Marie’s kale & white bean soup with sweet potato tacos

Lately I am such a fool for love’s sake. For the second time in less than two weeks, I have been stood up by my favorite restaurant. Yesterday Fr. R and I both missed lunch, so we decided to have an early dinner. Poor Z had food poisoning, so joining us was just out of the question (Hope you’re feeling better!!).

Anyway. Even though I was just there Saturday, I really wanted Little Africa again. Maybe the hours have changed, for once again he wasn’t open. My heart and stomach sank. I tried, though not very hard, to convince Fr. R we should maybe look around the neighborhood for our Dear Friend. He could be across the street buying a pack of cigarettes, or out back smoking, or…something. But we waited a few minutes and called many times, and he never showed. We decided to move on. We were hungry (always call ahead – 616.222.1169!).**

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For the first time ever, there was not a wait at Marie Catrib’s. It was long after the lunch rush, perfect timing. I hadn’t been to Marie’s since September, and the first thing I noticed was the pastry cases were moved to the deli area, the menus were new (the format and materials, not the food items), and the water was served in this cute glass bottle.

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The beautiful bright flowers made it feel like spring might already be here. But…I know better. It’s freezing cold, and I want to eat hot things. Every time I’m at Marie’s, the waiter, easily and without really trying, convinces me to get the special.

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Yesterday’s special included a nice, hot bowl of kale & white bean soup. Our waiter said it would be very hearty, with carrots, onion, celery and tomato.

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Does this look hearty to you? It was. At first I thought maybe I’d just like another giant bowl of the soup instead of anything else…

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Then my tacos arrived.

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Sweet potato with pickled vegetables, a Veganaise (vegan mayo)-based dressing, and a sprig of cilantro in corn tortillas. I’m not sure how they prepared the sweet potatoes, but they really were sweet, nicely browned, and the edges were a little crunchy and chewy. There was a light scattering of mixed greens underneath for garnish, and I threw those in the tacos, too. The veggies were sour and a little spicy. There was a lot of heat from that pickle spear! The mayo dressing was tangy with just enough garlic.
And as I was eating, I noticed something. I had an urge to grab the salt shaker, but nothing actually needed salt. It was perfect. Oh, and other than the roll, this meal was gluten free. And I bet Marie has gluten free rolls, too.

So then I started thinking, “If only I had one or two or three more tacos….” But I was promptly reminded of dessert.

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Turkish Coffee Cupcake. VEGAN.

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The cake was moist and dense, and the coffee flavored buttercream frosting was sweet, with a little of the saltiness I love so much. Although this cupcake is gluten-full, I’m pretty sure I saw at least 3 or 4 gluten free options. Something for everyone.

I’m sorry I cheated on Little Africa, but this will certainly be an affair to remember.

**UPDATE**
Okay, we tried again today, and when I called ahead he was there. Oh, you might wonder who “he” is. “He” is the owner, cook, waiter, server, busboy, and dish washer of Little Africa. He wasn’t feeling well yesterday and decided it was better not to work, so…the restaurant was closed. Today we were back in business.

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I was so happy. I was THRILLED. I felt like I was going to have lunch with my soul mate.

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I feel so much better now. But I’m still glad I had a chance to eat at Marie’s.

6 thoughts on “Marie’s kale & white bean soup with sweet potato tacos

  1. You funny gurl! I love reading your blog! Great pictures……I’m going to see if I can figure out how to make sweet potato tacos and sweet potato burgers!

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