Tag Archive for Soup

Old School Potato Leek Soup

One of the things I love about winter is the angle of the light. It’s not good for driving and it flees from the low perch too quickly each day, but the way it hitches sideways, a smirking dandy with a walking cane. Handsome, and a little bit lazy. I grew up on the east coast before we were melting the ice caps so rapidly and my life revolved in four real seasons. Year in and year out. Roughly every three months, something changed, and with winter, along with the light, I loved the frost.

Weirdly, here in San Francisco, there’s been frost on the ground every morning for a week straight. That’s more mornings than the rest of the 14 years I’ve lived here all together. In addition to providing shiny surfaces for a sunrise to ping around on, it makes a lady want stews and soups. And this old soup is one of my very favorites. I had a few potatoes and leeks left over from Hanukkah and whipped this up in no time.

The first thing I did was pull all the ends of squashes and celery and onions and garlic out from the freezer and make a vegetable broth. This one was sweet from the squash and so my soup turned out extra comforting.

For the broth, I keep a ziplock bag of all the ends of my vegetables to go in as I cook during the week: ends of scallions, squash hats, onion skins, broccoli stalks, cauliflower cores, kale spines… all of it. By the weekend the bag is full and I add 8 cups of water and bring it all to a boil then reduce and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Voila. Broth.

4-6 leeks, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 yellow potatoes
1t celery salt
1t fresh ground black pepper
2T olive oil
6c vegetable broth or water
2T half and half (optional)
cilantro or parsley to garnish

I like to prep everything before I start. I slice the leeks into coin and soak them in a bowl to get the grit and dirt out.  I peel my potatoes (I used yukon golds here, but I actually think the humble russet works better in this soup. It comes apart easier.) and slice them into quarters, then into 1/4 inch discs. The onion gets taken care of.

In a heavy bottomed pot I throw in the olive oil, and heat it up. Then go the leeks and the onions for about 5-7 minutes, until soft. Then I put in the potatoes, the salt and the pepper. I like mine to have kick. when everything is good and soft, add your broth or water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce and let cook for an hour. You can mash up your potatoes or let them fall apart. I like to leave some hearty chunks in mine. If you like, near the end of cooking stir in the half and half. Then you’re ready for your warm soup!!

Some options: do it with sweet potatoes. Swap the half and half for a hunk of coconut butter to keep it vegan. Take out the onion and use extra leeks. Add garlic. Add a dried chipotle pepper for a smokey taste. You could use a turnip too if you like.

Broccoli and Fennel Soup with Red Onions

How about a quick and dirty post about soup? Great. I’m doing my Summer Cleanse right now so much evenings are occupied by soups. I like to switch it up and lot and to keep it brothy. This means I always have some vegetable stock going using the veggie scraps I pick up for slicing and dicing along the way. Onions ends, kale spines, garlic butts and carrot ends make regular appearances along with ginger skins, parsnip butts and cauliflower cores. I put all the scraps in a bag in the freezer and when the bag gets full I boil them down and BAM, veggie stock. Delightful. You can’t beat it. I sometimes add a dash of salt and pepper to mine. The other thing I keep on hand that shores up a soup with richness is the cooked liquid from batches of beans. Pot liquor gives a depth to soup that plain water doesn’t even approach, and as a lady lover of big flavor, I appreciate that. Any time I look into the fridge and see a mason jar of either one of those, I know I’m going to be just fine.

Well, Sunday was just such a day… the kind of day where all feels kind of lost. You’re on a cleanse, nothing is prepped, you’re staring at a soup that you’ve had one too many nights in a row and you’re still in shock about how bad Project Runway looks this season. But look… there’s some veggie broth, and so collect what else you have and MAKE IT WORK.

