October 11, 2010 § 1 Comment
With subtle hints of autumn floating through my open windows, with cool winds swirling through the rest of the Lower-48, and frosty gales sweeping through the northern-most countrysides (it’s 24 degrees at my aunt’s house in Alaska!), it seems appropriate to post a hearty, comforting, chalk-full-of-good-stuff fennel-tomato-squash-peas-beans-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-stew. This recipe is tweaked from Saveur. While the majority of the recipe follows standard soup guidelines — saute vegetables in shifts, add water and seasonings, boil, simmer, re-season — the beginning of this recipe is slightly different:
Instead of sauteing an onion with soup aromatics, we pulverize the onion along with garlic, a little olive oil and a handful of herbs and then saute in an un-seasoned pot (no olive oil glug at the bottom) until all the water evaporates — all this before adding the next shift of vegetables. This technique creates a thicker broth and richer flavor. This soup is marvelously flexible. If you don’t have butternut squash, cubed sweet potatoes make an excellent replacement. Add a few cups of cheesy tortellini to the mixture; try cannelini beans instead of garbanzos for a creamier texture.
Start-to-finish, this soup can be ready in a half hour. However, I recommend prepping this soup at least 12 hours before serving (overnight is ideal). Let the pot hang-out, untouched, on the back-burner after it’s cooked, allowing the flavors to meld. When it comes time to eat, reheat, doll out ladles of stew into separate bowls and sprinkle a generous amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top. Very good paired with crusty sourdough bread, dredged in butter and roasted garlic.
One final note: I prefer the taste of roasted butternut squash over boiled. Prior to making soups that feature butternut or acorn squash, I often roast the squash chunks in olive oil and sage leaves and then add the cooked squash to the stew toward the end of the cooking process. However, if you’d prefer to forgo that step — and it will still taste marvelous if you do — skip the roasting and add the raw squash when adding carrots and fennel.
2 cups cubed butternut squash
olive oil, sea salt, pepper
8-12 sage leaves
1 yellow onion, large
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup basil, loosely packed
1 tablespoon + olive oil
5-6 medium carrots, chopped
2 heads fennel, sliced
1 + 1/2 cups whole plum tomatoes + juice, roughly chopped
2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked*
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
few handfuls spinach or arugula, optional
Parmesan cheese rind
1 -2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
sea salt, pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated, for topping
*For those following a strict SCD diet: Swap garbanzo beans with dry white beans, lentils or black beans after 1+ month symptom-free. Soak dry beans 24 hours before cooking to remove excess starches.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cubed butternut squash with a coating of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and sage leaves. Roast for 20 minutes, until softened. (You can do this the night before or day-of.)
2. In a Cuisinart or blender, pulverize onion, garlic, basil and 1 tablespoon + of olive oil. When the onion reaches the consistency of a slightly-chunky, translucent chutney, stop blending. In a large pot, pour onion mixture and heat on medium high until all water evaporates (approximately 5 minutes).
3. Meanwhile, chop carrots and fennel. (If you choose to forgo roasting the butternut squash, chop squash now.) Add carrots and fennel (squash, optional) to pot when onions begin to turn brown. If the bottom of the pot looks a little dry, add a few drips of olive oil or a splash of water. Saute until slightly-crisp, about 7-8 minutes.
4. Add 4 cups of water, plum tomatoes and juice and 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans. Add Parmesan rind and simmer for 15-20 minutes. When carrots and fennel are al dente, add peas, roasted squash and a few handfuls of spinach or arugula to the pot and stir. Add 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1-2 minutes and remove from heat. Let sit, preferably for 12+ hours, lid on. Before serving, reheat and remove Parmesan cheese rind. Garnish each bowl with a generous handful of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, nut-free, SCD-safe (see asterisk)
April 26, 2010 § 3 Comments
Yesterday afternoon was the pits. It lasted forever and was filled with doll-drum to-do’s like picking up dog mess and dragging giant, fallen palm fronds from one end of the house to the other. Suffice it to say, around the dinner-hour, I was a grouch. I opened up the fridge and freezer and momentarily debated dishing myself a bowl of soy milk ice cream + peanut butter (dinner of champions!). But I was too grumpy for ice cream. I hemmed and hawed and poked around in the back of the fridge. Low and behold, I found two smallish heads of fennel that I’d purchased two weeks ago at the farmers’ market. I could roast them Mollie-Katzen style, I thought, as I stared at them, side-by-side on the counter sending faint anise-scented puffs into the air. But last night, roasting anything – fennel or otherwise – seemed too hands-off. I find that one of the few fool-proof ways of staving off a rotten mood (or curing one that’s starting to plummet) is to fog up my glasses over a big, steaming pot.
Rolling through my mental recipe Rolodex, I then recalled a winning Molly Wizenberg recipe from her book, “A Homemade Life” – a terrific read, FYI, especially the googly-eyed parts where she meets her future husband, Brandon. As I recalled her ingredient list – yellow onion, check! plum tomatoes, check! – I grabbed my biggest pot. An hour-and-a-half later, mood already improved, I sat down to a bowl of warm, tomato soup and a wedge of toasted sourdough bread shmeared with a pat of herbed butter, and guys, I felt like a million bucks. My dad – lover of grilled cheese and tomato soup – claims this is his “favorite soup ever!” I’ve tweaked Molly’s recipe a bit – I added greens, more herbs and pesto – but the gist is the same and the inspiration is all from her.
One final note about the recipe: The soup’s flavor improves with time. If you can, make it a day in advance. Alternatively, make it an hour-and-a-half before you’d like to eat – it’ll be ready in an hour and you can let it sit for the final half-hour to let the flavors meld.
8 cups plum tomatoes (or two 28-oz cans, unsalted)*
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 medium-sized fennel
2-4 cups leafy greens (beet greens, spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.)
2 tablespoons each: fresh basil, oregano & parsley
sea salt, pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3-4 tablespoons pesto
*If following the SCD diet, use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes from Italy, with only “tomatoes” on the label.
1. In a large pot, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil on medium-high heat. Cook onions with a pinch of sea salt until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut fennel into quarters and dice. Add chopped fennel to onion along with roughly-chopped garlic. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes until the fennel starts turning translucent.
2. Break plum tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and add to pot with canned liquid. Fill one of the containers with water and add to the pot. Bring to a boil; lower to a simmer and cook for an additional 45 minutes with the lid off.
3. When the broth looks thicker, the soup will be nearly done (and if you taste it, the tinned-tomato taste will be gone and it will be replaced by a full-bodied, slightly anise-flavored broth). Add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Add between 1/2 – 3/4 tsp. sea salt and several shakes of pepper. Taste the broth. If necessary, add an additional 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar (that’s what I do). Then, add leafy greens and cook for a few more minutes at a moderate simmer. Stir in herbs.
4. Remove from heat and, if time allows, let sit for 15-30 minutes with the lid on. The flavors will develop and get richer and the soup will still be piping hot. Alternatively, make the day before and reheat – the leftovers are even tastier! Serve with a drizzle of fruity olive oil on top or a dollop of pesto and, if you have it, toasted wedges of sourdough bread and butter (herbed butter, with minced garlic, rosemary and oregano is killer!).
Diet Notes: Gluten-free, SCD-safe (see asterisk)