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 »
When I first moved to Saarbruecken there were no shiitakes to be found, but in the last three years they’ve started appearing at a few stores around town. They’re quite expensive, but at least they exist! I splurged on a bag of shiitakes the other day, and ended up throwing together a quick, tasty stir-fry with an onion, the shiitakes, some diced tofu, and miso. I sauteed the onion and shiitakes in just a touch of olive oil, then added the tofu and the miso at the end. I don’t have a recipe, but I loved the combination, and so I thought I’d record it here so I don’t forget it.
After using miso in so many of Ron Pickarski’s recipes, I decided to pull out this old dressing recipe that I used to make in my co-op days. It’s a very rich and salty dressing, with lots of umami flavor. I had no idea where the recipe originated, so I did a google search and found a few different recipes entitled “Floating Cloud Miso”, but none of them quite lined up with this one. Read the rest of this entry »
I have no idea why Ron Pickarski names this “Swiss Steak”. It’s basically tofu smothered in a vegetably tomato sauce. Is that how the Swiss eat their steaks? It seems more Italian. In any case, Pickarski says that this is one of his favorite everyday foods, so I thought it was worth a try. 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 »
I have recently acquired a new cookbook, and so according to my one in, one out policy, one of my old cookbooks has got to go. Scanning the shelf, Ron Pickarski’s book Friendly Foods caught my eye. It’s a vegan cookbook published in 1991, and written by a Franciscan monk. It includes quite a few seitan, tempeh, and tofu recipes, and a whole section on recipes for which the author won a medal in the Culinary Olympics! I used Friendly Foods a few times in college, but (as far as I recall) not since then. It seemed a good choice to pass on. But I couldn’t get rid of it without giving it at least one last chance to wow me. So Derek and I sat down and picked a few recipes to try. The first one I made was this quinoa loaf. It’s mostly quinoa mixed with celery, pinto beans, some other veggies, and seasonings. It sounded a bit strange but I like quinoa a lot and I had just made a pot of pinto beans, so I decided I’d give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »
When I was a kid my mom would often make carrot barley soup. There was something uber-comforting about the warm, orange broth and fluffy, exploded barley kernels. I had some barley in the pantry and decided to make carrot barley soup for dinner, but Derek objected. He would accede only if I made it into a miso soup. I wasn’t in the mood to cook, so I decided to also throw in some mushrooms and red lentils to make it a one pot meal. And thus, this soup was born.
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 8 ounces grated carrot (about 1.5 cups tightly packed, or 2 medium carrots)
- 9 ounces chopped onion (about 2 cups)
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 9 cups stock or water + no-salt bouillon
- 1/2 cup pearled barley
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 Tbs. red miso
- 2 Tbs. chopped parsley (optional)
- In a 4-6 quart pot heat the olive oil over high heat. When it’s hot add the carrots, onion, mushrooms, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-ghigh. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables stop releasing water.
- Add in the water, barley, black pepper, garlic clove, thyme leaves, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.
- When the soup is done, mix in the miso. Either mix it in a separate bowl with some of the broth from the soup, or put it in a sieve and slowly push it through into the soup. Garnish with fresh chopped parlsey and serve immediately.
I didn’t have any parsley so I left it out.
The red lentils totally dissolved, but added a bit of grittiness to the soup. The sliced mushrooms ended up slightly rubbery but I liked the textural contrast compared to the gritty lentils and the fluffy barley. I couldn’t decided if the red lentils added depth to the flavor profile, or if they muddied up the pure flavors of the soup. Similarly with the miso. I just couldn’t figure out whether the miso added a nice umame flavor, or muddied it up. The thyme, on the other hand, was clearly a great addition. I think the soup would have even benefited from another 1/2 tsp. or 1 tsp. of thyme added at the end. Of course, if I had had parsley maybe the extra thyme would have clashed with the parsley.
Derek ended up liking the soup. He said he’d eat it again, but he wouldn’t yearn for it. He gave it a B. He liked the barley, and said that with enough salt it had good flavor. He thought the flavor was a bit muddy, but the soup was pretty satisfying.
