11 January 2011

2011 - Year of the Soup

We've been eating a lot of soup so far this year. And while I don't think we'll actually spend the entire year on a soup diet, we have at least sustained it for nearly two weeks and it's been a blast planning out our menus.

On a regular basis, we make a lot of soups and stews that are terribly similar and formulaic (this one, this one, and this one, for example) and so I was looking to diversify our repertoire with a few new and different soups. Plus, I wanted to take advantage of my being home all day thus allowing for 6-hour soups in the crock pot. So, I've been reading Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker each night before bed, picking out some recipes and trying not to get distracted by the complicated and delicious-sounding non-soup recipes.

We've had a couple of chunky soups or stews, a chili, some smooth pureed soups, some with a tomato base and some without. Each one different, all of them vegan, and most of them as locally sourced as possible. A trip to Badseed's winter market last Friday boosted our ingredient list for the second week of soup and beyond.

So here's what we've had...

Monday: Lentil Soup with Ribbons of Kale - I made this for some friends who had a baby right before Christmas; I'd been craving it ever since, so it was first on the list. An oldie but a goodie.

Tuesday: Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous (see the recipe below) - our beloved Cosentino's, alas, did not have Israeli Couscous. But we made do with a charming tiny shell pasta. This was a very fun soup that I intend to add to our regular repertoire.

Wednesday: Red Bean and Quinoa Chili - my "award-winning" chili ... okay, it's not really mine (it's Cynthia Lair's from Feeding the Whole Family) and it really only won second place (out of three chilis) ... but it's delicious nonetheless.

Thursday: Lentil Soup with Ribbons of Kale Redux - I added Field Roast Sausage to spruce up our left overs.

Friday: Dinner out at Eden Alley where we had soup! Potato Dill to be exact.

Saturday: ¡Pozole! Sergio found this super simple and delicious recipe. It's traditionally made with meat, but what ours lacked in traditional ingredients, it made up for in traditional garnishes: radish, red onion, cilantro, lime, and tostadas.

Some fancy smoked salts that Sergio got for Christmas made a nice addition to our other traditional garnishes.

Sunday: On the seventh day, we rested from our soup fest and had a special lunch at Blue Bird Bistro in honor of Julia's baptism.

Monday: Winter Squash Soup (see recipe below) - one giant butternut squash from the Badseed winter market was the star of this show.

Tuesday: Two Mushroom Barley (see recipe below) - if you love mushrooms, you'll love this soup. Funny thing, though - I don't love mushrooms. In fact, I was preparing to eat left over winter squash soup if this little number was going to come out as mushroomy as it smelled all day. But eventually the pearled barley plumped and took a prominent place among the mushrooms and, lo and behold, I actually like it!

Wednesday: Left over Winter Squash (for me) and Two Mushroom Barley (for Sergio)

Thursday: Golden Summer Squash Soup - I know - a weird thing to eat in the winter, right? But it's one of the soups I made in September, before Julia was born, and it's been hanging out in the freezer all this while. It was just as delicious four months later.

Golden Summer Soup with salsa and tostadas

The following recipes are from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous
Israeli couscous is distinctly different from regular couscous in appearance and flavor. About the size of peppercorns, Israeli couscous can be found in well-stocked supermarkets and gourmet grocers. If unavailable, substitute acini de pepe (peppercorn) pasta, or another small soup pasta such as orzo or ditalini.

Slow cooker size: 4 quart
Cook time: 6-8 hours (ours was done in 6)
Setting: Low
Serves: 4

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
(I added about 1 cup of chopped red peppers)
3 cups vegetable broth
one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (or one quart of local canned tomato halves!)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
pinch of sugar or a natural sweetener
2 bay leaves
(I added a teaspoon each of basil and oregano; I also added a 1/2 teaspoon of tamari soy sauce)
salt and pepper
1 cup cooked Israeli couscous
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. (You can leave this step out and just but the onion and garlic straight in.)

Transfer the vegetables to a 4-quart slow cooker, add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and bay leaves (and basil and oregano and soy sauce); season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours. Remove the bay leaves and purée the soup in a food processor or blender or use an immersion blender to purée it in the slow cooker. Adjust the seasonings.

To serve, spoon about 1/4 cup of cooked couscous into the bottom of each bowl, ladle the hot soup on top, and serve sprinkled with the basil.

Winter Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
This soup is a great way to begin Thanksgiving dinner. Best of all, when made in a slow cooker, it frees up the already-crowded stovetop and keeps the soup at a good serving temperature while everyone gathers at the table.

Slow Cooker Size: 4 to 6 quart
Cook Time: 6 hours
Setting: Low
Serves 4-6

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (I had a huge squash so I used all squash and no sweet potatoes)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and celery, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the sweet potatoes, squash, stock, thyme, and sage; season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook on Low for 6 hours.

Purée the soup in a blender or food processor, working in batches, or directly in the slow cooker using an immersion blender. Taste to adjust the seasonings, and serve hot.

Two-Mushroom Barley Soup
Both dried and fresh mushrooms are used in this satisfying soup popular throughout Eastern Europe. Any kind of dried mushroom is fine for this soup - I especially like the woodsy flavor of porcini. Pearl barley can be found in most supermarket or health food stores.

Slow Cooker Size: 4-6 quart
Cook Time: 6 hours
Setting: Low
Serves 4-6

1 ounce dried mushrooms
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery rib chopped
1 cup pearl barley
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (we got ours from Paul and Judy at Badseed!)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives

Place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof measuring cup and cover with hot water. Let sit until softened. Drain, straining and reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid, thinly slice the mushrooms, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the barley, both kinds of mushrooms, the stock, the reserved mushroom liquid, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Taste to adjust the seasonings before serving. If a thinner soup is desired, add more broth.

Serve garnished with the chives.

1 comment:

bellananda said...

Thanks for the lovely-sounding receipes, E! Will have to try them posthaste; our slow-cooker's been inexcusably neglected this winter...