Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Perfect Soup

Trey likes to tell people how that when we met, I couldn’t boil water and that now I’ve turned into a mighty fine cook. I can’t disagree with this except for the “couldn’t boil water” part, but I was super fearful in the kitchen and aside from a delicious salmon-under-the-broiler, pasta and shit grilled on the Single Girl’s Mini George Foreman Grill I was content to let Trey (who is an excellent cook!) do the cooking in our house. But then when we went vegan, that changed for me. I started reading cookbooks and noticing how things were put together.

My palate has changed a great deal since I’ve been married, and from the insane Laverne and Shirley days of living with Hope in our railroad girl flat, making codeine-cough syrup infused sangria with Yellowtail Shiraz and fruit cocktail: or ordering PBR, Marlboro Lights and tater tots from Anytime. That was an incredibly happy period of my life, and also sort of a springboard to the more grounded happiness I have now. One of the nicest things about being with Trey is that I feel I have become so much more creative all the time – not necessarily in the sense of writing mind-blowing music all day long, but in the sense of having more ideas and immediately wanting to manifest them right away, whether it is a silly song, or a blog, or an outfit, or a crafty project, and now it’s about what we will have for dinner. The freedom to be myself has become the freedom to let my body-mind make the zillion little connections it is wired to do all day long. When I figured out that I actually had a pretty sharp palate and that no one was stopping me from saying every five minutes “OMG it’s like ___________!!!” and realizing that just as being in a band has improved my ear by a factor of zillions, so that I realize there’s so many little gifts in every song – like, I’d never really heard basslines before, or hearing a bit of shared DNA between songs (like that one guitar hit in No Cars Go that is a direct lift from the Police’s Walking On The Moon!) – my ability to taste things and think of nice ways to combine them has improved, too.

A few months ago I was trying to figure out how to put peppercorns in the grinder and absent-mindedly ate one. Ouch --- MMMM! Suddenly I flashed on dinner before prom in 10th grade at this fancy place in the Gannett Building with a view of the Potomac: I had ordered the chicken breast with black cherries and cracked pepper, feeling SUPER sophisticated I could appreciate such an exotic combination. Wait, I thought -- I wonder if I could recreate that with tofu? And then I did! I modified my favorite baked tofu recipe to swap out the white wine in the marinade for rosé, and dredged the tofu pieces in a ½ and ½ mixture of cornstarch and black pepper, and then paved the baking dish with a layer of halved and pitted black cherries, and served it over couscous. I think with an arugula salad, to balance out the sweetness of the cherries. It was awesome!

Anyway, yesterday at work I felt myself totally on the verge of a urinary tract infection and feeling generally cranky and sick. Since cooking calms me down, I decided on my way home to make something that would make me feel better, with a lot of garlic. I thought I would make a garlic potato soup and eat kimchee with it, as that combo has staved of sickness for me a bunch of times: but then I got inspired in the kitchen and came up with this, which Trey declared “the best soup ever!” I would have taken a picture but we ate it all!! The best part was, the parsley totally gives you a high – you can feel yourself getting less sick when you eat this, as it’s full of vitamins and the parsley’s vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron from everything else.

Here is the recipe:

1 large onion, diced-ish (whatever kind of onion you like best)
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic
2 medium russet or Idaho potatoes (if you can, get organic so you can leave the skins on)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
2 cups veggie broth (I used a bullion cube and it was amazing)
1 can pink beans (or whatever beans), mostly drained
¼ tsp paprika
Salt and pepper

In saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add onion and cook until softening, about 5 minutes.

Cut potatoes into roughly 1 inch chunks. (if you can, leave the skins on for extra vitamins.) Add broth, paprika, garlic cloves and potatoes: stir a few times, then cover and allow to come to a boil. Once soup has reached a bubbly boil, reduce heat slightly and allow to cook covered for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

When potatoes are soft, take a potato masher and mash and stir the soup, mostly pulverizing the potato pieces and garlic cloves so that what you have in the pot is fairly consistent in texture. Add the beans and cover: let cook for about 10 minutes.

When then 10 minutes are almost done, cut off the stems of the parsley and chop up the entire bunch into small pieces. The yield should be 1 ½ - 2 cups. Add to soup, stir a few times, and remove from heat. Serve (extra good with ground pepper and a little nutritional yeast on top!)


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