Oodles of Noodles: Warm Up With This Hearty Miso Udon Soup

————

————

We’re finally getting what we’ve needed for months here in Northern California, a dose of stormy, wet weather. The hills are turning fresh and spring green, at last. With drizzle coming down outside, I decided to warm up my insides with a bowl of udon noodles and vegetables in a rich miso broth. Although I usually recommend whole grain noodles (brown rice, whole wheat, buckwheat), I must confess that sometimes the allure of fat, wheaty udon calls to me. I especially like fresh udon noodles, because not only do they save time, but they seem to drink in the broth and become more succulent than dried noodles do. Of course, if you can’t find fresh udon noodles in your Asian or natural foods market, dried will do, as will linquine. In either case, you will need to take the extra step of cooking them separately according to package directions. I think you’ll love that this recipe begins like a stir fry, and then after water is added, becomes soup.  You could have this on the table in 20 minutes, and you need dirty only one pot: your trusty wok. If you live alone, as I do, I’ve scaled this recipe for you.  I ate a little more than half for dinner, and just finished off the rest for lunch. Perfect. It’s still raining outside and inside, I’m feeling warm and cosy. Recipe, after the jump.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Aduki Beans Pair With Garnet Yams In A Colorful, Autumnal Potage

———–

———–

One of the great things about dried beans is that they’re always in your pantry, ready to use. And while it’s never wrong to cook any bean at any time of year, I just think kidney beans and aduki beans (sometimes spelled azuki) go especially well with winter squash, sweet potatoes, and root vegetables which are so much in season now. A dish I love to make in the autumn is roasted chunks of kabocha, red kuri or butternut squash, mixed with tender, sweet cooked aduki beans. Everybody seems to like it, and this soup is really a variation on that theme.

If you’re not familiar with aduki beans, look for them in Asian stores and well-stocked natural food stores. They’re a favorite bean in East Asia, especially in Japan where they’re often sweetened, mashed and used as a filling in pastries, and even as a topping for ice cream.  I read that Pepsi Japan released an aduki-flavored Pepsi product a few years back , but I have no idea if was a hit or not! I do wonder if adukis aren’t prized as much for their red color, the color of celebration and good fortune in East Asia, as they are for their mellow, sweet flavor. They’re an easy bean to like, especially with their nutritional profile of being good sources of protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and folic acid. So, try your hand at this soup, it’s easy to make, warming and hearty enough to be a main course. If you do try it, leave a comment telling us how you liked it.  Recipe after the jump…

———–

Continue reading

Produce Superstars: Red Kuri Squash Shines In This Simple Miso Soup

———–

———–

I awoke this morning wondering (among other things) what to do with the half of a red kuri squash which had been lounging in my fridge for a week.  I knew that, while it was still good, it wasn’t getting any better and needed to be used. As far as I’m concerned, winter squash and miso soup are made for each other. For one thing, winter squash is in season as the days grow cooler, just as our appetites turn to soup.  For another, their natural sweetness contrasts wonderfully with miso’s mellow saltiness. And while all winter squash are versatile and easy to like, I find red kuris to be especially sweet and flavorful (I’ve written about them here). Having said that, if you find an especially good looking butternut, kabocha, or buttercup squash at your market, any of those would be a fine substitute. You’ll also appreciate that, aside from the squash and  green onions, the ingredients in this recipe  you probably have in your pantry already. Try this soup for breakfast, lunch or dinner– it’s a comforting addition to any meal.

———–

 

Continue reading

If The Weather Turns Cool, This Black Bean Chili Will Warm You Up

———–

———–

As the weather turns cooler, hearty soups, such as this black bean chili, become the centerpiece of lunches I serve to groups on retreat. I first developed this recipe when I cooked at Café Kardamena, a store-front natural foods restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota, more than 25 years ago. It was a great seller then, and continues to be well received. Like most soups and stews, it deserves a good bit of simmering time, but it has the advantage of being a one-pot meal.  Serving it with a variety of enticing garnishes on the side makes it an engaging meal for your guests, as each can customize the chili to their own taste. While most chilis feature meat as the main deal, this one stars sweet potatoes, a nutritional powerhouse. All chili goes well with something corny: chips, warm tortillas or cornbread are classic and good accompaniments. And a cool Corona or Dos Equis wouldn’t be wrong either. Continue reading

