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Sunday, September 27, 2009

grab a spoon: a post on soup

I love a good project. With my absolute favorite season of autumn approaching, a few weeks ago I proposed to Jerms that we begin a culinary endeavor: a new soup every week. We are definitely big fans of soup. Really, what’s not to love? They are endlessly adaptable, as simple or complicated as you want them to be, healthy, beautiful, restorative, easily adaptable to vegetarian eating, and bountiful enough to offer leftovers, which are often even more delicious than the initial bowl.

So far our Autumn 2009 Tour of New Soups has covered Veganomicon's Creamy Tomato (the creamy texture comes from pureed potato), Ina Garten's Rosemary and White Bean, Split Pea from the same book, and Chickpea Noodle. The final soup in that list, all of which we prepared vegan, was especially fantastic. I think it's replaced my go-to soup for veg*ns who have colds, flus, and other soup-healing ailments. I modified it slightly: I skipped the mushrooms because we didn’t have any, doubled the carrots, used water since we had no mirin in the house, used soybean miso (the entire 1/3 cup), and used whole wheat noodles, the “Amish” kind that often come in a clear plastic bag (such noodles are the kind of thing my mom sends home with me after a visit at my parents' house, aw). I also added chopped fresh kale at the end, which wilted nicely and upped the nutritional value.

One other new soup we've tried so far is a cheater, I suppose, but nevertheless Trader Joe’s 17 Bean and Barley is adaptable and healthy, with the ease of only requiring the addition of your chosen ingredients (or following their handy suggestions). Plus, you can try and identify the 17 beans while eating dinner. Fun!

Other favorite soups in our repertoire include Chili (served in the Cincinnati style, on top of spaghetti); Hearty Tomato with Lemon and Rosemary; Pinto Bean for when we want to eat like Buddhist monks; Lentil; Corn Chowder; a simple vegetable that starts with V8 juice and any veg we have on hand, plus additions like barley and edamame; and Garlic and Potato, my former stand-by soup for sipping out of a mug when feeling under the weather. Also, I highly recommend Better Than Bouillon for vegetable broth. It's economical, has very little packaging, and the taste adds a rich base to any soup.

I will write an update as our new-soup-making project continues. Any suggestions for ones we should try?

(Photo of beet soup taken last March in San Francisco, at Brenda's, where I shared a delightful meal with Rebecca, Lu, and Jason.)