Soup for Spock

So I guess it’s about time I tell you about my brush with fame. Or are you entirely sick of hearing about Spock and would love for me to get back to our regular civilian programming already? I’m still a little spaced out over the whole thing myself, partially due to the hooplah that followed – four radio interviews and Herald story (watch for it today). Sorry you’re the last to hear it.

(I settled in last night to write this, home at 10 from my cooking class, W tangled around me after a series of nightmares (no more Monster House!) and my (MacBook) laptop died! Or the screen did, anyway.. I could still hear it working away in the dark. But I couldn’t unravel myself to go to my desk. Even for you guys.)

So yes, I met Leonard Nimoy. On both Saturday and Sunday, in fact – I made lunch for him on both days, along with one Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, a bunch of guys from Twilight and Battlestar Galactica (!) and Erin Gray from Buck Rogers. And oh yes-even Brent Spiner. (He’s vegetarian – I brought him a cup of pureed red lentil, sweet potato and carrot soup with ginger and curry to sip as he signed autographs.)

But, if you’re still reading, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? Here’s the story:

It all came to pass because I was on traffic duty Friday morning on the Eyeopener. (Where I usually do food.) Early in the show we were chatting about Leonard Nimoy being in Vulcan, and I wondered aloud who might be cooking for such a party, and what might be served. (Always making the connection between current events and food.) Immediately after the woman handling PR for Spock while he was in town called, and asked if I might be willing to make his soup. She wasn’t sure who else to trust with the task.

Well sure, OK. My plans for the weekend at that point were to rake half-composted leaves and thawed dog poop from the back yard. Later on, as we talked details, she mentioned that Malcolm McDowell would like soup too, and maybe a grilled ham and cheese? Ditto Sid Haig? And could Leonard’s agent have avocado, tomato and lettuce?

Spock requested beef and barley and minestrone – not the most travelable of soups – so I braised a chunk of beef overnight to add to the pot in the morning, and made minestrone late in the morning, so that the vegetables wouldn’t turn all flaccid and grey. I brought them over in the double CrockPot I had in my garage and thought I’d never have use for, along with my panini press and some nice grainy bread, ham, Sylvan Star Gouda, wee jars of Brassica mustard and a jar of Saucy Ladies spiced pickled beets. I made a batch of chocolate walnut puddle cookies, having heard that Leonard didn’t want any bread. (He ate three – and said they were “wonderful”.)

I set up in the green room – a small, dark room with three bare tables and one plug-in. No kitchen, no sink. People came and went, checking in to see if I was ready for Mr. Nimoy. (All he wanted was soup – it was easy to be ready for him.)

And then he came in. No pomp, no fuss. It was instantly comfortable – like my Dad or Grandad had arrived – he must be that familiar. (And looks close-up just like he does on TV.) He wore a T-shirt, jacket and baseball cap. He got a bowl of minestrone, sat down and ate it without comment. (I was all prepared to say hey, don’t worry about me! You don’t need to chit chat, this is your down time – relax. But he beat me to it. This is why I didn’t bring my camera in – their lunch break in the green room is respite from the thousands of fans – 10,000 on Saturday alone – they spend their days greeting, signing autographs for and having their photos taken with. Fortunately Mark was there with his camera – thanks to LoganImaging for the photo above, and sorry I once again look a little psycho – but hey, I had my arm around Leonard Nimoy! It’s amazing my eyeballs are still in my head.) He was very kind, friendly, chattier on Sunday than on Saturday. But let’s finish up Saturday’s story.

A few familiar-looking guys came in and sat down to eat – I learned later that they were from Twilight – fortunately I had enough, but ran out of bowls before Malcolm and Sid arrived. (Malcolm had to dump the kale chips onto a plate and use that bowl.) For their panini I brought olive oil and garlic as well as softened butter with grated Parmesan cheese stirred in – a secret I learned from my friend J to spread on the outside of grilled cheese sandwiches for an extra layer of cheesy crunch. I asked Malcolm which he preferred, and he said “I’ll take whatever tastes best!”

But wait, I didn’t tell you about how over the top nice he was. (Leonard was too, but in a quieter way.) Malcolm hugged me (lots) and went on about how fantastic it was to have the chance to meet me. (I know! Like HELLO, HAS NO ONE TOLD YOU YOU’RE MALCOLM MCDOWELL?) You’re excited to meet me? He had remembered the details about me that were undoubtedly told to him the day before. He asked me questions, and was so thrilled to be fed something hot and made from scratch, just for him. Yes, these guys are on the road all the time, eating at restaurants and ordering room service, and undoubtedly eat very well. But at conventions and media events they’re used to getting a platter of muffins or sandwiches or fending for themselves. The food was more well received than I anticipated.

