Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Winter of Soups, A Parsnip Infatuation, and Heartbreak

Root Vegetable and Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

            It has been officially 10 months since I've blogged. This is absolutely ridiculous considering my zealous cooking nature. Oh what a crazy 10 months it has been! A Fall season of  unabashed love and a winter of  deep illuminating heartbreak brought me to my kitchen in happiness and despair. As always, the vegetables and spices awaited me with their comfort and familiarity. Dependable to soothe me through whatever avails as my kitchen knife cuts and dices away all of lifes' frustrations. It was a winter of soups. Soup is such a universal food in which almost all cultures cook and enjoy. The versatility and open ended creation that can take place within soup making reminds me of the possibilities inherent within our own daily lives. What have you been throwing into your personal soup pot lately, and how is it cooking up?
          The following recipe was created for my boyfriend at the time, who quickly took me into a whirlwind of relationship fervor. I gladly cooked food full of adoration and gave my heart within every stir of the soup pot. He left me as the winter snows fell heavily, but thankfully I discovered a new love quickly: the parsnip. This handsome root vegetable swept me off my feet with its' subtle sweetness and charming adaptability into my recipes. When peeled and diced, the parsnip is a tasty addition to your soups' mirepoix. The mirepoix is a french technique for starting the soup. It is traditionally a saute in the soup pot of carrots, onion, and celery with a light coat of oil or butter. When the onions get glossy, all the other soup ingredients are added. The mirepoix is the prelude to the final culmination. Experimenting with the types of oil used in the saute along with switching up the traditional vegetables takes soup making to the next dimension.

Saute in medium saucepan the following peeled vegetables for 5-7 minutes:
1 cup diced Celery Root 
2 medium sized Parsnips diced
2 medium sized Carrots diced
1 lg. Russet Potato diced
1 sm. Sweet Potato or Yam
1/2 leek chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
3 Tbsp Virgin Sunflower or Olive oil

Add the following to vegetable mixture:
1.5 quarts filtered water* 
1Tbsp Thyme
1Tbsp Sage
1 cube good quality vegetable bouillon**

Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for an hour stirring occasionally.
The next step is to puree 1/2 of the soup in a blender, leaving the other half in the soup pot as is (chunky for the chowder). Add soup puree back into the soup pot.

2 ears sweet corn shucked off of cob
2 chopped Roasted Poblanos***
1-2 Tbsp sea salt, more or less to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Let soup simmer for another 30 minutes so flavors can assimilate. Take off heat and serve.

Miso is a way to enrich the flavor of certain soups and add unami. After soup cools slightly and is off heat (so not to kill the beneficial enzymes of miso) a slurry of 2-4 Tbsp Miso mixed with warm water can be added to the soup. If this is done, reduce the amount of sea salt added before in previous step. Miso is incredibly healthy and adds a natural saltiness while deepening the soups' flavor.

*I choose to use filtered water in all of my soups and in all of my cooking. It is easy to refill a jug at ones' local grocery stores' water filtration station. Tap water is full of chemicals, chlorine, heavy metals  and  other toxins, which are ingredients I don't want in my food.

**Make sure to read all labels when searching for a good vegetable bouillon option. MSG and many other funky, unhealthful ingredients lurk in stock bases. As usual, health food stores usually carry the best option for purchase. I like the Rapunzel brand.

***Please go to my blog post The Joy of Cooking en Mexico for instructions of how to roast poblanos. 

Mirepoix for Yellow Split Pea Soup
          My Yellow Split Pea Soup features parsnips and leeks. The soup is finished off with 2 diced Roma Tomatoes. The tomatoes add a nice acidity which balances well with the root vegetable richness inherent in this vegetarian version of classic split pea soup. Hearty multigrain artisan bread slathered in butter is a must have accompaniment as well as 1-2 feet of snow falling outside the door.

Saute the following vegetables in 2 Tbsp Olive oil or Butter for 5 minutes:
1 Celery stalk diced
1 Carrot peeled and diced
1 lg. Parsnip peeled and diced
1/2 Leek chopped

Add the following:
2 Liters filtered water
2 cups Yellow Split Peas
2-3 Tbsp sea salt to taste
1 Tbsp Sage
1 Tbsp Thyme
2 diced Roma Tomatoes

Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat so soup simmers. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Take off heat and serve.

yours truly basking in the fall sunshine  kitchen queen style

Posole is a revered soup in the Southwest region. Coveted recipes are proudly served in this soup that features hominy corn. Hominy corn is usually purchased in its' dried, canned, or frozen form. I prefer to buy it frozen. If using dried, allow extra cooking time (i.e. hours) and add extra water to recipe. Hominy was eaten by the Natives of Mexico and Guatemala dating back to 1200 BC. Traditionally, chicken or pork, is added to the Posole. I choose to stray from tradition and add a saute of root vegetables instead. Do not use canned green chiles in this soup. One can find frozen green chile in the freezer section at most grocery stores in the southwest or at specialty hispanic food stores. Even better is to use freshly roasted green chile if available. It is important to serve the soup with a squeeze of fresh lime juice as it combines beautifully with the broth. 

Saute in medium sized thick bottomed saucepan for 5-7 minutes:
2 Tbsp Expeller Pressed Sunflower or Safflower Oil
1 sm. Parsnip diced
1 Carrot diced
1/2 stalk Celery diced
1/2 Leek chopped
1/2 cup Sweet Potato diced
1.5t Cumin seeds

6 cups filtered water
2 cups frozen or canned Hominy
20 oz frozen chopped green chile (mild or medium heat)
2-3 Tbsp Sea Salt, to taste (add 1 Tbsp at a time to taste)
1 Tbsp Oregano
2t Thyme

Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat and let soup simmer for at least 2 hours. Take off heat and serve in bowls with recommended garnishes. Serve with heated flour tortillas.

Garnish each soup with the following:
fresh squeezed juice of 1/2 a Lime
dollop of Sour Cream
chopped Cilantro
diced Avocado

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