Monthly Archives: March 2013

Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup

Delicata Squash and Pear Soup

Buoyed by the success of Onion and Apple Soup, I decided to tackle an even more daunting combination: Pears and Acorn Squash! I love pears. They are my ‘special treat’ fruit, and thus I don’t want to sacrifice them to experiments. One 6lb. windfall bag on sale later, I learned that pear and banana soft serve is a good idea in theory, but disastrous in execution. I also love squash. To have squash go to waste is also a crime. So to mix the pears and squash in a savoury dish was an absolute no-no under the “thou shalt not mix fruit in savory dishes” kitchen rule.

This recipe is originally from Veganomicon, and has been taunting me ever since my first cover-to-cover study session. The ingredient combination of pears, squash, adzuki beans, and mushrooms sounds so weird that I knew that it had to be delicious. But I hesitated. For years, I hesitated. Finally, I bit the bullet and made the soup. My suspicions were confirmed – this soup is a unique take on the staple squash soup, full of flavour and surprises with every spoonful. I can’t put my finger on what it tastes like – the mushrooms and sesame oil add an Asian earthiness to it, while the squash adds the body. When you think you have it figured out the pear adds a subtle not-sweet but different taste, and the adzuki beans add colour, protein, and their own flavour. Overall it’s a delicious deviation from the norm!

These two soups, although successful, won’t have me trying pineapple on my pizza anytime soon though.
The recipe in addition to being in Veganomicon can be found at the PPK here: Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup.

*Note: In Veganomicon it calls for delicata squash, however I used acorn and it was delicious. Instead of fresh shiitake mushrooms, I used a combination of dried mushrooms and fresh white mushrooms. The dried mushrooms add to the Asian flavour with another textural element to the soup. Highly recommended!


Onion and Apple Soup with Apple Sesame Ginger Chutney

Onion and Apple Soup

There are some things that are sacred in the kitchen. “Thou shalt not mix fruit with savoury dishes” is one such axiom. And yet when I found myself with a glut of apples that were about to go bad all at once, I knew that rules were meant to be broken. I generally don’t like sweet savoury dishes (whoever thought of pineapple on pizza should be given a harsh reprimand) so with this conundrum I went looking for the most overpowering flavour I could think of. Enter the onion. As background: I generally don’t like onions either, much preferring garlic. When a recipe calls for “1 medium onion” I translate that to “half of the smallest one you could possibly buy”. So when this Onion and Apple Soup with Apple Sesame Ginger Chutney recipe flipped past when I was looking through my Millennium cookbook, I knew that this was a personal challenge. Make it or else.

This soup is the reason I love daring myself to try new things in the kitchen. The caramelized onions add a bold flavour that isn’t too ‘onion-y’ and pairs nicely with the apples. The apples themselves lend a subtle flavour to the dish, and when cooked with the onions and red wine it’s more of an apple cider vinegar flavour than an apple-pie flavour. Wild rice was also a new discovery for me, and I am a convert! It is much chewier than normal rice, and doesn’t get lost among the onions and apples. The thyme and tarragon round the bowl off, adding that extra something to the bowl that immediately transports you to the southern regions of France. The chutney is a simple apple salad made with (you guessed it) apples, sesame seeds, ginger, and scallions. A light and refreshing condiment, it added a subtle Asian twist to your otherwise Rivera-inspired bowl. I was almost more surprised that I loved this soup so much than I was that I’d actually entertain making it!

The recipe is another winner by Eric Tucker in his cookbook Millennium, found on page 62. Unfortunately, I cannot find a Google-Book preview of the recipe, but its well worth the library trip!

So challenge those dear kitchen rules. Throw the rule book out the window and make something completely out-of-the ordinary and completely delicious – like this soup!


White Bean Farro Soup and West African Mafe

On the surface, these Italian and West African soups have very little in common – aside from being served in a bowl. Dig a little deeper and you will find both in Terry Hope Romero’s new(ish) cookbook Vegan Eats World. When I learned that she was planning a new cookbook as a follow up to the excellent Viva Vegan! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It took some serious constraint and a severe warning/spoiler that I would be getting it for Christmas so I wouldn’t jump the gun. One of the best Christmas presents ever!

Vegan Eats World clearly demonstrates Terry’s love for authentic dishes from around the world. All are researched to the hilt to make them as legitimate as possible, which is a must. My general approach to opening the world in my kitchen is to Google a country, find some traditional dishes, and write down the ingredients and troop to the appropriate ethnic market. I never escape the market without more unplanned purchases than what was on the list. Back in the kitchen, I cook to my heart’s content and Google what exactly to do with the splurge purchases (often with no labels in English). Terry clearly shares this approach – right down to making your own spice mixes. Touching on dishes from all 6 continents with a significant population (i.e. humans >> penguins), you have a dish for every occasion! My first two dishes, White Bean Farro Soup and West African Mafe were hits. I have made many more since, and I have yet to be disappointed! An added bonus is the humour throughout – what other cookbook do you have that references both Boy Meets World and Brave New World with puns?