1 fat stalk broccoli
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bulb fennel
5c vegetable stock
1/4c nutritional yeast
2t ground black pepper
1t celery salt
1 1/2T olive oil

To prep, separate your broccoli into florets and then remove the hard outer skin from the stalk. Chop the inside of the stalk into coins and set aside. Chop your fennel as thin as possible all the way up to the fronds. You’ll include all of it in the soup. Chop up your red onion as well. Heat your olive oil up and add your peppercorn, onion, fennel, broccoli stalk coins, and garlic. When everything is coated and the onion and fennel begin to soften, add about 3T of vegetable stock. When everything is boiling, add in the hippie dust, I mean yeast, and stir until it’s a golden vegetable roux. Add in the rest of the veggie broth and the celery salt. Bring everything to a rolling boil, then turn down to a simmer and add your broccoli florets. Cook for 20-40 minutes based on how you like your vegetables in soup.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

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I cook a lot. At home, I’d say about 90% of what I cook is vegan. But when it comes to old school Jewish Gr’ma family recipes, I usually don’t fuck around. I’ll get some chicken and render schmaltz and the whole Megillah. Or Haggadah, as it were. I put eggs in the matzo balls and the big fluffy things with dense centers float to the top of the soup like doughy halos. If it ain’t broke, not only does it not need fixing, but messing with 200 generations of Jews and their soups is no small undertaking. Still, like Haggadahs change, so too, do we all. As humans, it is our central JOB to change. Our priorities shift and move, our bodies continue to have changing needs, and our FAMILIES change as we grow as well.

Like many enthusiastically queer people, we have a long tradition of collecting chosen families. While I’ve been lucky and blessed to still be welcome and celebrated in my family of origin, this is not often the case. We sometimes leave home, leave our towns, and come together into new families we build out of a different kind of mortar. A sweetness that bind queers together, that binds all people who fight to live together. And in this way, we make new families, we make new traditions, and we make soup.

Last night I got invited to a seder of my best friend Schaefer and her lady. I’ve known Schaef since I was 23, which makes this year our 20th anniversary together. We’ve seen each other through a TON of transitions, often over BBQ. But some years ago, Schaef became vegan and brought me a whole new set of creative challenges. I kind of love when a set of dinner guests have extensively different food preferences and needs. It helps me off the beaten path to new ideas and riffs on things. It’s like jamming for a garage band, except I don’t have a band and well, my kitchen outfits are decidedly less metal than a good rock band. Whatever. I have some good aprons.

Last night I tried two* things. And this one was epic. Stepping off the flagpole for a vegan Matzo Ball Soup was kind of intense. But guess what: This shit is off the hook. And it will come as no surprise that I believe the reason for this is the hippie dust. Now before you even begin, I want to point out that you need several hours, if not overnight for the ball dough to chill in the fridge. I had mine in there for like 4 hours and that seemed fine. This recipe is a mash-up of many ideas and experiences but a driving force was this recipe.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

THE BALLS:

1c matzo meal
1/2c hippie dust (nutritional yeast)
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1t ground black pepper
1 package firm sprouted tofu
2T vegetable broth
1t coconut aminos, Bragg’s, or tamari

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then chop up your tofu into small hunks and put it in your blender with the oil, the tamari (Bragg’s or coconut aminos), and the vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You can use a food processor for this, but since my blender is out, I thought I’d see if it had the power to pull this off and it does. Now take your blender of silky vegan fluff and fold it into your hippie mix. Everything will come together nicely. Form the dough into the balls like you see above. I like mine kind of small to midsized. I used to love to make them as big as my head like they do at Canter’s in LA, but as life happens, my preferences changed. Now put the goods up to rest in the fridge for many hours. At least 4.

THE SOUP

1 red onion
1T olive oil
4 stalks celery
1 parsnip
6c homemade vegetable stock
1 1/2T celery salt
fresh parsley

Heat your olive oil up in a big soup pot. Add your chopped onion, chopped parsnip, and chopped celery.  Cook on medium until the onion and celery are translucent. Add the stock and the salt slowly and taste to make sure you like it. Bring everything to a boil and then turn down and let simmer. Get your balls out of the fridge and place them into the broth. Cover the soup for a half hour. When your timer goes off and you look, your balls will have floated on up and you will feel victorious and incredibile. Now let your soup cook for about an hour on low. Add the fresh parsley about ten minutes before you wanna eat. BAM.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup: Dayenu!