So. They eat, get up to leave, and I ask what they want tomorrow – I mean, if I’m going to cook for them, it may as well be something interesting, right? More than just soup and sandwiches? “Don’t say that,” Sid Haig said, “or I’ll ask you to cook Greek food for us!” I asked if they liked roast leg of lamb. Their eyes almost popped out of their heads.

So I’m packing up, clearing dirty dishes and my little prep area that has become covered with bread crumbs and smears of ripe avocado, when Aaron Douglas and Tahmoh Penikett from Battlestar Galactica walk in. I didn’t even realize they were there. And then I came to with carpet imprinted on my face.

(I was such a Battlestar Galactica fan. I highly recommend picking up the series on DVD and getting yourself thoroughly addicted to it. And then you’ll see what I mean about Helo and the Chief. But you have to follow it – you can’t pick it up in the middle and expect to know what’s going on. It makes you think, and philosophise. I haven’t been as addicted to a TV show since. I don’t think The Office counts.)

The guys were starving, and wanted lunch, of course. Fortunately I had enough to make thick grilled ham & cheese for Tahmoh and a vegetarian avocado, cheese and tomato sandwich for Aaron. Fast-forward an hour and the organizers are asking if I can please come again tomorrow, but cook for everyone this time? And so on Saturday night I skipped out of a fundraiser (for the Janus Academy) so that I could go grocery shopping for legs of lamb and more lunch ingredients closing in on 11pm. I mostly thawed the lamb in a sinkful of warm water at around midnight, Mike browned them on the grill in the dark and I cooked them overnight (one in the CrockPot, the other in the oven at 275F) – in the morning I made tzatziki and naan. Exactly what I did here.

For the vegetarians I made a red lentil, sweet potato and carrot soup with ginger and curry (which I foresee having for dinner in the near future, as there are two jars of leftovers in the freezer). On Sunday I made an old standby – sausage, lentil and barley soup – and Leonard made so many yummy noises (groaning and mmmmm-ing) that it made Emily, who I brought along to help and who was undoubtedly the coolest kid in school Monday morning, giggle. She laughed harder when Aaron (!!) wrapped his arms around me, hugging me and thanking me for lunch. Immediately after, I walked into a wall in an attempt to go through the door.

Sorry, I think I just blacked out for a minute.

So yes, everyone was enamoured with the lamb and naan, and besides blowing a fuse with my panini grill, lunch went well. I made a big batch of brownies and a pan of baklava, and as they sat around the tables the stars commented on how they never get fed like this, and what a difference it made to their days. The Twilight guys raved about the baklava and asked how I made it – not overly sweet. Erin Gray (from Buck Rogers) asked for my lentil soup recipe, and promised her famous cheesecake formula in return. Sid Haig asked for my address – to send me a sample of a new spice blend he’s working on. Food really does bring people together, no matter who they are.

Sausage, Lentil & Barley Soup (for Spock)


Yields1 Serving

canola oil, for cooking
2 mild or hot Italian sausages (I used Spolumbo’s)
half a bunch of celery
2 L chicken or vegetable stock or water
a big handful of dried green lentils (about 1/3 cup)
a big handful of pot or pearl barley (about 1/3 cup)
salt and pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Squeeze the sausage out of its casings into the pot and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Chop the entire bunch of celery starting at the leafy end and going about halfway down - I use a lot of celery, and throw it in the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes.


Add the stock, lentils and barley, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils and barley are tender.


Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.



 canola oil, for cooking
 2 mild or hot Italian sausages (I used Spolumbo’s)
 half a bunch of celery
 2 L chicken or vegetable stock or water
 a big handful of dried green lentils (about 1/3 cup)
 a big handful of pot or pearl barley (about 1/3 cup)
 salt and pepper to taste



In a large soup pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Squeeze the sausage out of its casings into the pot and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Chop the entire bunch of celery starting at the leafy end and going about halfway down - I use a lot of celery, and throw it in the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes.


Add the stock, lentils and barley, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils and barley are tender.


Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Sausage, Lentil & Barley Soup (for Spock)

A friend sent me this – I was pondering not washing his bowl and spoon and encasing it in glass to put on permanent display…


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55 comments on “Soup for Spock

  1. Erica B.
    April 28, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Sounds like a memorable weekend. Love the YouTube clip hehehe.

