Sunday, July 27, 2008

Locally Grown Soup

First things first, Carol and Calvin brought an excellent angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream! It was all we could do not to have dessert first! Thanks C&'re welcome here any time!

And now...about the soup...

The Southerner and I are trying hard to eat locally grown food. Despite his well-earned nickname, Black Thumb, he decided to become a gardener this year. In turn, I agreed to cook anything he grew and to actually taste it too, even if I was already positive that I hated it. Naturally, like most people, there are things I hated as a child that I love to eat now. Mushrooms come to mind. Also avocados. And onions. And even leafy greens. However, as my mother is quick to attest to, I have NEVER, EVER liked zucchini and there is a time I would've bet my life on the fact that I would NEVER eat it voluntarily. But did that stop The Southerner? Not even!

He joined the community gardens and has his very own plot. That sounded good. But then he did something rash! He joined the Squash Co-op. Now let me tell you something about squash, just in case you don't know. No offense to The Southerner, but even Black Thumb could grow squash. They're like those pods in the body snatchers movies. They just keep growing and growing. And let me tell you, things are starting to come in fast! By "things" I mostly mean zucchini. If you've ever had a garden, you know that even one zucchini plant (let alone twenty hills of them shared among only SIX people crazy enough to join a squash co-op) can quickly overwhelm a person as they go from small and edible to the size of a sumo wrestler's thigh practically overnight. Yellow squash are not far behind in the productivity category either. That's how I found myself the proud owner of about eight zucchini and yellow squashes (is squashes a word? And yes, I had to learn to spell zucchini just for this blog) and desperately in need of a way to get rid of them fast prepare them in a delicious and wholesome manner.

I found a recipe that sounded good (if you left out the squash) and that's what we had at Sunday Soup today (no, I didn't leave it out). And I am here to tell you that I was wrong and The Southerner is right. Zucchini is not the scourge of the earth. In fact, it's quite tasty. I am sure this is because of my fabulous cooking abilities the fact that The Southerner grew this squash.

Oh, and might I add that the Walla Walla onions came from the farm just down the road, the stock was homemade, and the sour cream came from somewhere local-ish. So all in all, it was a pretty local soup.

I'm way too lazy to go get the cookbook and type up the recipe correctly, but since Carol thinks this is in the running for the best soup so far (carrot being a contender) I'll give you the gist of it here.

A large onion, chopped, sauteed in butter until translucent.
Add a teaspoon or two of curry powder and some salt.
Add a couple of pounds of sliced zucchini and/or yellow squash.
Just cover with vegetable stock.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Cook half an hour or so, mash with a potato masher and then blend with a hand blender.
Just before serving, add 1/2 cup of sour cream and stir until dissolved.
Season with salt and eat up!


When I met The Southerner, I was amazed at the sheer amount of food he can put away (especially considering he's so skinny!). In fact, one of his other nicknames is No Dog (short for No Need For a Dog) and his motto is, "Another empty bowl." That said, there were two things he would not eat. Meats and beets. So...I was just wondering if anyone has a good recipe for borscht?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Bathtub of Soup?

A bathtub of soup? Saturday 26 July 2008

I stole borrowed this photo from The Southerner’s Photo Blog Even though it says that I need written permission from him, and I don't actually have it, I am pretty sure I can get it if I need it. He's nice to me that way. Plus he probably won't sue me for copyright infringement anyway. Especially if you visit his blog after mine and leave nice comments for him.

Now you're probably wondering why I wanted a photo of a bathtub anyway, right? Is it because I'm expecting so many people tomorrow that I made a bathtub of soup? Hardly. Quite the opposite. Tomorrow is the famous Nanaimo Bathtub Races and more than one person informed me that they won't be at Sunday Soup this week because they will be visiting friends who have waterfront property so they can watch the bathtub races. Waterfront-schmoterfront. I'm sorry, but WHATEVER. I mean, this is our view!

AND we have soup. Do they have soup at the bathtub races? I doubt it! Oh, and did I mention that Calvin Carol is bringing dessert? So now I say, so what if she and her cats are the only ones that come! More dessert for me!

P.S. The soup is really lovely too...I made it today and will reveal tomorrow. But here's a clue. The Southerner is involved in a squash co-op at the Community Gardens.

P.P.S. Today is my grandmother's 86th birthday! Happy Birthday, Grandma. We love you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Egg Drop & Kick

Sunday Soup was really fun yesterday! The some-assembly-required soup was a big hit, and also worked out perfectly as we only had four guests (plus me and The Southerner) and they came in stages, so I was able to make three batches of fresh soup, as needed.

