This soup felt a little like spring cleaning the vegetable drawer. I had a lot of green vegetables and some were past the first blush of youth, because I wasn’t around much last week, so I decided to make them into a soup. I used broccoli, spinach, kale and cauliflower (not green, I know! But it doesn’t look ugly with green vegetables, and it makes such a smoooooth purée). YOu could use any vegetables you have on hand that you like together. First I toasted some pumpkinseeds, because I love their flavor, and they make the soup nice and creamy. And I finished it by melting in some cheddar, which added flavor and substantiality. I seasoned it with cumin, sage, oregano and cilantro, because I wanted it to go well with our leftover kale and black bean cornmeal cakes, but you could use any herbs and spices you like!
I hope everybody had a happy dragon day on Saturday! What’s that? You didn’t know it was dragon day? Didn’t you get the card? Oh, well I’ll share mine with you…
Isaac drew these pictures! It’s two sides of the dragon’s day card. They kill me! I love the technique of course. I love the way he fills the page with his imagination. I love the way he did a little dotted-line arrangement for his writing. I love the little pile of knight stuff – shield, chain mail, helmet – that the dragon has dispatched. I love the idea of dragon day – you have to play dragons, draw dragons, pretend to be a dragon, talk about dragons or think about dragons – as if we didn’t all do that every day already! But most of all, I love the fact that Isaac asked me to write the date on it. So I did. Then he said, and the day, what day is it? Saturday. And then he wanted the exact time of day. So I wrote that. And then he said, but what day is it? I’m not sure what you mean. Is it the last Saturday of summer? Well, I checked the calendar, and I’m fairly sure it was the last Saturday of summer. Isaac said…write that on there, too. The boys seem so blissfully unaware of time passing – except that when they’re doing something fun it goes too fast, and bedtime comes too early. Something about Isaac asking to record this exact moment, at the end of the summer, and the beginning of the school year…I tell you, it killed me! And this dish of spicy potatoes – I was unexpectedly smitten with this as well. I was inspired by vague ideas about Peruvian presentations of potatoes, and vague ideas of spicy Peruvian sauces. Basically, it’s potatoes, thinly sliced by the food processor, baked in layers with a spicy sauce of tomatoes, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, a touch of lemon and a touch of sugar. I’m not kidding – I couldn’t stop eating it! It’s weirdly addictive! Malcom liked it too!
Here’s Flight of the Conchords with Friends, because it’s stuck in my head, because I wish I could watch all of this show again without having seen it, and because Isaac is such a good friend to have.
Here’s Expectations by Belle and Sebastian.
Anyway – you don’t want to be inside too long cooking on a day like this, so you want to make a quick and delicious and substantial salad, such as this one. A perfectly ripe avocado is a thing of wonder, too. In this dish, we find such an avocado combined with tomatoes, cilantro, basil, salad burnet (which tastes like cucumbers – fresh!), hominy that’s been toasted with sage and oregano, and a chipotle balsamic sort of dressing. Toasted hominy is nice – it doesn’t get puffy or crispy, but it crackles and pops while it cooks. The warmth of it makes the tomatoes and olive oil lovely and fragrant and just a little soft. We ate this with basmati rice, fresh farm lettuce, and homemade tortilla chips (that’s a flour tortilla sliced in triangles and lightly fried in olive oil). But you could easily eat it with warm soft tortillas.
Red lentils, you say? Why is it green? Why? It’s a funny thing about red lentils. They’re such a pretty salmon color before you cook them, but they turn yellowish after. Still pretty, though, I think! And this is green because it has zucchini and spinach and cilantro. I like to make a red lentil dal that you cook for a very long time, until it separates into cooked lentils, and a delicate, flavorful broth. This isn’t like that! It’s more substantial and thick. It reminded me of oatmeal, a bit, as I was making it. The ground cashews add a sweet nutty creaminess that I find quite pleasant. This would be nice with basmati rice and naan or paratha, but we ate it with grit cakes, which was very good, too!
This soup came about because I bought a job lot (as Thompson and Thomson would say) of avocados. Avocadoes? Avocadi? They were at that moment of perfect ripeness. The first night we had one on a salad, but I continue to be bitterly disappointed by lettuce and tomatoes this time of year. So the next day, whilst whiling away the hours at work, I had the idea to use them in a soup (the avocados, not the whiled-away hours. I wonder how whiled-away-hour soup would taste?). When I considered the various flavor combinations I could use, I kept returning to the seasonings I use for quacamole (I make a mean guacamole). Viz: Cilantro, cumin, chile, lime and honey. So that’s how we did it. I added cauliflower, because I seem to be incapable of making soup without cauliflower lately, and because I thought the puréed cauliflower would save the soup from a certain slimy texture that puréed avocados sometimes attain. (I’m sorry, avocado, but it’s true) Well, the soup came out very nice. A little of the warmth of summery flavors combined with the warmth of a wintery soup.
Or further adventures in my search for the perfect tart/sweet/salty/spicy food. This combines the briny saltiness of artichoke hearts (from a can, I’m afraid, but there’s nowt wrong with canned artichokes, lad!), the tartness of lime, the sweetness of tomatoes and honey, and the peppery bite of cayenne. It’s very quick to make, and it goes well with emapanadas, chips, crackers…my son liked it so much he pulled the whole bowl over and practically ate it with a spoon.