Japanese…..y Soup!

The other day I found miso paste in my refrigerator.  I obviously forgot about it because normally I use those type of things right up!  It was unopened and something I picked up from an Asian market not too long ago.  Instead of making ol’ traditional miso soup, I cooked up this asian inspired sauté with miso broth.  It was so delicious, I ended up making it the very next day for a dinner guest.  It’s quite fast, healthy, and tasty!  And no really obscure, hard-to-find, asian ingredients required.

Japanese-Style Chickpeas and Vegetables in Miso Broth

2 Tbsp oil
1 very large green onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
I large carrot, sliced diagonally
1 large bell pepper, cut in 2-inch strips
1 16-oz can chickpeas
2 heaping Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Five spice powder*
Couple dashes of hot sauce
¾ cup white wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups water

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the green onion and garlic, sauté 3-5 minutes over medium-low until the onion is soft.  Add the carrot and bell pepper, sauté another 5 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, sauté another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the miso paste, hoisin sauce, dried basil, five-spice powder, hot sauce, white wine, and salt and pepper.  Simmer on low until the wine reduces to about 1/3 of a cup and the mixture is coated in a thick liquid, but not too liquidy (the carrots and bell pepper should be slightly crunchy and al dente).  Add the water and simmer on low uncovered 15 minutes or until steaming hot.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.

*An asian spice whose main ingredients are star anise, cloves, cassia, Szechwan pepper and fennel seeds.  Can be found in most stores that have a good variety of spices.  This is one brand:

Colorado Peach Time (aka soup time)!

There’s nothing like coming home.  Home truly is where the heart is.  And for me that’s Colorado – where I spent my childhood, my youth, my life!  This place has shaped me, and that’s why I love to come back here.

Summer time in Colorado not only brings the most amazing sunsets, afternoon rain showers, picture-perfect farmer’s markets, wonderful summer meals on the deck, but also a bounty of produce.  And nothing compares to one item that is grown right here – Colorado Peaches.  They really do taste different than any other kind of peach.  That’s why, lately, I have been taking advantage of their bounty eating as many of them as I can before I go back to Costa Rica, where I currently live until May 2011.

(Summer meal of salmon and crab sliders with sauteed garden beet greens and zucchini with parmesan):

A recipe was taped to my parent’s cupboard when I got home, as many new and current recipes are for a short time until they are made, and as many have been since the 1980s I’m sure.  (left side: inside of cabinet=recipes from the 1980s, right side: outside of cabinet, new and intriguing recipes).

This recipe, though I could not decipher where it was cut out from, judging from the style and text, it seems to have been cut out from an old Gourmet magazine. Intrigued by peaches in a soup, I made this recipe once, as is, and twice, doctored up.  Here is my doctored up version of Chilled Colorado Peach Soup formerly known as Peach Gazpacho.

Chilled Colorado Peach Soup (adapted from Gourmet magazine?)

-3/4 cup water
-5 ripe peaches, preferably Colorado peaches
-1/4 cup cucumber
-1 garlic clove
-2 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar
-generous amounts of course ground salt and pepper
-3 dashes of tobacco
-2 tablespoons parsley, basil or cilantro

Place all ingredients in a food processor an blend until well combined.
Chill in fridge at least an hour, enjoy garnished with fresh herbs, olive oil or chopped avocado.

Can be served in small cups as an appetizer or in bowls as part of the main course.

Something savory….soup!

When it comes to food, everyone has their tastes.  Savory, sweet, bitter, you name it.  And on that spectrum of tastes, people seem to lie far to one side or the other.  On my spectrum, I have a propensity to be faaaaaar beyond the sweet end.  It’s true, I crave healthy sweet treats – honey in my tea, marmalade on my toast, a bite of organic, dark chocolate here and there, and home-baked sweets constantly, and I’m known to always have some home-baked goods on hand (great for those unexpected visitors).  Every breakfast of mine includes something sweet like honey, marmalade, cereal, smoothies.  Give me oatmeal and pancakes over eggs any day, unless of course they include a sweet, creamy cheese.

I’ve realized that nearly every post on this blog thus far has been something sweet, breakfasty, desserty, snacky.  So, for this post, I’m going to give you a bit of my savory side of life…something I create daily for lunches and dinners, but never quite feel the urge to post.  A friend inspired me to do so.

I know we’re coming into Spring and most people aren’t thinking about soup – frozen life is no longer blanketed in snow, the flowers are beginning to bloom, the sun is showing its face after being in-hiding for 6 months, the birds are singing, and drops of rain may be falling here and there.  But I am thinking about soup these days.  I love soup any time of year.  It is pure comfort food that warms the body and soul.  So, I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do.

Ginger Red Lentil Soup with Basil Cream

20 large basil leaves, very finely minced
1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
pinch of salt

To make the Basil cream, mix all in a small bowl, let sit, chilling until ready for use.

2 cups red split lentils
7 cups water
2 vegetable bullion cubes (for 4 cups of H20)
3 Tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium carrot minced

2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 small can tomato paste
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper

Rinse lentils until water until water is no longer murky.  In a large saucepan brings lentils and water to a boil.  Add bullion, ginger and carrot and reduce to a simmer, covered for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in separate pan, toast curry powder until fragrant over medium-low heat.  Set aside.  Add butter to same skillet, add onions and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add tomato paste, then toasted curry powder.  Mix well.  Add yogurt until thoroughly mixed.

Add onion mixture to soup.  Stir well. Can add more water to your liking (I liked it rather thick).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with a dollop of basil cream, and enjoy with warm crusty bread.