The first food that Derek ever cooked for me was a bowl of lentil soup. He very carefully opened up a can of Progresso lentil soup, and then worked long and hard to “cook” it (in the microwave of course). It was piping hot and delicious.
Both of us still love Progresso vegetable classics lentil soup, but we can’t get it here in Germany. It’s probably for the best though, as I try not to buy canned foods, plus the sodium levels are through the roof. Still, we miss it, and so I decided to try to make it myself. I looked online for a copycat recipe, but couldn’t find anything that seemed promising. So I just took a look at the ingredient list and nutritional label and gave it a crack. I haven’t had the real thing in years, so I could be off, but to both Derek and I my soup tasted just like the real thing. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)
There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.
I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe. Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.
This is another recipe featured on Food52’s Genius Recipes page. It’s from Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Every Day. I chose it because I had some chickpeas and homemade vegetable broth to use up, and a student of mine from Iran got me a boatload of saffron as a gift. Also, it looked pretty easy, and I needed to make a quick lunch that was suitable for both Alma and me. Read the rest of this entry »
My sister loves this recipe for a yam and peanut stew with kale, and has recommended it to me several times. She mentioned it again last week and coincidentally I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand (everything but the roasted and salted peanuts and the scallions). Hanaleah said that I could leave off both, since they’re just garnishes. So I decided to make it for dinner.
What have I been cooking lately? Not much. I just haven’t been in the mood. Derek has been cooking some old standbys like whore’s pasta and chilaquiles and sesame noodles, and I’ve been making a lot of really simple dishes like stir-fries or roasted veggies or big pots of beans. But I have tried two new recipes, which I’ll blog about here, briefly.
Naomi Pomeroy’s Celery Velouté With Spring Herb Salsa Verde. It’s rare that a vegetarian recipe wins a challenge on Top Chef, so I was excited to try this recipe for a creamy celery soup. Without the salsa verde, the soup was not that exciting. I generally like celery, but the soup smelled a little too strongly of cooked celery for me to really love it. It was better with the salsa verde, which added some acid and non-celery flavors. Still, overall I wasn’t so impressed. It was basically a celery vichyssoise (i.e., using celery instead of potatoes). But Derek liked it a lot more than me. I had a few bowls over a couple of meals, but he single-handedly finished off most of the pot.
Gluten-free pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins. I don’t eat gluten-free, but I bought some coconut flour and was looking for recipes to try it out with. I chose this one because the photos looked very good and the comments were generally pretty positive. I doubled the recipe to make 12 muffins. Some of the comments said the muffins were greasy so I cut down on the oil by about a tablespoon and used an extra tablespoon of pumpkin puree. I reduced the maple syrup to 1/4 cup and halved the amount of chocolate chips, because some reviewers complained that the muffins were too sweet. When the muffins first came out of the oven the texture was very odd, but by the next day they had improved. They were definitely sweet with plenty of chocolate chips (despite the halving), but not very pumpkin-y or spice-y. The outside of the muffin was a bit greasy. Derek didn’t like them at all, so I ended up giving some to a friend and eating the rest by myself. They weren’t bad, but I don’t think I’ll make this exact recipe again. Maybe next time I’ll try a recipe that calls for both coconut flour and almond flour.
I liked the miso tahini turnip soup from 101cookbooks so much I decided to try another soup recipe from her blog, this time for “immunity soup,” built on a garlic, ginger, pepper broth. The recipe calls for white pepper but I didn’t have any, so I just used black pepper. I assumed the only difference was cosmetic, but maybe white pepper actually tastes different, because this recipe was a let down. I thought the soup would be wasabi-up-your-sinuses intense, but we found it bland, even after adding more black pepper. I really like clean, brothy soups in general, but this one was unsatisfying. It didn’t taste bad, it was just boring and a bit bland. Maybe if I’d been able to find some pea shoots they would have brought the whole dish together? I doubt it.
