Monthly Archives: July 2013

Julia’s Vegetable Soup

This week, I’m without a kitchen and didn’t do anything exciting with the farm share food. However, I found some old drafts that I never published, so I hung on to them for this very occasion. Plus, it’s a reminder to me how good this soup really is.

Being into food, the family all agreed to see Julie and Julia when it came out. A strange family movie, but then we’re kind of strange. The Julie character was not particularly likable (no offense to Amy Adams, who I actually like) but the Julia character was so much fun! I’ve since read My Life in France, which is just as inspiring as what we saw in the movies. So, of course, we also bought the books. I made my husband the Beef Bourguignon once. ONCE. On paper, it didn’t look like it would be so hard, but once you got into it, you realized there were parts where it might say “add the pearl onions” and that meant you had to prepare the pearl onions, which that recipe was on a completely different page. I’ve never made it again, in part because my daughter and I are now vegetarians. The beef bourguignon, the coq au vin and the meatloaf are the dishes my husband misses the most.

So, this week I challenged everyone to pick a meal. Husband went with a tomato sauce from the Delicious Memories cookbook (he added his own bacon.) I went with a paella. And the kid picked out the vegetable soup from the Julia Child book. I admit some trepidation after the beef bourguignon, but this was not so bad to make! Turns out I was only had to buy carrots and potatoes and I had the rest on hand. I did make a few tweaks, which I’ll note.

Put in a pot and boil gently for 40 minutes:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 cups carrots (aka one batch organic carrots)
  • 2 cups potatoes (aka two baking potatoes)
  • 2 cups leeks (aka one batch leeks)
  • 1 cup barley (she called for broken spaghetti noodles in step 2, but I assumed this was to not scare the 1950s suburban housewife and went with barley instead.)
  • 1 T salt

20 minutes before serving, add:

  • 1 16 oz bag frozen cut green beans (can use fresh but it’s January, so we went with frozen)
  • 1 can Great Northern white beans (or, do what I did: soak the beans in the morning, cook for 3 minutes in my beloved pressure cooker)
  • 1/3 cup panko (called of a crumbled piece of stale bread)
  • Pepper
  • Tumeric and smoked paprika, about a teaspoon each (she suggests a pinch of saffron. Have you seen the cost of saffron??)

Make a pistou (no I don’t know what that is, but make it anyway) by pureeing in blender/food processor:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 cups fresh basil or a T dried (or a handful of frozen from the summer harvest)
  • 1/4 c olive oil

Add a cup of broth then pour all that in the soup and serve. Surprisingly creamy considering the small amount of dairy in this. (My husband did go “you don’t put cheese in vegetable soup!” but he didn’t complain when he ate it. I merely said “we’re following Julia here.”) I guess the potatoes and the breadcrumbs help out in the creamy department.

A definite keeper and I think we were done in about an hour.

Baba Ghannouj

Baba Ghannouj

With feta and olives!

Last week, I had a zucchini and an eggplant and was wondering what I should make. So, instead of heading to the internets, I started at my bookshelf and found The Balanced Plate, by Renee Loux, which is a book I got from McClure’s here in town, which sells used (and new) books.

When I bought this book, I didn’t know much about it and it was a little too green for my tastes. Now that I’m a vegetarian, I love it! It’s one of these books that gets in depth about basic ingredients, how it is made, what to look for and what nutrients or benefits you get from eating said basic ingredient.  Bonus: this one had a recipe for Baba Ghannouj that needed one eggplant and one zucchini. (Well OK it called for two each, but I halved it.)

The family LOVED it, with a few critiques and when I got the farm share this week, again I had an eggplant and a zucchini. Why not do it again?

In part, because I forgot where I got the recipe and had to wing it. Still, that turned out OK again. So, merging what I did the first time with what I did the second time, you get this recipe:

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika

Cut the zucchini and the eggplant in half lengthwise and  brush with olive oil and salt. Put face down on a baking pan with parchment paper and bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees. (The first time, we did this on the grill, which worked ok. Oven is better.) Take the chopped onion and the garlic bulb (just chop off the top) and put that in a foil pack with a little olive oil and put that in the oven with the eggplant and zucchini.

Remove from oven and let rest until you can pick it up. In the meantime, heat a skillet and add the sesame seeds and cumin seeds (the second time, I forgot the cumin and used walnuts, which was OK but the cumin will give it flavor) until fragrant. Add those to the food processor and process until ground.

Scoop out the eggplant and the zucchini from the rind and put in the food processor. Peel the garlic (I usually just squeeze the garlic out the top) and add that with the onion,  paprika, lemon juice and salt. Puree until smooth.

Serve with flatbread and feta and maybe even olives!

Next week, I am not cooking because I’m getting a new kitchen. I’ll post pix when it’s done. Wish me luck! In the interim, I found a few recipes hidden in drafts that I’ll publish at some point.

Zucchini Couscous

Zucchini couscous

The tomato/kale version

As with any summer garden or farm share, you’re gonna get some zucchini. Fortunately, we like zucchini, but you do end up having to be creative about how your’e going to use it.

So, I concluded it’d be good paired with couscous. And, I figured it’d be good with some tofu. So here’s what I did:

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1.5 pounds of zucchini and squash
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil (enough for stir frying, I usually don’t measure, but put enough to coat the pan)
  • pinch of Chinese five spice (or a teaspoon, again a guess)
  • A tablespoon of soy sauce
  • half a tablespoon (or less sesame oil)
  • A splash of lemon juice
  1. Make the couscous and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil and add the onion until it is translucent. Then, add the garlic.
  3. Add the zucchini and toss until covered with the oil. Then, add the spice and liquids toss again. Then, the tofu and continue to stir fry until the zucchini is somewhat soft, but still crunchy.
  4. I added this mixture to the couscous.
  5. Now, then I did something that I didn’t really think through, so I add it as an optional step: I added chia seeds. I forgot that the chia seeds swell in water, which is kind of what they did. So, I added some feta and it kind of created a sauce and it turned out to be quite good!

Naturally, the next week I got even more zucchini, so I thought I’d make it again, since my husband did not get to try it. But, I made a few changes:

  1. I added two small kale leaves, since it looks small when I put the zucchini in the pan.
  2. I left out the chia seeds AND the cheese, in part because I was out of feta.
  3. I added a chopped up tomato near the end.

Also delicious! I’ve concluded you can make just about anything with soy sauce and sesame oil and it’s going to be good.