Monday, February 14, 2011

Potato and Turnip Soup AKA "Neeps and Tatties Soup"

I had to skip to the picture of the soup right away. Keep reading!
Eating locally in the middle of February can be a challenge, but with the help of Boston Organics' Dogma Box, it's far from impossible. It's actually pretty amazing how they can manage to deliver my box of organic, locally sourced produce when there's shoulder-high piles of snow on the ground! I give them a ton of credit for sourcing delicious veggies from farmers throughout the northeast, but if it weren't for cookbook authors like Anna Thomas, I'd probably end up composting 1/2 of the veggies that get delivered, because I've never cooked many of the varieties that arrive! 
My last two deliveries have included several types of turnips. Other than roasting them with other root veggies, I didn't know quite what to do with these over-sized radishy things. But you can make soup out of any veggie, right? RIGHT! I found the perfect recipe in Anna Thomas' Love Soup, which I of course adapted to my tastes and refrigerator stock. Here's the result:
Is this a Rutabegas? If so, I included one of those!
2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 lb turnips, peeled and cubed
1 leek, white and light green part, sliced and rinsed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tb butter (olive oil will work, too, but I suggest butter!)
2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh thyme)
8 cups vegetable broth
1-2 tsp sea/kosher salt (sea salt is saltier!)
1/3 c fresh (or frozen) chopped parsley

Tip: Peel Turnips with a Pairing Knife
Put potatoes, turnips, 1 tsp sea salt, and vegetable broth (add water or more broth if needed to cover) into a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, stir, and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until turnips and potatoes are tender (aprox 20-30 minutes).
Turnips and Potatoes into the Pot!
1/2 Gal of Home-made Veggie Broth
While potatoes and turnips are simmering, melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, onions, thyme, and 1 tsp kosher salt and saute over medium heat, stirring every couple minutes. When they start to brown, add the garlic, and continue to saute for several more minutes, stirring and lowering heat if necessary.

Once they're slightly browned and the potatoes and turnips are fork tender (go ahead and eat a few to test), stir the onion/leek mixture into the soup along with freshly ground black pepper to taste. 
Stir Sauted Onions, Leeks, Garlic & Thyme into Soup. Add Freshly Ground Black Pepper.
Chopped Fresh Frozen Parsley!
You can either stir the fresh chopped parsley into the soup or garnish each bowl with about a tablespoon of the pretty green stuff for a fresh finish.

If you want a richer soup, you can stir about a tablespoon of cream into each bowl. Heavy, Light, or Half and Half all work, so use what suits your taste or what you have on hand.

If you want a thicker soup rather than a brothy one, you can blend for about a minute with an immersion blender. Or, you can blend the entire soup if you prefer a smooth soup. It will taste great no matter what! 
Stir in a drizzle of cream (light, heavy, or 1/2 and 1/2) if you want a richer soup

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sweet Potato and Spinach Soup

I love Asian fusion. Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese, and Japanese veggie soups are so delicious, but I have been intimidated by the exotic flavors in the kitchen. I've acquired tons of Asian ingredients over the last year or two and even bought a couple of cook books... but it still seems so foreign to me.

Now That's One HEALTHY Pot of Soup!
After last night's soup, though, I'm excited to say that I'm making progress! The local sweet potatoes that came in my Boston Organics order on Friday wanted to be in a soup so badly and as I scoured my bookshelf for a new recipe, a few with Asian flavors caught my eye. As always, I didn't have all the ingredients called for in any of the recipes, so I got creative and combined ideas from a couple. The result was unbelievably delicious and super healthy, so of course I had to share!

What REAL Carrots Look Like...

2 tb olive oil (although sesame might have been a better choice!)
3 tb fresh ginger, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, rinsed and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
About a pound of sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 bag baby spinach, rinsed
Ume plum vinegar
Braggs Liquid Aminos
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tb miso paste

Coat the bottom of a large pot with a thin layer of olive or sesame oil. Add onion and leek. Saute for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt.

I Never Use a Whole Ginger Root at Once. Freeze Leftovers!

This Stuff is Awesome!
Stir well to combine all flavors and saute another 5 minutes.
Deglaze pan with a dash of Ume plum vinegar. 

Add sweet potatoes, cover with broth, turn heat to high, cover, and bring to a boil.

That Looks Like About a Pound to you, Right?

Stir, reduce heat to medium, cover, and let cook for 30 - 60
minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender (go ahead and try a few!). Once the potatoes are cooked to perfection, add spinach, turn off heat, and stir until well-combined and wilted.

When's the Last Time You had Some Dark Leafy Greens?!
Add a few dashes of the Ume Plum Vinegar and a few dashes of the Braggs Liquid Aminos. Stir in the miso paste (be sure the heat is off and the soup isn't bubbling. High heat kills all the good-for-you stuff in miso!) Ladle into bowls and garnish with green onions. Add a dash of the ume plum vinegar if you need to kick the flavor up a notch. Enjoy!