Stay Cool As A Cucumber With This Easy-to-Make Chilled Soup

————

————

While the rest of the country is finally cooling down, in the Bay Area, right on schedule, indian summer is warming us up. Last weekend was hot in Lake County where I cooked for forty men from the Center for Spiritual Living of Santa Rosa who were on their annual retreat. Hoping to create a light but satisfying lunch, I concocted this chilled cucumber soup. For the omnivores in the crowd, I made it with yogurt and buttermilk. After the jump you will see how I made a vegan version, as well as the salad bar lunch which accompanied this cooling soup.

Continue reading

For a Taste of Morocco, Try This Bold Chickpea and Lentil Soup

———–

———–

Much to my regret, I’ve yet to visit Morocco and experience it’s legendary cuisine in country. The closest I’ve come was to spend a couple of weeks in Tunisia which has a similar, all be it distinct, culinary tradition. Morocco, because of  it’s location and history, is fertile ground for a rich mix of influences: Berber, Arab, Spanish, and French, among them. That my exposure to Moroccan food comes from cookbooks and an occasional restaurant meal, hasn’t stopped me from attempting some evocative Moroccan dishes. On Monday, May 20th, James Holloway and I will be cooking a Mediterranean-Moroccan-themed meal in Palo Alto, starting with chickpea and lentil soup. While similar soups can be found in countries as diverse as India and Mexico, the distinct combination of spices in this recipe marks it as Moroccan. If you’re willing to be just a little bit bold with the seasonings, you’ll be rewarded with an addictive, lively and nourishing soup. Full recipe after the jump.

———–

A year ago I posted this recipe for a Moroccan tagine of saffron potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and sugar snap peas.

———–

Continue reading

You Don’t Have To Be Italian to Love this Zuppa di Lenticchie (Rustic Lentil Soup)

———–

 

———–

Like many cooks, my pantry is stocked with Italian olive oil, Japanese soy sauce, Indian spices, Mexican condiments, Chinese vinegar, and so much more. With such a variety of ingredients at hand, sometimes we end up with a kind of fusion cooking, whether we intend to or not. Take this lentil soup.  It is clearly Italian in inspiration, with garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, parsley and Mediterranean herbs. And yet, I couldn’t resist including Asian elements from my pantry: soy sauce, miso, kombu and umeboshi vinegar, all ingredients I know to be spot on when it comes to building flavor in soups. Your Italian nonna might be spinning in her grave, but I bet she’d love this soup.

One Zuppa di Lenticchie recipe I looked at called for only five ingredients (other than salt and pepper): lentils, garlic, olive oil, parsley and tomatoes, and I’m sure it could be delicious. However, my recipe is a little more complicated.  I consider soups to be a great way to get more veggies into my diet (sometimes I’m a reluctant vegetable eater–plain steamed veggies are not my cup of tea). This may be lentil soup, but it’s built of onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and kale–I’ve used lacinato (dino) kale, but use whatever green you fancy. As for seasoning, miso adds a kind of meaty heartiness that’s especially welcome in cold weather, and umeboshi vinegar and lemon juice are so useful in lightening the taste, that I almost never cook a bean dish which doesn’t employ them.

While this soup is Italian in inspiration, the great variety and versatility of lentils means that they are well represented in cuisines from Bombay to Guadalajara. Combine them with fresh ginger, turmeric and garam masala and serve with chapatis for an Indian meal, or go Mexican with cumin, chipotle, a garnish of avocado and salsa, and a pile of warm tortillas on the side (a recipe for a Oaxacan-style lentil main dish, traditionally served during lent, is here). Thin this soup a little if it’s to be a first course. For an even heartier main dish, stir in a cup of chopped, cooked chestnuts, or serve the soup over a piece of toasted whole grain bread. Cook it down a little bit and serve as a stew over brown rice. You get the idea, that pot at the end of the rainbow–it may just have been filled with lentils. (Full recipe after the jump)

———–

Clockwise from upper left: "French" lentils, red lentils, common green (sometimes "brown") lentils. Photo: user:Justinc via Wikipedia

Continue reading