(Note: there are some recipes that are clearly updated versions of those found in Veganomicon and Viva Vegan! as well as the spanakopita recipe from Isa’s Vegan with a Vengeance. However, there is still plenty of new material for this to be an absolute must in your cookbook arsenal. The updates also add to the dish – making them even better than the original!)

White Bean Farro Soup

Italian Kamut and White Bean Soup

This is like Italian Wedding Soup. Or a warm hug on a winter night. Hearty, filling, and something that will remind you of log cabins and skiing in the winter. I made it with kamut instead of farro, because I forgot which one to get at the bulk store. Kamut adds a chewy texture and was fantastic – I am sure farro is just as delicious! It’s a simple soup, but beautiful in composition. Terry has posted her own review as well as the recipe here. (Slurp!)

West African Mafe

West African Mafe

It has been debated that I could live off of peanut butter. I am a sucker for savory peanut butter recipes, and when I saw this West African Mafe recipe I knew I had to make it. Peanut butter lovers take note – there are not one, but three peanut butter soup recipes – all from different cultures! It amazes me that with a slight tweak to spices and the vegetables you throw in you can be transported to Chile, Asia, or West Africa. Similar to the Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Stew (from Asia), this West African Mafe was superb. Full of protein due to the tofu and the peanut butter, the broth is rich and hearty with plenty of spice to go around. It is definitely a distinct dish from the Asian counterpart, with a more subtle heat ‘punch’ – it sneaks up on you and makes you crave more. The eggplant soaks up the broth flavour wonderfully, and the addition of greens give the stew some colour. Serve with a green salad and your grain of choice and this is a superstar meal that will fuel you for whatever adventures take your fancy!

The recipe is on page 160 of the cookbook, and can be viewed via Google Book Preview: Deluxe Tofu Vegetable Mafe.

Vegan Eats World delivers some amazing recipes with a healthy dose of humour and fun. It’s a pleasure to read and delicious to cook!


Red Posole Vegetable Chili

Red Posole Chili

I have an addiction to buying dried beans. The stranger they look the better. Of course I have my staples: lentils (green and red), chickpeas, black eyed peas, black beans, and mung beans to name a few. This chili was born upon the realization that I just purchased El Salvadorian Red Beans and I needed to use them. Now. I vaguely recalled a recipe called “Red Beans and Rice” in Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, but I wasn’t feeling the rice and bean vibe. When I was closing the book, it naturally fell open to a recipe called “Quick Red Posole”, which looked slightly more promising. But by this time other beans in the arsenal were calling my name, so the Red Posole was bookmarked for another day. But this quick flip through got the creative juices flowing, and with a quick inventory in my fridge this fiery Red Posole Vegetable Chili was born!

The mixture of beans is totally up to your discretion: add more variety or less – it’s up to you! The vegetables are also infinitely adaptable, making this the perfect on-a-whim I-need-chili-NOW recipe. This first variation used leftover mushrooms for chewiness and bell pepper, zucchini, and spinach for colour. I roasted the dried chilis old school: dry toast them in a pan on your stove, pressing down with a spatula. Turn over when they start to blacken (or smoke), and remove from heat quickly. The whole process takes less than 2 min., and the roasted dried chilis add such depth to the chili it would be remiss without. However, if this sounds like a recipe for disaster, by all means you can skip this step for the safety of your kitchen! This chili was absolutely delicious, and tasted even better as leftovers. So without further ado, I present to you Yet Another Chili recipe!

 

Red Posole Vegetable Chili

½ cup dried black beans (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried black eyed peas (1½ cups cooked)
½ cup dried red beans (1½ cups cooked)
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced
¾ cup onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 dried ancho chilis, roasted and chopped
1½ cup bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1¾ cup zucchini, cut into ½” half moons
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. dried oregano
3 ½ cup tomatoes, diced OR 1 (32oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

Directions:
1) If required, cook beans
2) In large pot, sauté garlic in oil on medium-high until brown, ~30s.
3) Add onions. Saute until soft, ~3-4min.
4) Add jalapenos, roasted dried chilis, and bell pepper. Saute until soft,~3min.
5) Add mushrooms, zucchini, and spices. Stir. Add ~2 cups water and cook until zucchini slightly soft, ~5min.
6) Add cooked beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and 4 cups water. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook ~35 min, stirring occasionally.
7) Add spinach in batches; stir and cook until bright green and wilted.
8) Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne (to taste). Stir.
9) Turn off heat and let sit ~5 min. before serving to let the flavours meld.


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