So Freaking Delicious!
Ingredient Notes:
Sweet Potatoes are high in beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E. Their balance of protein (4 g per cup), and fiber (7 g per cup) make a filling source of sustainable energy. They even pack a little calcium and iron! They're said to fight cancer, aid digestion, prevent fatigue, and are good for the respiratory system as well.Indigenous to Central and South America, they now rank 5th as once of the world's most important food staples (after rice, wheat, corn and cassava). They can be grown in just about any climate, making them a great sustainable source of nutrition in the winter months! Oh, and they're not at all related to potatoes!
Spinach is known for its iron, but as soon as you cook it, your body's ability to absorb that iron is drastically reduced, so add it to the soup at the very end to maximize it's positive properties. It's also high in vitamins A and C, provides vital amino acids, and a decent amount of calcium and potassium, not to mention chlorophyll. It's indigenous to central Asia, but is cultivated around the world in a variety of climates. It's recommended for cancer, stress, and fatigue. It does contain oxalic acid, which can iritate the digestive system, kidneys, and stomach if consumed in excess.
Ginger fights inflammation and upset stomachs, promotes circulation and digestion, is great for your immune system and is known to fight cancer. Buy it fresh. It keeps for a while and you can peel and freeze what you don't use for later!
Ume Plum vinegar is made from Japanese umeboshi plums. It's good for the liver, aids digestion, and is alkalinizing and antibiotic. Find it with the asian ingredients at your grocery store.
Miso is a living food full of beneficial enzymes and has a rich, salty flavor. The darker it is, the longer it has been fermented and the stronger the flavor. In this recipe, I used red miso paste. You'll find good miso in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Try your Asian market if you don't see it at your regular grocer. Powdered miso doesn't offer the same nutritional benefits!
Bragg liquid aminos is a condiment that tastes like soy sauce (a little less salty with a little sweetness). It is full of aminos, the building blocks of protein! Find it in the natural food aisle of your grocery store.



Clean Food by Terry Walters

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet and Sweaty Vegetarian Chili

running out of places to put it!
As I was shoveling my way out of the third or fourth "snowpocolypse" of this winter, the thought of CHILI popped into my mind and wouldn't leave. Given the 8 inches of snow that fell and the lack of places to put it, I thought about chili for a long time. What I love about chili, other than how delicious, healthy, and filling it is, is that it's usually made from ingredients I always stock in the pantry. This time, however, all I could muster up were the spices, some dried beans (too impatient to cook them. really need to order pressure cooker. ordering pressure cooker now.), and a can of tomato paste. So I ran to the store and here is what followed:
I grew those peppers!
2 tb olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2-4 dried chili peppers, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
1 cup corn (canned or frozen)
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
spices to taste: oregano, chili powder, cayenne powder, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, garlic powder, cumin, kosher salt
the line-up of all-star ingredients!
onions, garlic, carrots
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, a pinch of kosher salt, 1 tsp oregano, and chopped chili peppers. Turn heat to medium high and saute about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add garlic, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Cover and saute another 10 minutes. Add chopped red pepper, cover and saute another 5. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and corn and turn heat to high. You may want to add a cup of water with the tomato paste if you prefer your chili thinner. Season to taste with spices. I recommend starting with 1 tsp each of chili powder, cayenne powder, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp of cumin and garlic powder. Stir well, cover, and turn heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 - 90 minutes, stirring (and tasting) every 10 and lowering heat if necessary. Add spices as you go 1/2 tsp at a time until you reach your desired
level of heat!
+ sweet potato and red bell pepper
Note: if you don't have dried hot peppers, just use more red pepper flakes, cayenne and chili powders! Hot sauce works, too!

When you're ready to serve it, garnish with your favorite tortilla chips (try Food Should Taste Good in Sweet Potato, JalapeƱo, or Multigrain), and some shredded cheddar (opt for one from farms closest to where you live - I'm in Boston, so I choose Vermont or NY over Wisconsin). Sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and chives (or green onions) also make excellent garnishes, as does sliced or chunked avocado!
get in my belly!
Serve alone or over brown rice or quinoa or with a baked potato! A bowl of chili is a complete meal by itself, full of protein and vitamins, but if you're serving up dinner to a hungry family, it couldn't hurt to cook some rice or bake some potatoes, right?! Leftovers get better by the day and keep in the fridge for up to a week. Yay for easy and healthy lunch later in the week!
Note to meat-eaters: If you're new to vegetarian chili, the variety of tastes and textures in this recipe should help you say buh-bye to the saturated fat, high cholesterol, colon-clogging, methane-emitting, and gasoline consuming byproducts and side effects of beef. Ground turkey, while lower in fat, isn't much better these days. Trust me, skip the rotting flesh and your body will thank you!!