I enjoyed the soup. I think perhaps it could be improved a little, but it was very comforting and satisfying, just like my mom’s carrot barley soup. Rating: B.
I’ve tried to make tortilla soup before, and although I don’t know exactly what the chicken-based version tastes like, I know that I’ve never achieved it. Recently, however, I tried a recipe for tortilla soup from Peter Berley’s cookbook “Fresh Food Fast.” The key innovation is that he uses a miso broth instead of a simple vegetable broth. I thought it would be strange–miso soup with lime in it–but it was delicious, and tasted like (what I imagine) tortilla soup is supposed to taste like. It definitely tasted Mexican rather than Japanese.
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and smashed
- 1 small bunch cilantro (about 1/2 cup coarsely chopped leaves plus the stems for the broth)
- 6 corn tortillas or ??? corn tortilla chips, crumbled
- 1 large ripe avocado, sliced
- 2 limes (1 for juicing and 1 for cutting into wedges)
- 2 cups bite-sized broccoli florettes
- 1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced thin on the bias
- 1 jalepeno pepper (with its seeds), sliced into very thin rings
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup red or white miso
For precise instructions buy the cookbook!
Berley makes a simple broth with a head of garlic (cloves smashed but not peeled), and the stems from a bunch of cilantro. I tasted the broth and I could definitely taste the garlic, but the cilantro was pretty subtle. Then vegetables are added to the soup and cooked until crisp-tender, and then the miso and cilantro are mixed in. Finally, tortilla strips and lime-soaked avocado are spooned into each bowl.
The vegetables cooked in the soup are broccoli, carrots, and jalepeno. Adding broccoli and carrots to tortilla soup is not traditional, but they both went well with the other flavors. The jalapeno I had from my mother’s garden was hot but not too hot. Berley’s recipe says to fry strips of corn tortillas, but we can’t get corn tortillas in Germany so we used wheat tortillas. They were tasty but pretty rich tasting. Between the avocado and tortilla chips the soup was quite rich. I think the soup would be very tasty even without the tortilla chips, and more of an everyday kind of meal, rather than a special-occasion soup. The second time I made the soup I threw in a few strips of commercial corn chips. They weren’t as good as freshly-fried corn tortillas, but they added the right corn/oil taste, and were much simpler.
The main problem I have with the recipe is that it calls for 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup of white miso. Berley says you can substitute red miso to “bring it up a notch.” I’m not sure how salty white miso is, but 1/2 cup of red miso in that much soup would be unbearably salty. I added 1/4 cup of red miso to start and the soup was salty but tasty. More would have definitely made the soup too salty, however. The second time that we made the soup, we didn’t think 1/4 cup of miso was quite enough, so I had Derek add another 2 Tbs. On our second try the recipe made about 6 bowls of soup.
If you don’t fry your own tortilla strips, this recipe can definitely be made in other 30 minutes. Berley includes it in a menu with a medley made from white rice, kidney beans, green peas, and cheese. The dish was reasonably tasty, but pretty rich and not that exciting. It’s mildness was a reasonable foil to the intense soup, but both dishes were quite rich. I would have paired the soup with a lighter bean dish and more vegetables. I’m not sure I would make the bean dish again, although Derek liked it more than me. I was impressed that the two dishes together took exactly an hour to make (and mostly clean up from). If I made the menu again, I could probably do it in under an hour. The second time I made this soup I paired it with a black bean salad–highly seasoned black beans over a lettuce, tomato, and pepper salad. It was a reasonable combination but I didn’t get the recipe quite right. I was trying to recreate the black bean salad at La Feria in Pittsburgh, but I failed.
I’ll definitely make this soup again, especially if I can get my hands on jalepenos, corn tortillas, and ripe avocados.
