And some brief cooking notes

Nothing too major this week but I did try a couple of things — back over the weekend, a little sauteed chard with raisins, garlic and goat cheese:

Chard w/raisins, garlic and goat cheese

And a few days after that, a cold cabbage/cucumber soup:

Cabbage/cucumber soup

Which given how this week turned out colder than normal might not have been the right approach, but hey! There are a slew of cold cabbage soup recipes out there if you’d like to try further — I used this one, minus the buttermilk.

Puree of turnip soup

Puree of turnip soup

Radishes I’m good with but turnips sometimes leave me uninspired. But a scrounge last night turned up this recipe, so a little experimenting later and this was the result, plus another batch for another night. The garnish in this case was some cayenne pepper to add extra bite as well as some roasted seaweed. Not bad, really!

White bean fennel soup

White bean and fennel soup

Made this up last week and have been dipping into batches since. Great stuff, and as I love fennel I couldn’t ask for more. The recipe came from one of my CSA mailouts:

• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
• 1 (15 ounce) can white kidney or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 3 cups shredded fresh spinach

In a large saucepan, saute onion and fennel in oil until tender. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, thyme, pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until fennel is tender. Discard bay leaf. Add spinach; cook 3-4 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.

Sweet potato and fennel soup

Sweet potato and fennel soup

Meantime, this is really what I was all about this week. The recipe itself is a fine one but I really wanted an excuse to finally test out a Christmas gift I was really excited about, this Bamix professional immersion blender. My old blender died a while back and I wanted to make the switch to a hand blender for ease and to not have to worry about shlepping things back and forth. Worked like a dream and damn if this wasn’t good. (And a little crispbread to go with never hurts.)

Easy seaweed soup

Seaweed soup

You can’t go wrong with a name like that — and indeed, this was very easy, and quite lovely.

I found the recipe while wondering what to do with a small amount of fresh vegetable broth I’d made last week after coming home from up north. Most of it had already been consumed over the intervening days while another portion was frozen, but I wanted to use a remaining fresh remnant for something else. Given the chillier weather, soup was a logical choice, but I wasn’t interested in anything too complicated after a busy work day.

The advantage of the recipe is not merely that it’s simple but protean; one can easily adapt as one chooses. In this case, the seaweed had already been shredded and roasted, while I had some fresh parsley around instead of cilantro, so I used that instead. The end result was gently tasty, as much about the light touch of the broth and the hint of texture and scent the roasted seaweed provided as anything else; paired with some hearty bread, salad and a bit of chocolate, it’s a little hard to beat.

Corn, tomato and zucchini soup

Soup!

A combination of fortuitousness and weather — it’s been a very cool summer out here and it’s just starting to feel a bit like fall in corners. Also, I had a nicely open evening to cook up something, and had thought a little tomato soup would be a good idea.

Turned out something even better was to hand — a quick check in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything turned up this variant with corn, zucchini and plenty of basil, all of which I had sitting around courtesy of my last basket delivery. (To be fair the zucchini was more smaller summer squash but it was all the same principle!) It was the perfect opportunity to make use of it all — took about an hour and a half from stop to start and was worth it all, especially since there was plenty leftover for later in the wake.

Also, the broth I used had been prepared the other week from the remnants of the previous basket, so it was truly a totally from scratch preparation. All that and light on the olive oil and with no salt either. Tasted great!

If you’d like to try it, go nuts!

Malabar spinach soup

I should preface this with a description of malabar spinach, which my friend Y is growing in the garden:

Malabar spinach

As Wikipedia says, it’s a plant that appears under a number of different names; much like the molokhiya which I suggested for the garden this year, it’s heavy with the mucilage so it’s got both sticky leaves and acts as a thickener for soups, as well as being protein-rich. All a good sign!

Meantime, the previous evening I made a standard batch of vegetable stock from a variety of things in my fridge that needed cooking; having frozen most of it I kept one batch fresh for some sort of use. Given I had some of the malabar spinach leaves courtesy of Y I wanted to see if there was a basic soup recipe I could whip up. Turns out there is — in fact there are a ton of basic recipes I was able to find, selecting this one after reading it over a bit, enjoying the story of how the leaves are described and used.

So with that as the guide, some soba noodles to hand and a little prep and cooking:

Malabar spinach soup

Quite delicious, very flavorful, with the stock, noodles and leaves all blending deliciously. Will definitely be trying this one again sometime!