It’s turnip time! My farmer’s market here in Saarbruecken is full of beautiful bunches of white turnip, with the greens still attached. The name for these turnips is Mairübchen, literally “little May root” or “May root-let.” But they’re not little. Each turnip is about 2 to 3.5 inches in diameter. I’ve been buying lots of turnips just so I can eat the greens, but I had to figure out what to do with the turnips themselves.
I’ve never been a huge turnip fan, and I don’t have so many go-to recipe. I like them raw in salads, in soup (with leeks, potatoes, and chard), and in stews (like this tagine or Thai curry). But I had one last delicata squash from the fall that was turning soft and needed to get used up, and some leftover brown rice int the fridge, so rather than making an old recipe, I decided to try a new recipe for miso tahini soup from 101cookbooks. I love Peter Berley’s miso-based tortilla soup with avocados, so the addition of avocado didn’t seem that odd. But a miso soup with tahini and lemon juice? I could not imagine it. Read the rest of this entry »
I found some small red beans in the Turkish store near my house last week. I snapped them up, excited to add something a bit different to my usual rotation (black beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, various kinds of dals, chickpeas, and split mung beans). I cooked up a big pot of red beans, then had to figure out how to make a full dinner out of them. I searched all my cookbooks for recipes for red beans (with the convenient eatyourbooks.com website) and found this 101cookbooks recipe for a farro and bean stew. Amazingly, I had (almost) all the ingredients.
The recipe looked pretty plain. It’s just veggies and beans and grains without any spices or herbs, not even garlic—the only seasoning is salt. So I decided to use the Bärlauch I had in the fridge to make a Bärlauch pesto. I tried to look up what Bärlauch is called in the states, and found a number of translations. Wikipedia says “Allium ursinum – known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic – is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia.” It’s a broad, bright green leaf that tastes strongly of garlic, and (as I discovered this week) lasts quite a long time in the fridge! I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge all week and it didn’t seem at all the worse for the waiting. Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t believe it, but I haven’t posted a proper recipe to this blog since Spring 2013. At this point my list of recipes to blog about has grown so long that I have despaired of ever posting them all. So instead I decided to just do one quick smorgasbord post. Read the rest of this entry »
I was in California last week visiting my friends Spoons and Kathy, and I noticed that they had a copy of Peter Berley’s newest cookbook, The Flexitarian Table. They said they never use it and that I could take it with me to Germany. Although the cookbook isn’t actually vegetarian, every menu has a vegetarian option, so it’s very vegetarian friendly. This recipe for navy bean, fresh pea, and leek soup caught my eye because it calls for sauerkraut, and (under my mother’s telephonic tutelage) I just finished making a big batch of sauerkraut right before I left for California. On my return, faced with a near-empty fridge brandishing two quart jars of sauerkraut, I decided to give this recipe a try. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve never actually had hot and sour soup before, so I’m not sure what it’s supposed to taste like. But Derek has fond memories of it, so I thought I’d give this recipe from the AMA cookbook a try. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek really likes jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes) when he gets them at restaurants. Although I’m not as big of a fan, I have had some very tasty sunchokes at restaurants in the States. I’ve never seen sunchokes on a German menu, but I often see sunchokes (labeled Topinambur) at my local Turkish store, so someone here must eat them. I’ve tried cooking them myself a few times, but the texture has always turned out quite odd, so I stopped buying them. But I’ve recently been re-inspired to learn how to cook with jerusalem artichokes, as I’ve been reading about how healthy they are. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe from The Vegetarian Table: Italy (by Julia Della Croce) is for a Sardinian version of pasta e fagioli. It didn’t look too exciting to me. I like all the ingredients, but there didn’t seem to be anything to give it punch. But a friend told me it was one of his favorite recipes from the cookbook, so I figured I’d give it a try. It turned out it was delicious—much more than the sum of its parts. I have no idea why. Even Derek, who complained bitterly about me making soup again, liked it a lot. Read the rest of this entry »
I have a lot of recipes for lentil soup on my blog already. I have three recipes that call for brown lentils (my mom’s recipe, a simple version with only five ingredients, and a version with quinoa), plus three recipes for red lentil soup (Turkish, curried, and one with lemon and spinach). So I have no idea why I decided to try another pretty basic looking lentil soup recipe. This one comes from Julia Della Croce’s cookbook The Vegetarian Table: Italy. Read the rest of this entry »
The main seasonings in this stew are fresh ginger, sage, and soy sauce—an unusual combination. The recipe is from the winter section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast. The instructions say to cook the wehani (a dark red rice) and the wild rice in a pressure cooker. I don’t have apressure cooker so I just cooked them for longer in a regular pot. Otherwise I followed the recipe carefully, except I added my mushrooms much later than Berley suggests, since I wanted my mushrooms to be firmer. This stew has a lot of vegetables in it: onions, mushrooms, celery, a carrot, winter squash, and one bunch of kale. After sauteing all the aromatics you add the squash chunks and simmer them til almost tender, then the sauteed veggies and the raw kale are added to the pot with the rice, and simmered until the kale is tender. You’re supposed to garnish the stew with toasted pumpkin seeds.