I made a Spinach Egg Drop Soup. I got the recipe from Southern Living, but I highly doubt it is a southern recipe! I think it's more likely a Japanese recipe. I think this, not because I am a culinary expert, but because I once had soup a lot like it in a Japanese restaurant.

Here's the recipe:

6 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach

Bring broth to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Slowly add egg, stirring constantly, until egg forms lacy strands. Immediately remove from heat. Let stand 1 minute. Stir in soy sauce, sugar, and green onions. Place spinach in bowls; ladle soup over spinach. Serve immediately.

Now, as promised, I did not use chickens or chicken stock. On Saturday I made a big pot of lovely vegetable stock and I kept it simmering on the stove during SS yesterday and then just ladled stock into another saucepan and made small batches. I just realized, as I was looking at the recipe, that the first batch only had half as much stock in it as it was supposed to! I used my ladle and put in six ladles and it's only half a cup ladle! Oh, well. The Southerner and Carol and I ate it and it still tasted great. I wonder if Carol noticed that the second bowl she had was different? I know The Southerner didn't!

The Drop Kick in the subject line refers to the cats' activities. Carol and I looked on with dismay, but The Southerner found the whole thing very amusing! I guess since no one was hurt, he probably has the right idea. At one point, Calvin wandered into the house where Grinder was hiding from him. Carol and I only heard the yowls, but The Southerner watched the whole thing...the whole thing being Grinder flying into the kitchen backwards as if someone (that someone would be grey and large) had drop kicked him. We figure Calvin was simply inspired by my soup and couldn't help himself. Just for the record, we have never seen Calvin or Grinder touch each other! It's just a bit of a stand-off with a few growls. Calvin is ALWAYS welcome at our house and we like that he comes to SS with his mama!

I hope y'all had a wonderful Sunday. And if anyone decides to add Sunday Soup to their own itineraries or start a SS co-op with friends, do let me know! I've adjusted the comments so anyone can leave one now and you don't have to have an LJ identity. Also, if anyone knows how to add a counter to this site (I know it can be done, but no one can explain it to me in understandable English), I'll pay you in soup!

Cheers and happy eating!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Benihana Soup

I suppose that if everyone we invited to Sunday Soup over the last few months actually showed up, we might have fifty people. Our record is about twenty and with the lovely weather and zillions of summer activities here, our average is about eight to ten. I have decided to take advantage of this (now, watch...we'll get thirty people tomorrow) and make a very simple soup, but one that has to be made, or I should say "assembled" right before you serve it. I will be assembling it about four bowls at a time, which I think will work fine as it only takes about 2 minutes to put it all together. Now I know you're wondering what in the world it could be, right? Well, I hate to give it away on a Saturday, so I'll just give you some hints.

Spinach is involved.
I am going to make a Japanese cucumber salad because I have a large English cucumber that needs to be eaten and that salad complements the soup.
I'm serving bread, but I don't think that bread really goes with it...but people like The Southerner who already think that soup is "just an appetizer" will want bread.

will be injured (or cooked) in the making of this soup, despite the fact that they make the ingredient list. However, I will be including the fruits of their labours.

Okay, enough hints for now! See you tomorrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Soup Rocks!

This soup rocks. I can say that it's really delicious because I mostly followed a recipe. I mean, if I make it up, I try to be more modest and wait for everyone else's opinion, but this is kind of like the tomato-orange soup in that I already know it's just really good, So there you have it.

My mum got me a tiny cookbook a few years ago called SOUP. I glanced through it a bit, but not too much as there seemed to be a lot of meat recipes in it. I discovered the other day though that the Vegetable Soups at the front are not the only vegetarian soups, but many of the Bean & Grain soups, as well as the Special Occasion Soups are also vegetarian. I feel like I just got a new cookbook. Thanks, Mum!

It's been fairly warm here. The locals are complaining that it's HOT, but The Southerner and I just laugh and zip up our fleeces...I mean, really! Hot? Haha! It's been in the low 80s F on its warmest days and a lot cooler than that here in the trees! And no humidity! None! Anyway, to appease the locals, I decided to make a Chilled Cucumber and Walnut Soup from the Special Occasion section of this book. I'm really glad I tested this because let me tell you, while it's quite tasty, NO ONE could eat a bowl of it! It tastes like tatziki! You know, that cucumber yogurt dip for pita bread? Well, that's how we're eating it, thank you very much. It's quite good with roasted Walla Walla onions dipped in it too. Anyway...

