is great, but then there is the water that the vegetables have been steaming in, and that’s where a lot of the vitamins went. So I always encourage people, “Drink that water.” It’s like a nice tea, or a nice broth. Don’t waste it because it is so good for you. But you don’t have that problem with soup. It’s all there in the same pot.

Now I have to mention this, and I am glad that you clarified it somewhere in the middle of the book, Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a dear friend of mine, who’s my favorite doctor, and I wondered when I saw your name, but you clarified that you are not related. But he is a big fan of soup and encourages all of his followers, his nutritarians, to make soup, so I am sure he would like a lot of these recipes.

Elina: That would be great. I would love to meet him. He is one of my heroes, so I am very proud that I have the same last name, and one of these days I hope to meet him.

Caryn: I don’t know many people who have this name, and it is always a trick making sure I put the “h” before the “r”.

Elina: I know, I know, that’s so true.

Caryn: I am sure many, many, many, many generations back you might have some connections along the way.

Okay, so if people want to make your soup, they buy your book, Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse, and then otherwise if they want you to make it for them, they head over to L. A. and go to your space. Where can people find Soupelina’s in Los Angeles? Where is it?

Elina: So they go online at and they place an order, and Soupelina flies into their home or office and brings their soups right to their door steps.

Caryn: Oh, it’s delivery.

Elina: Those wings come in handy, you know.

Caryn: Absolutely. You know, I was mentioning earlier, you probably didn’t catch it, but at the beginning of the show I was sharing my “woe is me” story of having the flu for the last week, and finally a weeklong fever finally broke on Sunday, and now I’ve just got a little hoarseness and hacking. But it would have been nice to have Soupelina in my neighborhood to deliver me some soup when I was sick.

Elina: Oh my goodness, I can get you well literally within 24 hours.

Caryn: Wow.

Elina: Yeah, my daughter …

Caryn: Which soups or which cleanse would that be?

Elina: So the healing broth, my healing broth, or Lady Macbroth, is so powerful. So I would have you sip on the broth throughout the day. I would have you with Kale-ifornia Dreaming and maybe Sweet Coconut Thai Oh My! I don’t want you eating too much when you’re sick because I want you just getting the nutrients, so you would be having the broth mainly just to flush all the toxins out. And then I would give you some extra vitamin C and vitamin D, and within 24 hours you would be just a completely different person.

Caryn: Well, if you would have been on my show last week I would have tried it and we would have seen what happened, but unfortunately I didn’t talk to you last week, and I hope this never happens to me again.

Elina: Yeah, me too, me too.

Caryn: But now I know what to do.

Elina: Now you know.


Caryn: Well, Elina, thanks for joining me on Its All About Food and for creating Soupelina. Soupelina, Soupelina, Happy little thing….

Elina: It was so nice to talk to you, Caryn. You are lovely.

Caryn: Thank you

Elina: Yeah, thank you so much. And soup’s on!

Caryn: Take care.

Elina: Thanks for having me. Bye bye.

Caryn: My pleasure. That was Elina Fuhrman talking about Soupelina’s Soup Cleanse: Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Transform Your Life, and we can all use a little transformation in our lives, couldn’t we?

Before we go, I was laughing before, I don’t know if you were, but I was going to mention that spring is coming in 5 days, actually today is the Ides of March. Beware of the Ides of March. And in five days spring will be here, and I thought, okay, after the first day of spring, haven’t you been missing your hearing the Mr. Softee truck when I do this program? And I thought, O.K., we’ll have it probably next week. And as I was thinking it, did you hear it? It was about 20 minutes ago, a half hour ago. A Mr. Softee truck came through. It’s not even spring yet! Oh dear. I’m not saying that I like the Mr. Softee truck, it’s just it’s been a whole winter quiet without it during the show, and now we are going to be hearing it again.

I also want to let you know about some other things coming up. Next week is March 22, and I will be celebrating 7 years doing It’s All About Food. My first show was March 25, 2009. So what are we going to do? We should have a party next, shouldn’t we? Woo hoo hoo! Let me know if you have some ideas about how we might party during the show.

And I also wanted to mention… OK, so I said I was sick all week, and my What Vegans Eat blog, I condensed all of last week into one blog just because I wasn’t eating very much, and couldn’t really eat very much. And so I didn’t make any healing broths from Soupelina, but you can see what I was trying to nibble on. I made a bunch of food, or let me say that my Gary made a bunch of food, and I wanted to put a shout-out to Sandy, who commented on this blog post with a TGFG, thank God for Gary! Amen for that. He was right here making some really nice, clean, simple food for me, whether I was eating it or not.

All right. A couple things to look forward to: April 3rd here in New York City we are going to have another Veggie Pride Parade, and Responsible Eating and Living will be there, so if you are in the New York metro area you might want to consider going to that. I’m going to that. Another book that I can’t wait, that I just discovered is coming out in April, speaking of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, his newest book is called The End of Heart Disease, and I know it’s going to be amazing. I know that we all know people with heart disease. This is going to be a great book for everyone to read.

And the last thing I wanted to mention is we just created a brand new cookie recipe last night. We wanted cookies, we made them, and you get the recipe. It’s a very simple maple, peanut butter, oatmeal cookie, and we used maple syrup. We didn’t use any of that break cane juice or other kind of sugar, and there’s no oil in it or no vegan butter. It’s just peanut butter, and that creates the fat.

The last thing I wanted to mention is you know that I’m a real big fan of the AquaNui water distiller where we have a special going on. Free shipping, and if you go to the website you can go over on the right hand side and check out the AquaNui distiller. If your interested now is the time because the shipping is free with the code “lucky.”

All right. I think I’ve got nothing left of my hoarse voice. Thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food, and my friends, have a very delicious week. Stay well.

Transcribed by Sophie Howarth, 4/2/2016

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