    *argh now if you’ll excuse me Josh got into the sunblock.

  2. Jennifer Jo
    April 28, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Julie, It sounds like so much fun, in a stressful sort of way. You keep a level head, that’s for certain. Good job!

  3. Amy from She Wears Many Hats
    April 28, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Oh my word! That’s crazy cool. I’d have burned something (or everything) and freaked a little for sure.

  4. Ruth
    April 28, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Very cool weekend!!!! All I did was watch the new Star Trek for the fourth time and wish that I got to make soup for Spock!!!

  5. Tatiana
    April 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

    I know and love BG, and am currently in the middle of season 3 on DVD. But it’s not right to keep the Twilight guys anonymous. What if I like them too? I can be three times as thrilled. (One for each show.)

  6. Zoey
    April 28, 2010 at 10:02 am

    This is fantastic! I love your reactions to meeting Aaron and Tahmoh — I’m sure I sounded like a complete dork telling Aaron at the autograph table about how nobody ever understands my BSG references and how when I sang All Along the Watchtower at karaoke once, I still got no response. Did you get to go to the Battlestar panel on Sunday? It was just hilarious.

    Congratulations on a wonderfully successful comic con!

  7. ladyloo
    April 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Holy freakin’ awesome!! That is the coolest story! Lucky, lucky lady!

    (I also think it’s freakin’ awesome that your husband was helping you cook at midnight. Gold star!)

  8. Lori
    April 28, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I just love hearing again and again how “simple” food prepared with love and care makes people swoon.

  9. sarah @ syrupandhoney
    April 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Haha! I love Big Bang Theory…thanks for uplifting my work day 🙂

  10. Hilary
    April 28, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I love this story, what a hoot! The part about Malcolm McDowell cracked me up – he sounds so NICE!

  11. Kate
    April 28, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Oh, so jealous. I stayed home, but my husband and his buddies were at that very same comic con. I feel I know you (not in a stalker way – grin) so I got to say to the guys, you may have gone to the convention, but my friend Julie cooked for Leonard! ha!

  12. ilovealbertabeets
    April 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Julie you are the best storyteller. Love it.

  13. Debbie
    April 28, 2010 at 11:38 am

    What a fabulous experience! And I’m sure that no matter how many fabulous restaurants they get to eat in, nothing beats a scrummy, warm, home-cooked meal.

    So exciting for you! I will now be thinking of you whenever I watch Star Trek & BG, 2 of my favourites.

  14. Laurie in Burnaby BC
    April 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Thank you so much for the story and the recipe. I’ll make it as soon as I get some sausage, and pretend I’m eating what Leonard Nimoy ate. 😉

    What an excellent weekend, in a stressful, sleepless kind of way. Big hugs to a hubby who helps you cook at midnight!

    Girl, you earn every accolade you get – you work hard for them all. 🙂

  15. Donna
    April 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Live long and prosper, Julie.
    What a great weekend.
    Can you now claim to make the best lunch in the universe?

  16. Lynn
    April 28, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Science Fiction and food? That’s a match made in heaven. Good on you! Rock on, Julie.

  17. Salanth
    April 28, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Amazing story! Wow. It’s just so much wow!

  18. Lana in South Mountain (ON)
    April 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Great story. Very cool to have cooked for Spock! And the video clip is hilarious!

  19. Anna
    April 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    This is why I love reading your blog!

    Who says us scifi lovers have to subsist off of cheetos and Dr. Pepper? We can be gourmet AND geeky!

    Also, you made a sandwich for Tahmoh Penikett! I would have passed out, too.

  20. AnnaV
    April 28, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Seriously…A Day in the Life of JulieV needs to made into a reality show! Follow Julie as she juggles feeding family, friends, the CBC and Spock!

  21. JoJo
    April 28, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Leonard must be quite tall.

  22. angiebean
    April 28, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Way cool! This story is great.

  23. Sarah G
    April 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    That is so cool!

  24. Bev G
    April 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Good on you Julie! another feather in your cap, keep up the great work.

  25. Stephen Roden
    April 28, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    You met Malcolm McDowell?…..From “Clockwork Orange”, “Caligula” and “Gangster #1” and you made a dish for some sci-fi guy?..HELLO?…Julie, how could you?

