Saturday, November 21, 2009

Winter Soups

Now that it is officially Cold and Dark outside, I dusted off the pressure cooker this week and started banging out some soups. I love soup, it is one of the most forgiving things to come off the stove. Both recipes give two people two helpings.

Winter Soup, Var 1

This soup is light and works well with other courses-- like salad and a starch. I tried cooking lentils by themselves on Monday, but I didn't add enough water and they turned out slightly singed (and undercooked at the same time-- oooh the gas!) and in a single, quivering mass. I realized, that with the pressure cooker, the lentils needed plenty of water to swim around in. These lentils stayed nice a separate and quiet.

3/4 c brown lentils
1 c diced butternut squash (1 cm x 1 cm)
1 t Coleman mustard
1 T pepper
pinch of dried chili
1 t ground cumin
1 t paprika
bay leaves
cinnamon leaf
water to fill cooker 2/3

Put ingredients in cooker, and cook for 30 minutes. The broth comes out very light and fragrant. Add salt to taste and more pepper. Garnish with yogurt. The "cinnamon" leaf is from the Indian Grocery, sometimes its called "Cassia". Its very powerful, and gives the soup a slightly cinnamony perfume, which I find quite nice.

Var 2 (a bit richer and thicker and daalish)

3/4 c red lentils
1 c butternut squash, diced
1 c broccoli, diced (leaves, stem and all)
2 T ghee
1 T whole black mustard seeds
pinch of coriander and cumin seeds
1 t Ras al Hanout (I meant to grab the Garam Masala, but was too lazy to find it)
pinch of dried chili
bay leaves
cinnamon leaf
kombu (for digestion, mostly. it dissolves entirely)
Water to fill cooker 2/3

Grind cumin and coriander seeds and toss in pot with ghee and mustard. Cook it until the mustard is popping. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add salt to taste. Garnish with soft goat cheese (it dissolves when you stir it in, giving a nice piquancy and creaminess) and a dash of Cholula.

No reason to fuss about the specific spices or go out and get them, if you are that inspired. I added them mostly because I am too lazy to maintain a stash of stock (veggie, canned, boxed or otherwise) and I don't want the broth to taste like hot water. Every once in a while I try to save chicken parts to make stock with, but I never get around to it. If you do buy anything, the cinnamon leaf is really nice and worth the trip.

Yesterday I cooked a chicken for the first time since I got Pregnancy Nose. I got an easy recipe out of the Clay Pot Cook book, and it was worth the 90 minute wait.

Paraphrased Orange Chicken

1 chicken that will fit in your clay pot
2 tangerines (keep the peels for zest)
soy sauce and ponzu
5 spice
1/2 of orange juice (i didn't have any, so I added ponzu sauce instead)

Soak the pot for the usual (15 minutes).
Meanwhile, crush a quantity of garlic, peel and section the tangerines, rinse the bird (saying a prayer for its soul), trim the fat, etc.
Smear the garlic, salt and pepper on the inside of the cavity and stuff with tangerines.
Combine soy sauce/orange juice/ponzu and spices.
Put the bird in the pot breast down, pour sauce on top, sprinkle with zest, cover and put in cold oven. 480 Degrees for 80 minutes.
Take out pot, remove cover, skim off juice (gravify it with cornstarch while bird browns), return bird to oven to brown for ten minutes.

yum yum yum

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I blog about life and soup, but mostly soup.