*The other experiment I did was a gluten-free, sugar-free carrot cake. It turned out weird because I threw in some chia seeds and the flavor was off and whatever. The thing about experimenting is sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s FINE.

So here is my Passover offering to you. First some soup, and then this: May we all be free from the things that enslave us this Passover. And may we do what we can to free ourselves, and those that still suffer.

 

5 uses for Pot Liquor. This post brought to you by a reader’s comment.

After my bean post, a great colleague and health coach, Renee Martin, asked me about some things a person can do with the pot liquor after cooking the beans. I was going to just answer her, but I realized there are so many great things to do with the stuff that I’d just make a separate post about it. So here you go:

1. I love to use it a base for soup. It adds some texture and thickness to the base of the soup. In the way of this process, it can also be used as the base for a stock to then go into a soup later for when you have a hankerin’. I like to make stock as I go and I freeze it and throw a label on so I know when it went into the hopper. So take all your leek tops, onion skins and ends, carrot butts, parsnip heads, ginger skins, broccoli stems, kale spines and egg shells for you non-vegans (My friend, the artist, gardner and fantastic cook EE Miller taught me this. It adds calcium to the mix!) and boil them up in the liquor. I put it all into cheese cloth but you can also strain the liquid out after. any way that works for you. A vegetable stock doesn’t really need to cook down for a very long time, while a bone broth can simmer for a few hours.

2. Add it to your cornbread mixture and other savory baking adventures.

3. I sometimes cook my rinsed rice in it to bring richness and balance to a meal.

4. You can use it as a liquid for savory dips and hummus. I read about this someplace and haven’t tried it yet.

5. Use it in gravies and such. Especially tasty in a vegan gravy with hippie dust.

What else have ya’ll done with it? I imagine there’s a ton of stuff I haven’t even imagined. I bet you could even make a great Bloody Mary with it, although I am prone to a Virgin these days. I know I left that wide open for comments, and let the record reflect, I am not afraid.

Soup Library: Adventures in Time Saving!

Here’s the goal for busy people, which I tend to think is almost everyone. Cook once, eat twice. Or three times. And since here we are in Winter, soups and stews are about your best friend for this.

Here’s the thing. Cooking has an enormous host of benefits. Let’s list some:

1. You have control over what goes in every dish. You will be able to pronounce every ingredient, modify to hold the gluten, add raw milk, take out the eggplant you don’t like and instead add in fillets of Japanese yam, and so forth. You’ll know exactly what you get.

2. Per serving, you will save a bucket of money in the long run, especially if you are refurbishing your kitchen to organics. The more you cook, the more you save.

3. You can call better shots on where your hard earned dollars go. Where do you shop? Farmer’s markets? Co-ops? Small groceries? Get to know the store owners. Build community. Ask for ingredients you like. Get all neighborly about it. Occupy your own kitchen. Today.

But how does it save TIME? Here try this on a weekend day. (Or whatever your day off is). Make two big pots of supplies. In one pot, make a batch of whole grains. Try new ones. Bhutanese rice is beautiful. A toothsome farro explodes on your tongue. Millet is an earthy delight and gluten free. Try buckwheat. Toast your brown rice before you cook it. See how that goes. What the hell. Take one serving for your meal and pack up the rest in freezer bags, one serving each. These can go straight from the freezer to skillet after work. Long day? No problem, you already took care of yourself. All week you have servings of whole grains to prepare for yourself.

In the other pot, get witchy and concoct a cauldron of stews or soups. Follow the same directions in freezing. You can use bags or mason jars. You can thaw for the morning or go straight to heat. As this habit fortifies, so will your freezer supplies, and eventually you’ll have a variety of grains, soups and stews all homemade, economical, and hearty to feed yourself in like ten minutes. Rip into some greens and cut veggies for a salad and your plate is ready.

One of my friends in Washington adopted this idea just a few short weeks ago. In the pressure and rush of teaching a new semester, she’s been able to have healthy, clean, delicious meals at her fingertips each evening supporting her presence for her students all day, eliminating the insanity of hunger and no options after work.

Creative food, creative woman, impressively clean freezer.

Cook once, then build an epic soup library.