My stew didn’t turn out very stew-like. I think of a stew as chunky soup with a really thick liquid base. But this stew was more like lots of veggies in a little bit of broth. I used butternut squash, and the pieces seemed to either alternately undercooked or totally following apart. Maybe it would have been more stew-like if I had cooked the squash longer, so all the squash pieces were falling apart? Certainly the rice didn’t add much of a stew-like quality. That said, I liked the recipe. It was a bit of a surprise (but not unpleasant) when I bit into a round of sliced ginger! (Berley never says to take the ginger out, so I imagine you’re supposed to eat it?) I added extra sage but didn’t really notice it in stew. The stew didn’t really have a distinctive flavor. It just tasted earthy and like vegetables. But it made a pleasant (if not very filling) dinner on a cold winter night. I wouldn’t rush to make it again, but if I had all the ingredients lying around, I would certainly consider it. But I’d probably add more liquid to make it more of a soup.
Berley pairs this recipe with a romaine salad, but I think it would be better paired with a dish with a bit more protein, to make the meal more filling.
This is another coconut curry with winter vegetables, but this one is from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and I actually made it a few weeks before the recipe I just posted about. Unlike McDermott’s recipe, this one doesn’t call for curry paste. Instead you add the seasonings individually—garlic, jalapeno, ginger, ground coriander seeds, and turmeric. McDermott has you saute the curry paste and onion in some of the coconut milk, but Berley calls for 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Given that there’s a whole can of coconut milk in the recipe, I think I’d use McDermott’s method next time. The previous recipe called for mixed winter vegetables, but this one calls for only one large sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks. Berley doesn’t give a weight for the sweet potato, but he does say that once cut it’s supposed to make 4 cups. That seems like a large sweet potato! Towards the end of cooking Berley’s recipe calls for 1 small bunch of collards greens cut into strips. I can’t get collards here, so I subbed in curly kale. The final step in the recipe is to garnish the stew with cilantro and lime juice.
The soup was paired with a recipe for crispy tempeh strips. The combination sounds good but I couldn’t get myself to deep-fry tempeh. It just seems like such a waste of oil!
Neither Derek nor I cared for this dish very much. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se—it just tasted underseasoned. And unfortunately the kale wasn’t a good substitute for the collards. I guess kale just doesn’t go with these southeast Asian flavors. Although we didn’t like the dish that much, we had a guest over for dinner who quite enjoyed it. He said he doesn’t normally like coconut curries, but this one was excellent!
Back in Pittsburgh I used to make this recipe several times each winter. This dish has all four essential Thai tastes: sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. It tastes just like the curry you’d get in a restaurant, except the addition of vegetable broth results in a lighter dish that’s less overwhelmingly rich. The crunchy cashews make a nice textural contrast to the silky broth and creamy-soft vegetables. Based on a recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Real Vegetarian Thai. Read the rest of this entry »
I already have two go-to red lentil soup recipes (Turkish and curried), but somehow I wasn’t in the mood for either of them, and I decided to try a new recipe instead. This recipe is from 101cookbooks, and based on a recipe from Deborah Madison. I followed the recipe closely except that instead of a bunch of spinach I used a bag of mixed greens (baby spinach, arugula, and baby chard). I didn’t chop the leaves, which was probably a mistake as they ended up a bit stringy. I didn’t serve the soup with brown rice, and we didn’t miss it. We did try it with yogurt, and it seemed good both with and without the yogurt.
