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August 19


Saint of the day:
Saint Sarah (Old Testament) 

Saint Sarah

Thought to be infertile, St. Sarah gave birth at an advanced age and is the patron saint of infertility, gypsies and laughter. She was the first woman to convert from paganism to the worship of God with Abraham and became his wife.

Tradition has it Sarah became pregnant at age 90. Infertile all those years, she had a dream in which angels told her she would have a boy. Sarah was directed by God to name her boy Isaac, which meant laughter in ancient Hebrew. Abraham was 99 years old at the time.

The Book of Genesis tells Sarah’s tale. Often depicted laughing and filled with joy, at the prospect of being with child at such an advanced age, The Old Testament says she lived to be 127 before dying of natural causes. Her feast day is Aug. 19.







Mausoleum of Sarah, Abraham's wife in the Mosque of Abraham

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron, Palestine





Molokhieh soup with broad beans (besara)


  • 450g podded frozen broad beans

  • 2 tbs olive oil

  • 1 (150g) onion, finely chopped

  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed

  • 250g frozen molokhieh
    (a leafy vegetable commonly found in the Levant),
    chopped (substitute 400g spinach, stems discarded (200g),
    plus 150g okra, sliced into 2-3mm rounds)

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted, roughly crushed

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted, roughly crushed

  • 700ml good-quality chicken or vegetable stock

  • 1 tbs coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra leaves to serve

  • 1 tbs flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve

  • 1 tbs dill, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve

  • 1 large red chilli, thinly sliced

  • 1 lemon, quartered, to serve

  • Warm bread, to serve


  1. To remove broad beans from their skins, cover with boiling water for 30 seconds, refresh under cold running water, then squeeze beans out of skins. You should be left with about 450g.

  2. If using just the molokhieh, place oil in a large saucepan, about 21cm-wide, over a medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring from time to time, until onion is golden brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Take half the mixture out of the pan and set aside: this will be used when serving. Add the molokhieh to the mixture in the pan (it should go in frozen) along with most of the broad beans and all the cumin and coriander seeds. Pour over stock and bring to a gentle boil on a medium heat, skimming any scum from the surface as you go. Cover the pan and simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes, then add all the herbs, 1 1/2 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Return to the boil, then simmer gently for a final 5 minutes with the pan covered. (If using the combination of spinach and okra, place oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Take half this mixture out of the pan and set aside – this will be used when serving. Add okra to the onion mixture in the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then add spinach, spices, stock, 1 1/2 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Bring to the boil, then lower heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until the okra has completely softened. Add the herbs and most of the broad beans, and cook for another 5 minutes.)

  3. Using a blender, roughly whiz the soup. (Don’t want to blend too much, you want to see pieces of broad bean.) Ladle soup into bowls, and top with reserved fried onions and whole broad beans, a sprinkle of chilli and extra herbs. Serve with a wedge of lemon and some warm bread, if you like.

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