  26. Donna Gray
    April 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Hey Julie,

    Donna Gray here! A special thank you for all your efforts on the weekend. The food was incredible and you were a superstar! I was so busy, I only got to enjoy the brownie and some of the lamb, both were awesome. I am glad you got to hand out your cookbooks too! Apparently, there is a package for me from Chris, Malcolm’s agent, for me. I think it’s got a thank you pix in it from Malcolm.
    I featured your recipes in my food column in the Calgary Herald’s Neighbours Recipe Box a couple of years ago, and always admired your cooking and personality. You literally saved me a whole lotta stress and worry about taking care of all the guests, especially Leonard. He is adorable. It was great universal timing when I heard your comment on CBC about who is cooking in Vulcan. Apparently, Leonard and Aaron Douglas both raved about the soup when they were being interviewed by SPACE for Inner Space! It was playing tonight on SPACE at 9, but they will probably repeat it again tomorrow. Keep an eye out! Take care and I’ll email you in a bit.

  27. Donna Gray
    April 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Sorry, I meant to write that the package is for me to pick up…I think Chris and Malcolm left a signed pix for you…I believe. Nifty!!!

  28. Dianne
    April 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Absolutely awesome as always. Good stuff Julie!

  29. mmac
    April 28, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I love this whole story. I heard you ponder “I wonder who is cooking for that?” early on Friday morning during your first segment and then in the car on the way to work heard “Remember I wondered who was cooking for Leonard Nimoy … that would be me!” You sounded so delighted!” Glad to read all about it and know how it turned out.

  30. maria
    April 28, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    How exciting, you superwoman! I loved BSG. Sigh. Can I use red lentils in the recipe? Is there a difference?

  31. Kathy
    April 29, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Freakin’ awesome Julie.

  32. JulieVR
    April 29, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Maria – of course! You can use any kind of lentil you like. I’m a huge fan of the lentils. I’ll post the red lentil and sweet potato soup recipe soon!

  33. Sunita
    April 29, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Who did you meet from Twilight? I’m so jealous!

  34. Katharine
    April 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    WOW!! **star struck**

  35. Barb
    April 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I am amazed by it all. I hate to say you are so lucky to have been chosen because I know you have worked so hard and truly earned your spot there in your own little limelight.

  36. Beverley M
    April 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing your story! I’m so terrible at knowing actors names, so it was nice to have the links to go “Tahmoh? Who? Oh, HIM! I LOVE HIM!” 🙂 I like BSG too 🙂

  37. Lesli C-Kellow
    April 30, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Food and meals definitely bring us all together…no matter where we’re from – even from Vulcan, eh? 🙂

  38. glenda
    April 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    The you-tube clip is hilarious – really had me giggling! Thanks!

  39. Pat L
    April 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Loved the soup for Spock! Super tasty. congrats on meeting all those super stars!

  40. Nic
    May 1, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Julie, I just came from seeing your author talk at the JPL. Wow, you get around! Loved the cookies, BYW, and I will definitely incorporate that recipe into my repertoire!
    LOVED the presentation – you are SO FUNNY!! And thank you for winding up to get me to the Farley Mowat movie on time – you are funny and thoughtful at the same time. (hmm, bad sentance structure, there – sorry!)
    I look forward to hearing you on breakfast radio again – and I might have to take a stab at the lentil soup recipe, too!!
    Grateful in Jasper,

  41. Heather
    May 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    OMG I’m a Huuuuuge BSG fan too and I can’t believe you go to meet Helo!

  42. Sharon
    May 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    No garlic or onion in this soup? I’m making it tonight. Wondered.

  43. JulieVR
    May 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Nope – no garlic or onion – but feel free to add it! It’s soup – you can do whatever you like!

  44. Sharon
    May 2, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    True true. But I wanted your soup, Spock’s soup.

    So, ok. First I had to use chorizo from Sunterra. Then I added a tablespoon of dried chervil, about eight ounces of brown mushrooms, cayenne, Keen’s dried mustard powder and 1/2 cup of cooked down chicken drippings I had in the freezer.

    Now it’s my soup, not yours or Spock’s. 🙁

    But it is good.

    This is confusing. Am we not supposed to talk about the food?

  45. Sharon
    May 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Am we? Oh I need more soup.

  46. A Canadian Foodie
    May 5, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Absolutely hilarious, Julie. What a blast. And a lot of hard work. Amazing how adrenalin will keep one going far past what is humanly possible – and you were clearly running on it with all you accomplished in this short period. And, yes. Food does bring people together. That is exactly where it is all at. This should happen more often when visitors come to town. There are a host of great home cooks like yourself that would swoon at the opportunity to cook real for for some very fun people. What an adventure!
    Thank you for sharing it with such joy!

  47. Lisa
    May 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Greatest story ever! I am a huge BSG fan, so am very jealous.

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