I don’t know why the recipe calls for yellow mustard seeds instead of the black ones that most Indian recipes call for. And they’re not popped in hot oil. I’ve actually never cooked with whole yellow mustard seeds before. I had to go out and buy some!
I ended up using the juice of two lemons, which made the soup quite lemony. The first day it was perhaps a bit too much lemon, but as leftovers it was fine — the lemon seemed to mellow down.
This soup is more Indian tasting than my other two red lentil soup recipes. Derek said it tasted similar to other dals I’ve made in the past, but I thought all the lemon juice made it taste a bit unusual. This recipe has a lot of turmeric and salt! I used kosher salt but still I found the soup a tad too salty for my taste. Derek was happy though. He ate the soup for breakfast several days in a row.
I’ll definitely throw this recipe into my red lentil soup rotation.
Update Feb 2013: I recently tried a red lentil and coconut milk soup from Deborah Madison. The recipe is actually titled “fragrant red lentils with basmati rice and romanesco.” In addition to the coconut milk, the lentils are seasoned with ginger, turmeric, jalapeños onions, cayenne, bay leaf, and black mustard seeds. The recipe also calls for romanesco, but I couldn’t find any so I used cauliflower The cauliflower florets are sautéed with the same basic seasonings as the lentils, then everything is combined and garnished with cilantro and yogurt. The recipe was fine, but it was more work than other red lentil recipes I’ve made, without being particularly exciting. I won’t make it again.
It seems to be soup season around here. I picked this recipe (from Rebecca Wood’s cookbook The Splendid Grain) because it called for wild rice, which I almost never use. Wood says that the flavors in this soup are from the mountains of central Greece, and that the soup has “stellar colors and flavors…. a fantastic play of sweet, sour, salty, and pungent”. It’s not Autumn any more, but I had a jar of roasted bell peppers in the pantry, and all the other ingredients are reasonably wintery. If you’re not using jarred bell peppers then you should prepare the peppers a day in advance to give them time to marinate. Read the rest of this entry »
I could have sworn I blogged about this recipe before, but I can’t find any post about it, so here it is again. This is a recipe from the fall section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. Despite the name, the recipe doesn’t actually call for any fennel. At least, not the vegetable. Rather, it calls for fennel seed, which Berley says brings out the natural sweetness in other ingredients. I can’t vouch for that, but I really like fennel seed in savory dishes. I was very excited to try the combination of squash, pear, leeks, ginger, and fennel seeds. Read the rest of this entry »
Butternut squash season is short-lived here in Germany. It seems to be available only for about six weeks, starting in early October. I bought a bunch of butternut squashes, but somehow managed to use them all, save one, by early December! I decided to use my last half of a butternut squash to try this simple soup recipe from the quinoa chapter in Rebecca Wood’s cookbook the Splendid Grain. Wood is an expert on quinoa. She was travelling around Peru and Bolivia researching her book Quinoa: The Supergrain in the mid 80’s, long before almost anyone else in the States had even heard of quinoa.
