11 . 02

At the Table: Ria Ibrahim

By Sara Berks

We're so excited to introduce you to Ria Ibrahim, the Farm to Table Manager at Soul Fire Farm. Read on to see how Soul Fire Farm's mission to honor the land we live on, ancestors, and community plays out in her personal life.
Journal | At the Table

At the Table: Ria Ibrahim

What’s your name? Tell us about yourself.

My name Is Ria Ibrahim. I am a farmer, forager, and a chef who comes from a family of farmers, fishermen and chefs in South Sulawesi Indonesia. I have 10 siblings, 6 brothers and 3 sisters, all know how to cook. My cooking traditions are intimately bound with my homeland Indonesia. I learned how to cook since I was very little with my mother, my grandma and other members of my family.

After graduating from high school I went to Fajar University in Makassar, Indonesia to Study International Relations focusing on Soft Diplomacy. As I was studying in university, I was working at a food magazine as a food journalist. During that time I met a lot of chefs and expanded my passion for food, but I realized that I had to finish my studies at Fajar University. My dream job was to be a Diplomat or work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). I graduated from Fajar University with a Bachelor Degree In International Relations, and I immediately worked for UNHCR for 2 years to fulfill my calling. Following my career at UNHCR, I went to culinary school at Quality Tourism School Clarion in Indonesia , and then worked as a cook at Clarion Hotel. In 2017 I moved to the United States and began growing and preparing food in Grafton, New York. I began working at Soul Fire Farm as a “Kitchen Magician “ also known as Assistant Kitchen Manager for a year, and then was promoted the kitchen manager planning and preparing meals for program participants, and also teaching them how to cook culturally significant meals with fresh whole foods. 2 years later in 2021 I became the Farm to Table Manager at Soul Fire Farm, responsible for growing vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and herbs, and transforming the bounty into delicious cuisine. My focus is from seed to plate, including preserving the harvest through fermentation, drying, freezing, canning, and creative seasonal recipes.

Soul Fire Farm is an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system. We raise and distribute life-giving food as a means to end food apartheid. With deep reverence for the land and wisdom of our ancestors, we work to reclaim our collective right to belong to the earth and to have agency in the food system. We bring diverse communities together on this healing land to share skills on sustainable agriculture, natural building, spiritual activism, health, and environmental justice. We are training the next generation of activist-farmers and strengthening the movements for food sovereignty and community self-determination.

Our food sovereignty programs reach over 10,000 people each year, including farmer training for Black and Brown growers, reparations and land return initiatives for northeast farmers, food justice workshops for urban youth, home gardens for city-dwellers living under food apartheid, doorstep harvest delivery for food insecure households, and systems and policy education for public decision-makers.
In my role as a Farm to Table Manager at Soul Fire Farm, I farm and I cook. I harvest food from the farm and transform it into delicious meals, preserves and value-add products. For example, I harvest our organic apples and make applesauce that share along with the fresh vegetables, herbal medicine and eggs, to our Solidarity Share members. Every week we deliver food at no-cost to those that need it most in our community: 22 households plus the Refugee Center, Free Food Fridge Albany, food pantry and church community. This year I harvested 100 lbs of napa cabbage to make kimchi so our community can enjoy probiotic food all year long. I also teach food preservation to our community to prevent food waste. I am the chef for all of the programs we host on the farm. One of the programs is our week-long Farming Immersion for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color. Every summer we train the next generation to grow their own food and medicine.

What recipe are you sharing with us today? 

Maitake Fall Kale Soup with Miso
It's almost the end of fall season the cold crisp air and ice on the ground makes me crave for a warm kale soup for my lunch, so I went outside to my garden and I harvested some Lacinato kale, curly kale, daikon, turnip, and gathered some red potatoes, garlic, red onions and fennel from Soul Fire Farm I also have miso paste that I made February 2021, and today I am so excited to open the jar and use my home made miso for this kale soup. I also have dried maitake mushrooms that I foraged from the forest late summer this year. I am happy to share this recipe with you! I call it “Maitake Fall Kale Soup with Miso.”

Why is this recipe special to you? 

This recipe is special to me because it reminds me of the celebration from seeds I planted in March, the gift from the land. How grateful I am that the land can provide food for me my family and my community. And now Mother Nature, the soil and the land are resting from their hard work throughout growing season. As I enjoy this kale soup, I too am giving myself space to be grateful and to slow down.  

Maitake Fall Kale Soup with Miso

  • 1 cup dried maitake mushrooms (any dried mushrooms is good)
  • 5 cups chopped  lacinato kale with stem 
  • 5 cups chopped  curly Kale with stems 
  • 1 cup chopped fennel + top 
  • 4 medium potatoes diced 
  • 1 medium daikon diced 
  • 2 medium turnip diced 
  • 5 cloves garlic minced 
  • ⅓ cup diced onion 
  • ½ cup white miso paste 
  • 2 cups vegetable broth 
  • 1 quart water 
  • 1 can 16 oz coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 2 tsp salt.
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice  and lemon zest
  • 2 medium stock pot 
  • 1 knife 
  • 1 cutting board
  • Blender 
  • Can opener 
  • 1 medium mixing bowl 
  • 1 liddell 
  • 1 spatula
  1. Make mushroom broth, In a medium stock pot add 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 quart water and 1 cup dried maitake ( any kind of dried mushrooms), medium heat brought into boil and then bring to a simmer low heat. For 25 minutes.
  2. After 25 minutes take Maitake mushrooms out of the pan and put them aside.
  3. Wash vegetables, dice all the root vegetables, chop all leafy vegetables, put all vegetables in mushroom broth, let it simmer until vegetables are cooked and tender.
  4. In a blender, pure all vegetables 
  5. Diced onion, minced  garlic and chopped fennel. 
  6. In a medium stock pot add onion and garlic saute in medium heat  for 2 minutes and then add fennel and Cooked Maitake mushrooms for 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the green pure vegetables. Lower the heat to low heat  add coconut milk, stir the soup, let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat. Add  miso into the kale soup and lemon zest and lemon juice.
  8. Serve it with rice or your favorite noodle. Enjoy!

What does tradition mean to you? What traditions do you hold dear?

For me tradition is very important because, it connects me with my ancestors and my family. We value tradition so much to bring us together, to look forward to, to give us hope to reunite again, to keep us humble, and to share affection through food. The traditions that hold close to my heart is Ramadan, when we prepare food at night and wake up 3 am to cook food as a family. We enjoy food with prayers to prepare our soul and our body for fasting from when sunrise until sun down. When the sun sets we will prepare food again together and eat food together, saying our prayer and what we grateful for around the table with my family to break our fasting. We will do this everyday for a month.

Who do you typically share meals with?

My daughter, my partner and my Soul Fire Farm family.

If you could have a meal with any three people, someone you know/don’t know/alive/dead, who would it be? 

My mother Fitriana, my father Sufri Ibrahim, and my Brother Hendra.