Today's soup comes from this book too and is called Green Vegetable Soup, but while I was making it, I was listening to that novel, GODS BEHAVING BADLY, and so I have goddesses on the brain, so I'm calling it Green Goddess Soup. As you can imagine, it has a lot of green vegetables in it: green onions (calls for leeks, but I had these beautiful fresh-from-the-farm green onions so I used those instead), green beans, spinach, basil pesto, edamame, fresh shelled peas, and a few not so green veggies like potatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi (also from the farm). I think the most exciting part of today's soup is that all soups, but vegetable ones in particular, get better if you let them sit in the fridge overnight. The Green Goddess soup was yummy yesterday, but I think it will be really delicious today. And if no one likes it, we're buying a freezer later this week, so I'll just freeze it and eat it all myself.

The bread is a surprise still as I have to make a test batch to find out if my recipe is any good. More on that tonight. Oh, and Carol, if you're reading this, Calvin just showed up for soup seven hours early, so I gave him some catnip and he rolled around on the patio for a while and then wandered off. Probably to get you a snake from the snake pit (apparently, the gully in the front of our yard is a haven for snakes and Calvin brings Carol one most days - but don't worry, I have no intention of making snake soup, even if he does start bringing them to me!).

Apparently Calvin was listening this morning when he arrived seven hours early and I sent him home and told him to come back at 4pm, because at 4pm, he started biting Carol on the elbow. When she went in to see if he needed food, the bowls were full...He wanted to come to Sunday Soup! We know this because as soon as she headed this way, he trotted along behind her. Obviously, he has added SS to his calendar. Cats lead very busy lives, thus making a palm pilot desirable to those with opposable thumbs like Grinder. Cats like Calvin who have cool tails, but just normal paws, have to keep the whole thing in their heads, which makes them very tired. I believe Cal's entries look something like this:

8am Nap
8:30 Check in next door to make sure it's Sunday and the catnip supply is still good
9am Get in a few zzzzzs
10am Eat
11am Get petted
11:30 am Rest up for lunch
12pm Lunch
1pm Nap
2 pm Eat
3pm Sleep in the sun
4pm Sunday Soup
4:05pm Get a hit of catnip
4:06pm crash out on the picnic table until it's time to go home

We had a lovely turnout and some newcomers, including a new person to our little community, which is always nice! The soup was even better today (if I do say so myself, and I do because it's my blog after all) and all I had to do was add some fresh parsley and a little more salt. We put a pretty big dent in about eight quarts.

The "bread" was cheese scones with chives. The recipe came from another little cookbook that my mum gave me (Do you see a pattern? She must love tiny cookbooks!) of English recipes for teas (as in high tea, not Earl Grey variations). So far I've mostly used this book to make English Rock Cakes which are basically a lot of butter, some dried fruit, an egg and flour, but today I tried the Lancashire Cheese Scones (with cheddar from Toronto - I many cows do they have in Toronto? But cheese is expensive here in Canada and this cheese is reasonably good and The Southerner likes cheese so I have to buy the big blocks of it and so that's what I had the most of and in it went despite the small population of cows in Toronto).

Anyway, the scones turned out lovely and two of our friends who blatantly ignore the "you don't have to bring anything" suggestion and always brings LOVELY, FABULOUS, TASTY things and then leave the leftovers, (and is therefore always welcome at Sunday Soup) brought clotted cream and cherry jam, which went very well with cheese scones, although, I wouldn't have really thought of it myself because of the chives. But they were dried chives (I forgot to request that The Southerner bring some fresh ones home from the community garden), so they weren't that strong anyway.

As my Irish friend told me last week when she brought us peaches, "I was raised in Ireland and there you never go to someone's house with your arms the same length. One hand should be carrying something." Just for the record here, the "You don't need to bring anything guideline" is for one reason only. It is so that our friends never say, "Oh, today is Sunday Soup, but I don't have anything to bring. I guess I'll go next week." We want y'all to feel free to drop in even if you're walking down the street and hear the laughter from our porch and suddenly remember it's Sunday.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention our guests who came at the very last minute. They weren't interested in soup. In fact, the two youngest ones only wanted milk, and the older one wanted carrots. Yes! The mama deer brought her two fawns right into the yard and not only did she let them nurse (which she doesn't do that much anymore), but she stood around with them as if she was showing them off for us. This is the first time she's done that. Then one of the bucks came into the yard, and usually the mama runs off with her babies when the males come, but this time she just ignored him. He wanted carrots though and so I gave him bits and pieces from all the carrot ends from last week's soup (by hand) and one of the fawns got within about fifteen of us and watched, wanting carrots, but not really quite that brave. Unfortunately, we were all too excited to run for the camera, so you'll just have to use your imagination. It was a very exciting end to Sunday Soup. So exciting in fact that after they left, everyone packed up and went home too. Even Calvin.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The verdict

I think this carrot with coriander soup turned out pretty tasty. I ended up thinning it a bit with more vegetable stock and I added some lemon pepper at the end because it seemed to be missing something. I, of course, deviated slightly from the recipe, using ground coriander because I did not have whole (you're supposed to toast the whole and then smash it with a mortar and pestle), using a little half & half rather than creme fraiche, and putting in a little shredded ginger root (which you could not taste at all).

