Wild Weather And Comforting Flavors
The weekend brought some of the wildest weather in my memory to the maritime Northwest. For starters, Saturday was the wettest September day recorded in Seattle since record-keeping began in 1891. Seattle got 1.71 inches of rain that day alone, though we usually only get about 1.5 inches during the whole month of September. My little back deck water meter was full to the top (it holds 4 inches), but I suspect the wind blew it full.
Also unusually, a wild wind storm brought sustained winds of 50 to 60 mph, which was scary enough. Periodically, gusts of up to 70 mph shook the house, rattling doors and windows and making the whole building shudder. Yikes! Here on Bainbridge Island, we were a bit sheltered by the Kitsap Peninsula, but still saw broken tree branches fly past in the night as the wind tried to uproot the world.
This morning, I walked out looking for damage and found an amazing sight; my tomato plants are still intact, if a bit knocked about, and the deck is covered with tomatoes. Some are ripe and some not so much, so I gathered them up, washed them and dried them and sorted for various uses. I love to add slow-roast green tomatoes to spicy soups, where their sweet-sour tang adds a bright flavor note.
Some split as I gathered them, thanks to all the water they got over the past few days. These I tossed into a spunky bean soup, lively with vegetables. To coax out the most flavor, I sweat the vegetables in just a little oil, adding sea salt to encourage their juices to run and covering the pan to capture and return the steam to the pan. Simmering over low heat, this creates a little sauna for vegetables, intensifying the taste of anything you cook this way.
Spicy Aduki Bean Soup With Green Tomatoes
1 cup aduki beans
1 teaspoon safflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, finely sliced
2 cups green tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/4 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, stemmed.
Rinse aduki beans and put them in a saucepan with 4 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer until tender (20-30 minutes). Meanwhile, in a soup pot, combine olive oil, onion, garlic and salt over medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot, reduce heat to medium, cover pan and sweat vegetables for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, cover pan and sweat for 10 minutes. Add spices, stir well, over pan and cook over low heat until beans are tender. Add tamari or soy sauce to taste, then add beans and cooking liquid to the vegetables. Let flavors meld for 15 minutes or longer, then serve hot, garnished with cilantro. Serves 4-6.
A Fabulous Vegan Potato Leek Soup
So many potato soup recipes call for butter, cream, and sour cream but I wanted to make an outstanding version without any dairy at all. I served this one to guests on Saturday, and it got rave reviews. Like the bean soup above, it concentrates flavors by sweating the vegetables over low heat, so you don’t need to add a lot of extra ingredients to get full and luscious flavor. Simple recipes do require excellent ingredient quality, however. Fortunately, any farmers market offers beautiful vegetables at their prime, so finding delicious ingredients is easy. Note that the broth uses all the vegetables scraps!
Vegan Potato Leek Soup
1 teaspoon safflower oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 large cloves garlic (about 1 tablespoon when chopped)
2 large leeks, halved lengthwise and chopped
(white and pale green parts only)
3 large stalks celery, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds),
peeled and chopped
1/4 cup garlic croutons (optional)
Or 1 tablespoon fresh herbs, snipped
For the Broth
Fill a saucepan half-way with water and set it over medium heat. Put all the vegetables scraps into it: onion and garlic skins, celery ends, leek trimmings, potato peels. Add water to cover and a pinch of sea salt, bring to a simmer, cover pan, reduce heat and simmer while you make the soup. Pour through a strainer when adding broth to the soup. Strain and refrigerate any extra broth for up to 3 days.
For The Soup
In a soup pot, combine oil, onion, garlic, leeks, celery and sea salt over medium high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover pan and sweat vegetables for 15 minutes. Add potatoes, cover pan and sweat for 15 minutes. Add broth to cover potatoes, cover pan and cook over low heat until vegetables are tender. Use an immersion blender (or a large potato masher) to puree the soup, adding hot broth to desired consistency and leaving a few chunks for texture if desired. Serve hot, garnished with croutons (or fresh herbs). Even better the next day! Serves 4-6.