monster vs. monster

soup love
July 14, 2010, 6:01 pm
Filed under: food | Tags: , , ,

After climbing a mountain this morning, I did not expect to spend three hours of my day in the kitchen chopping peppers and onions, sniffling, and listening to folk music. But that’s what I did, and it was awesome. The fruits of my labor? Corn Potato Poblano Soup with Black Bean Quinoa Salad. Made from scratch, with farmer’s market veggies, by my own two hands. An avocado would have tied the two dishes together perfectly, but alas, we were out. I don’t care. I am still a domestic goddess.

The other day at Issues I picked up a copy of Souplove by Oaklander Rebecca Stevens (illustrations by Nabil Samadani). This incredible, simple, self-published little book provides 3 soup recipes for each season: one smooth and easy, one brothy and veggie-filled, and one bean- or grain-based. The recipes are all vegan and beginner -friendly, and ingredients can all be acquired at the farmer’s market. I love the idea behind this book. I prefer to shop local and seasonal, but I tend to fall rapidly into food ruts, and by the end of the season I am desperate for imported fruit and weird new veggies. I think this recipe book will help: I don’t have to do any mental work since Stevens matches soups to seasons, I can totally handle one new recipe a month, and I can start working with unfamiliar ingredients without feeling stumped. Fennel, I’m looking at you.

I decided on the brothy summer selection, since I have been itching to get my hands onto peppers and I’ve never worked with poblano (or, for that matter, corn cobs) before. Shaving the corn was a very empowering experience; if you’ve ever seen me wield a knife, you will know that it was also pretty terrifying and death-defying and I am grateful no one else was in the room. The two best parts of this soup, for me, were first that it uses very few spices (oregano, salt, a pinch of cayenne) which means it’s low on the confusion scale, and second that it uses a half cup of white wine, which means that you have almost a full bottle leftover to take to the park in the afternoon. If you’re into that.

The recipe tells you to roast the pepper over an open flame until it is blackened and blistered. I gotta say, I held back. I’m cooking in someone else’s house, and I already live in fear of the fire gene bequeathed to me by my maternal relatives. So we have fear of fire, plus fear of fire in someone else’s kitchen, someone who has been kind enough to offer his futon for a full month. Hesitance is necessitated, I think. I still got plenty of poblano flavor, but the skin didn’t come off as easily as it otherwise would have. Oh well, it came off in the end, no skin off my nose. Next time, though, I’m going to throw that puppy straight into the flame. Bangs be damned – or singed, as the case may be.

All told, to my surprise and delight, my first soup ever was a total success. The flavors blended, the potatoes got all buttery and mushy, and I didn’t even burn my fingers until I chopped a chipotle for my quinoa. Also, despite its brothiness (and I still can’t believe I made stock out of corn cobs!), this soup is super filling. Rebecca Stevens, you are a recipe-writing genius. I’ll be trying the other two summer soups, Tomato Fennel and Summer Squash Dill, before I leave Oakland. By which I mean, before I have to leave BW’s fully stocked pantry and spice cabinet behind.