Update December 15, 2009:
We made this soup last night, doubled, and I used 1/4 cup red miso and 1/4 cup white miso. I thought the salt level was perfect. We had 6 people for dinner and everyone had one smallish-bowl plus a second even smaller bowl, and I ended up with about 3 cups of soup left. The two avocados I cut up were almost entirely eaten, however. We used corn chips and they were perfectly fine. Along with the miso soup I served black bean and sweet potato burritos with salsa, and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Derek made margaritas and our guests brought two bottles of wine. It was a lot of food and drink!
This recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. I made it many years ago and Derek has never forgotten it. He occasionally suggests I make it again, and I’m finally getting around to it. Moosewood suggests serving the mushrooms over a bed of wilted spinach or other greens. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood.
2 stalks broccoli
1 tsp. unrefined toasted sesame oil
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 small onion, diced
3 shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
5 Tbs. oatmeal
6 cups vegetable stock
6 Tbs. white or yellow miso
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the coriander and saute for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Add the onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the shiitake and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the broccoli stems and the oats and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the broccoli stems soften slightly. Add just enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender.
2. Put the miso in a bowl, add 2/3 cup of the remaining stock, and puree with a fork. Set aside.
3. Pour the soup into a blender and puree. Return to the pot. Add the remaining stock, broccoli florets, thyme and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-hihg heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the florets are just cooked. Stir in the miso puree and a dash of lemon juice. Simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.
I used 1 tsp. of olive since I’ve heard it’s bad to heat up sesame oil, then added the sesame for flavor at the end. I wasn’t sure what she mean by trimmed mushrooms, but I cut off only the tips of the mushroom stems. Again, I wasn’t positive what “5 Tbs. oatmeal” meant, so I used rolled oats. I didn’t have fresh thyme, so used a number of stalks of thyme that had been dried very recently. I thought 6 Tbs. of miso sounded like way too much, so I started out with just 3 Tbs. The soup was sufficiently salty for me, but perhaps one more Tbs. would have enhanced the flavor even more.
I was intrigued by the combination of coriander and thyme. In the final product, I’m not sure I would have been able to pick out either spice, but the flavor was pleasant. I used a stick blender, and so the texture wasn’t totally uniform, but the chunks didn’t bother me. I’m not sure about leaving the florets unblended though. They very quickly started to turn a putrid green from sitting in the hot soup and I found the texture a bit distracting. Maybe if I had cut the florets into smaller pieces?
My friend gave me this tempeh recipe from 15-Minute Vegetarian by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Mindy Toomay.
Tempeh Stir-Fry with Ginger and Lemon
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. light-colored miso
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (button mushrooms also okay if you can’t find crimini)
2 1/2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
8 oz. soy tempeh, cubed
1 can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained
In a medium bowl, whisk the conrstarch into 1 cup water. Add the lemon juice, honey, miso, soy sauce, and ginger, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir and saute for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms, broccoli, tempeh, and water chestnuts. Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine and add it to the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
Each will have: 285 calories, 9 g fat, 16 g protein, 41 g carbohydrate; 5 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol.
My friend’s notes
I had to double the honey because it was so lemony, and I also substituted snow peas for water chestnuts (just because I wanted to). It came out pretty well, but not stellar.
I made a similar looking stirfry years ago from the same authors but from the cookbook The Vegan Gourmet that had what seems like 3 times as many ingredients. I never made it again because it was a lot of work but I remember it after all these years because it was probably the best stirfy I’ve ever made (I’m not so good at stir-frying). This one looks similar but more manageable. I wonder if it will be as good?
Okay, I tried it and thought it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t as excellent as I remembered from my version of the recipe, however, so I dug out my cookbook to see what was different in the “gourmet” version, and the biggest differences I noticed was that the 15-minute version used 3 Tbs. brown rice syrup rather than the 2 Tbs. honey (a sweetener) and mirin (which is also sweet). I enjoyed the lemon flavor, but found it a bit overpowering. It needed something to counter balance it. Derek suggested fish paste or anchovies to give it some depth, but I don’t eat either of those… Derek picked out all the tempeh cuz it was his favorite, and I preferred the vegetables, so we made a good team! Anyhow, I’m not sure if I’ll make it again, but I’ll enjoy it for lunch today 🙂
Update Dec 2006: I tried the original version again. It’s the recipe above except another Tbs. of canola oil, only 4 ounces of tempeh, only 2 cups mushrooms, a 1/2 pound snow peas, 2 Tbs. mirin, and 3 Tbs. brown rice syrup (I used 2 Tbs. honey). The consistency of the sauce was very good but it was too sweet, and just not that great. Derek and I had it for lunch but threw out the leftovers.