The bread was the regular stuff, but I kneaded in some fresh chives (from The Southerner's garden!), garlic, black pepper, and Parmesan. It was a BIG hit.

We had a small turnout this week, but it was nice, as always. Everyone seemed to like the soup (either that or they didn't want to hurt my feelings) and I sent some home with a couple of people. The Southerner is not that fond of carrots, so he finally admitted, after pressing, that it wasn't his favorite soup. He was sitting to one side of me, kind of behind me, his spoon clinking against his bowl like he was really enjoying it and when I turned I saw that he was eating it out of one of my tiny ramekins! He didn't even like it enough to have a regular bowl! Haha! He thinks that hurts my feelings somehow, but not at all. Not everyone can like every soup. There are tons of soups I don't make because they sound yucky to me!

While I always say that dessert is NOT on the menu, Carol pointed out that I have come up with three special occasions in a row to justify dessert. This week it was my one year anniversary of being a landed immigrant in Canada. Once The Southerner comes in from playing...I mean, working...on his bike...and downloads the picture of my cake, I'll add it to the post. It was an orange cake made with olive oil for the fat, instead of butter. Quite interesting. I topped it with an orange soak (half a cup of sugar, half a cup of o.j., two tablespoons of butter, a dash of vanilla - simmered for ten minutes, cooled, and then poured over the cake while it's still in the pan). I actually made up the recipe for the orange soak, based on a vanilla one. It turned out really, really lovely.

Oh, here is the photo...I guess it's too dark to work on the bike outside. Undoubtedly, he'll move into the kitchen as unless I'm actually in there cooking, he thinks it's a great bike workshop (but I'm not complaining because he finally built me my own fixed gear bike this week)!

Calvin and Tigre came for a visit, as usual and while Sophie didn't mind, there was a moment where Calvin, hopped up on catnip, chased Grinder through the yard at full speed. It was just a stand-off though and no blows were thrown, which is good because Calvin's big, but Grinder has extra toes and enormous feet! Judging from the photos, it's probably hard to believe there was any kind of altercation going at all though.
Grinder Calvin

I'm not sure what next week's soup will be, but if you have any vegetarian soup recipes (or great bread ideas), feel free to leave them in the comments or drop me a line! And if you can think of anything we should celebrate next Sunday so we can have cake, I'm taking note of holidays...real or made-up.

Eat well...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

What's Up Doc

Growing up, I didn't really eat vegetables. Okay, truth be told, I didn't really eat them much until I became a full-time vegetarian which was about five years ago. At that point I decided it was probably time to give in. I mean, I knew vegetarians who lived on French fries and beer, but I'm not that fond of beer and after last week's killer potato attack, well...let's just say I'm not a huge potato fan either.

When I was living in England after college, a friend of mine won an award for showing her horse and she invited me to go the fancy schmancy awards dinner. At the dinner they served the most delicious cream of carrot soup! I was hooked. Of course, I didn't cook then, so you know, that one bowl was it. But I've had fond memories of it ever since.

Several years ago when I had no idea how to cook, but I was learning (thanks Emeril, Rachel Ray, Jamie Oliver!), I decided to try and recreate that fantastic soup. How hard could it be? It was mashed carrots after all with maybe a little cream or something. So what I did was peel a whole bunch of carrots and chop them up. I might've actually shredded them, I don't remember. Anyway, I put a little water over them and boiled the tar out of them and then I pureed them and added some cream. Guess what I ended up with? Nope, not delicious soup worthy of a fancy schmancy awards dinner. Basically I had baby food. And like any baby, I spit it out and threw it away.

Over the years I have had other creamy carrot soups and they've been delicious, but after that first attempt, I really just couldn't face trying it again, even though I now know what I did wrong (ever heard of stock? or seasonings?). However, this week, organic carrots were on sale and I came across what looked like a tasty recipe by Delia Smith, chef extraordinaire, and British to boot. For all I know, she made that soup I ate so many years ago! Mine is simmering now and while I'm not sure how it will taste in the end, it smells fabulous.

And as you can see by the photo, the deer is especially appreciative of my efforts. He just ate peelings from six POUNDS of carrots! Did you know deer teeth are not very sharp? Good thing since he mistook my hand for a carrot a few times.

In case you're wondering about the bread, I think I will go with the old stand-by NY Times no knead bread. It just seems like the perfect bread for this soup, all crusty and chewy (and really easy to make so I can be lazy!).

More tomorrow!