Derek’s student Scott is always raving about Phở, a vietnamese noodle soup. Since it’s never vegetarian, I’ve never really tried the real thing. Wikipedia says that one of the techniques that distinguishes it from other Asian noodle soups is that charred onions are added to the broth for color and flavor. It also says that the broth is typically made with charred ginger and spices including cinnamon, star anise, black cardamom, coriander seed, fennel seed, and cloves. The soup is also typically served with lots of fresh garnishes, including scallions, white onions, cilantro, Thai basil, fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, and bean sprouts. Some people also add hoisin sauce or chili sauce. Although traditional Pho is not vegetarian, I found a recipe for it in the Vietnamese Fusion book (by Chat Mingkwan) I borrowed from my mom, and I also found a recipe in a Vegetarian Resource Group article on vegetarian travel in Vietnam. Oddly, though, the recipe in the Vietnamese Fusion book didn’t include any dried spices in the broth–just ginger and charred shallots. So I made a mix of the two recipes. My soup came out okay, but the broth needed a lot more spice. Read the rest of this entry »
The summertime soup recipe is from Georgeanne Brennan’s “France: The Vegetarian Table.” Brennan says that tarragon gives this soup a surprise finish that is heightened by the crunch of toasted fennel seeds. Read the rest of this entry »
I felt like beans and had some mushrooms in the fridge, so figured I’d try making a mushroom white bean soup. I also added some barley because I wanted to use up the end of it. So I cooked about 1 cup of (dry) white beans and 1/4-1/3 cup of (hulled, not pearled) barley together until soft. I’m not sure what kind of white beans they were–maybe great northern? The label on the bag just said “white beans,” but in German 🙂
This recipe’s combination of melon and potato is unusual, and I was curious what it would taste like. Victoria Wise, the author of the Mexican Vegetarian Table cookbook, says the flavors “meld together in a delectable, smooth soup that stands out as an example of how the old and the new merge in a surprising and pleasing way, as they so often do in Mexico.” Sounds appealing, right? Read the rest of this entry »
This is another recipe from Ron Pickarski’s cookbook Friendly Foods. It gets its creamy texture from olive oil, soymilk, and pureed potato rather than cream. Pickarski also adds miso for extra umami flavor. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe makes up the second half of winter menu number five from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. Last January in Segovia, Spain I had a bowl of garlic soup that was quite satisfying. It was a rich garlic broth with olive oil and little tiny tendrils of egg. I was hoping that this provençal garlic and herb broth would be similar. Berley’s head notes say this pungent broth (made from plenty of garlic and herbs) is a traditional hangover cure in southern France and Spain. He seems to imply that it doesn’t normally have egg in it, because he says “to make it more substantial I enrich it with egg and serve it over croutons with grated parmesan cheese.” I think it’s funny that he added more cheese to a menu that was already swimming in smoked mozzarella (from the bean salad). But, nonetheless, I followed his instructions to a T. Read the rest of this entry »
I bought a bunch of carrots to make carrot halvah, but then Derek never got around to making it, so I decided to make carrot soup. I found this recipe for roasted carrot soup in Cook’s Illustrated “Best Light Recipe”. It calls for half chicken broth but I used all veg. broth. Read the rest of this entry »
When I was in Israel last summer my friend made her Hungarian grandmother’s cold fruit soup. It was definitely quite different than any soup I’ve ever made. The soup was refreshing, with a nice balance of sweet and sour, but with some heft from the yogurt and eggs. I wanted to make it this summer and so I emailed her and asked her for the recipe. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m on a quest to try all the recipes in the summer section of Fresh Food Fast. In the past few weeks I tried five new recipes:
- Pan-seared summer squash with garlic and mint
- White bean and arugula salad with lemon dill vinaigrette
- Chilled soba noodles in dashi with tofu and shredded romaine
- Warm green beans and new potatoes with sliced eggs and grilled onions
- Chilled tomato soup with shallots, cucumbers, and corn.