The book “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old–Or Fat Either” recommends eating miso soup for breakfast, or what the author calls “Japanese Country Power Breakfast.” I don’t really follow her recipe but I love the idea. It’s very filling, tasty, and low-calorie. It’s also a great way to use up small amounts of leftover vegetables. I try to eat this “power breakfast” at least once a week for breakfast.
What I put in my miso soup (some subset depending on what I have):
- Group 1. root vegetables or winter squash, whatever I have on hand: carrots, yams/sweet potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, potato. This is actually a great way to use up something like turnips that I don’t generally like that much. They’re pretty good in miso soup, though. Parsnips are quite sweet, which is a bit odd in the soup, but not unpleasant.
- Group 2. mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash or other soft vegetables
- Group 3. cabbage, shredded, or leafy greens sliced finely
- Group 4. diced scallions and/or bean sprouts
- Tofu, diced into squares
- Brown rice, pre-cooked or other leftover whole grains, about 2 Tablespoons per person
- Fried (free-range) egg, seasoned with salt and pepper, cut into strands (about 1/2 – 1 egg per person)
- Miso. I prefer red miso. (some info on miso varieties)
- If you’re adding an egg, beat it in a bowl with a little bit of salt and pepper. Heat a small skillet (I use my 7 1/2 inch All Clad Stainless fry pan) over high heat, spray with oil, and add the egg. Lift the corners and tilt the pan to let the uncooked bits get cooked. When it’s cooked remove it from the heat. It’s okay to leave it in the pan though.,
- Put some water on to boil. For one person use a 2 quart pot and 3 cups of water? Maybe a little less?
- Prepare your vegetables from group 1. Peel or seed if needed and dice finely. Add them to the water before anything else to start to soften. When the water comes to a boil turn it down so it’s only boiling lightly. Cook for about 3? minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare any vegetables from group 2. Add them to the boiling water. Cook for about 2? minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare any vegetables from group 3, and dice your tofu and get out your brown rice. Add them to the boiling water, and cook for about 2? minutes.
- Off the heat, but it’s okay to leave the pan on the burner, even if you have an electric stove. Add your miso. I think for 3 cups of water you need about 1.5 Tbs. of miso (I need to check this). I’m usually lazy, and just mix the miso directly into the soup. Stir it well because if you don’t you could get a lump of miso, which is incredibly salty and so pretty unpleasant. Alternatively, use a small sieve, and push the miso through the sieve into the soup, to avoid any lumps.
- Add scallions or bean sprouts and your fried egg if desired. I like to cut my fried egg into strands using scissors.
I’d recommend not trying to put too many different ingredients in your miso soup. I’d choose probably three different vegetables only.
You’ll need an extra-large soup bowl for this breakfast. A little cereal bowl just won’t cut it. This breakfast is extremely healthy but high in sodium from the miso, so go light on sodium for the rest of the day.
I finished my miso and bought a new container and it tasted so good, much better than before. It could be I was just hungrier, but I was wondering if miso loses flavor with age? How long does miso last in the fridge? Anyone know?
The author of the above book makes her miso soup with dashi (a broth made from kombu and fish flakes) but I don’t eat fish and it’s easier to just use water, plus I’m not a big fan of the fishy flavor. Maybe that’s why I liked today’s soup better–no kombu?
I just noticed I don’t have broccoli or cauliflower on my list. Have I never put them in miso soup?
Clearly this recipe needs work, as I don’t have amounts for the vegetables and even the amounts I do have are total guesses. I’ll try to pay more attention next time I make it.
Derek: B (much to his surprise, he was quite skeptical when I said I was making miso soup for breakfast)