- Spicy corn frittata with tomatoes and scallions
Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to make a soup for the first course of my dinner last night, but it was too hot to make a normal soup, so I went looking for a cold soup. I would have liked to make the Hungarian fruit soup that my friend Sarah made for me last time I visited her in Israel, but I forgot to ask her for the recipe. So I made the chilled cucumber soup with mint recipe from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast instead. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve never made pea soup before. I’m not even sure I’ve ever cooked with fresh peas before. But I saw the peas in the Turkish market and remembered that my new French cookbook (France: The Vegetarian Table) has a recipe for fresh pea soup. Then when I got them home I had a sudden crisis of confidence. Was what I bought actually English peas? Or could they be sugar snaps? I did some research online and determined that I bought the right thing. At the right is the photo from 4.bp.blogspot.com that reassured me. The pea on the left is an English (or sweet) pea. The middle pea is a (very flat) snow pea. The last pea–which is small, fat, and a little pointy–is the sugar snap. Duly reassured, I proceeded to pop the peas out of their pods. Wow, shelling 2 pounds of peas is a lot of work. It took me almost an entire episode of Top Chef Master’s to finish, and my hands were aching by the end. I was praying that that the soup would be worth all the trouble. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek and I are going to spend a few days in Paris next week–just in time for his 30th birthday! In anticipation of the trip, I recently bought the cookbook France: The Vegetarian Table, by Georgeann Brennan. The Vegetarian Table is a series of cookbooks written by different authors, one per country. In addition to the France cookbook, there is a cookbook for American, Japan, Indian, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, and North Africa. (When I lived in the co-op in college we had the Japan cookbook and I made excellent pickled ginger using their recipe._ One thing that I really like about the French cookbook is that it offers recipes using produce appropriate to every season. Mediterranean cookbooks so often rely almost entirely on vegetables that are local here only in the summer–peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. But Brennan includes recipes that uses Spring vegetables, and ones that use vegetables that are available in the winter. Here in Saarbruecken we’re just starting to see the first of the Spring vegetables, but I’ve been stuffed up lately, and so I was craving hot soup rather than fresh Spring vegetables. I decided to try one of the winter recipes instead.
Visitors from Austin brought us 90 perfect corn tortillas from El Milagro in Austin. Despite languishing in lost baggage for two days, they arrived in Saarbruecken in perfect shape. They were so fresh and corny tasting, I think our visitors must have purchased them right from the factory. Derek and I ate most of the first 30 ourselves, just plain or with refries or scrambled tofu. I froze the second and third batches. Before the last few tortillas in the first package were gone, I decided I wanted to try to make tortilla soup with homemade baked corn “chips”. I love Peter Berley’s miso-based tortilla soup, but I wanted to try something a little different today. I decided to try the california-style vegetarian tortilla soup from 101 cookbooks.
I went to a Bauch, Beine, Po class tonight, and it just about killed me. (That’s Belly, Legs, Bum for all you anglophiles.) I had absolutely no energy afterward to cook dinner. Also, I hadn’t been shopping for a few days and had very little in the fridge–just a large pack of crimini mushrooms and a small head of fennel, plus a number of leftovers. My mom suggested I make soup, and so I did.
I quartered the mushrooms, and sauteed them in a little bit of butter briefly. (Maybe 1.5 tsp?) Then I added a little white wine and let the mushrooms soften slightly. I added about 4 cups of water, a few big pinches of truffle salt, a couple pieces of dried porcini mushroom (crumbled), some freshly ground black pepper and one no-salt bouillon cube, and let it all come to a simmer. Meanwhile, I used my mandoline to slice the fennel very thinly. When the soup started to boil I added the fennel and offed the heat. I also added a cup or so of leftover “cabbage noodles” (a variant of this recipe, which I will hopefully blog about shortly). I let the soup stand while I toasted two slices of rye, multi-seeded bread. I then broke a clove of garlic in half and scraped the garlic all over the now-crusty bread. (I learned this trick from my friend Amira, who learned it in Italy.) I topped the soup with cubed pieces of the garlic bread, and a little freshly grated parmigiana-reggiano.
It hit the spot. Derek liked it too. There wasn’t a whole lot of broth, but it had an intense, mushroom flavor. The mushrooms were still pretty fat and juicy, and the fennel was lovely (as always in soup). The raw garlic on the “croutons” (and to a lesser extent the black pepper) added quite a bit of heat. Rating: B+
Derek said it was satisfying and earthy, but not overcooked and stewy–more like some stuff with a little light broth in the bottom. It reminded him of fancy restaurants where they bring you a bowl of something then the waiter pours a little broth over it at the table. Rating: B+