Vegan Yam and Pear Soup

 

Put 3 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot on a medium low burner. Add 1 TBSP of cinnamon, 1 tsp of allspice, salt, pepper and heat until the aroma rises. Add 2 TBSP of chopped ginger, and I know that is a lot, but ginger is what we need to make this a savory soup, not a dessert soup. Ginger and onions, which come next. Add 1 yellow onion, chopped coarsely. It’s all going to be pureed in the end, so don’t bother chopping fine. Sauté until onions are soft and transparent.

Peel 8 small yams and cut into uniformly sized chunks, about 2 inches square. Toss into the pot with 32 oz. of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. Test with a fork.

Peel 4 pears, remove the stem, and chop into pieces and add to the pot. Cook for 15 more minutes. Add 32 oz. of unsweetened coconut beverage. Let cool and puree using a Magic Bullet, blender, or immersion blender.

I used 5 slices of fresh pear (one sunk) and a couple baby spinach leaves to garnish. I was going for the artistically pleasing Rule of Five, but one did not cooperate. I suppose if I were a super arty food blogger, I would make another bowl, but that seems silly for this blog.

This makes a smooth soup that is about the consistency of a canned tomato soup, but the similarities end there. It is so good, it is not the least bit sweet, but tastes of yam and pear and these deep aromatic spices with a little bit of heat that lingers from the ginger. It is not the least bit sweet despite the pears. The ginger and allspice are important in grounding the flavor on the savory side. If you don’t have allspice, you could use nutmeg or cardamom. It’s also kind of addictive and from spoon-licking from when I served it up to reheat, I can tell you, it’s actually pretty good cold, too. It was tasty last night, but today’s its flavor is richer. This is no single-serving. It makes 4 quarts of soup, which was nice to send some home with friends and to save for lunches this week.

The unsweetened coconut beverage is in a white unlabelled box with the ingredients stamped on it for Oregon Food Bank. This product from Pacific Foods matches the ingredients in type and order of quantity.

Everything but the olive oil and spices came from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share program. Harvest Share is a program that provides fresh produce to low-income Portlanders through the Oregon Food Bank. This is a big contrast with regular food bank products which are dependent on donations and tend to focus on nonperishable carbs like rice, pasta, beans, bread, and crackers. It’s a fabulous program that I wish were available across the country because fresh produce is expensive and many food banks simply do not get enough donated, and what is donated is often well past its prime.

 

 

Plum Tostada

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I got about 5 pounds of fresh plums from Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share a few weeks back. I have been waiting for them to ripen, but decided to just try cooking one to see what happened. I was really not sure what I wanted to make. Well, I wanted to make a cake but I don’t have a mixer or blender and it’s hot and I didn’t want to turn on the oven, so I stood in front of the fridge hoping something would leap out at me. I saw some fresh rosemary a friend gave me from her garden and wondered how plums would taste sautéed in a bit of butter with some onions and rosemary. I have some tostadas from WinCo, so decided to try something crazy.

So, I melted

  • 1 tsp of butter in a small sauce pan and added about
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped onions. I tossed in about
  • 1 inch long piece of fresh rosemary. I cut up
  • 1 large plum into about 8 segments and then chopped them in half. I added them when the onions were tender. I sautéed for about 8 minutes on a low heat. I added about
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (I have a vanilla bean in my tea sugar and used it instead of my cooking sugar.) I added about
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Stirring everything, I thought about adding lemon, but thought the unripe plum was so tart on its own, I didn’t really need the lemon.

I spread it on the tostada, added some sour cream and lightly toasted pecans.

This was so good, I washed out the pan and made myself a second one. Who knew rosemary and plums were divine? That is a flavor combination I am going to try again. Perhaps in a cake when it’s not so dang hot.

Makes one serving, darn it.

 

Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam

  • 1.5 pounds of bacon ends and pieces
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of cold-brew coffee (strong coffee)
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

Weigh out 1.5 pounds of bacon ends and pieces. You can use regular bacon, but it is more expensive. Cut into 1 inch chunks. Cook on low-medium (3 out of 10) heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon crisped. Remove the bacon and strain off the grease. I put it in a colander inside a bowl to rest while everything else cooked. Remove half the bacon grease from the frying pan.

In the remaining bacon grease, add yellow onions and cook until translucent. Then add brown sugar and cook for about 5 minutes until they onions get sticky.

Add the garlic, cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg and the coffee and cook for a five minutes before adding the molasses. Bring to a boil, stirring while it heats up to a boil. Then lower the heat to medium and add the bacon, stir while cooking for about 35-40 minutes, so the bacon absorbs the flavors from the liquid and the moisture cooks away. Add the vinegar at the end. Then add salt and pepper to taste. I just added some pepper as the bacon provided plenty of saltiness.

Rutabaga Soup with Apples, Carrots and Linguiça

Rutabaga Soup With Linguica, Carrots and Apples

Winco had some impossibly low-priced linguiça that I picked up a few weeks ago and put in the freezer. I thawed it out for a soup, deciding to try it with a couple rutabagas. I was a bit leery because it was so incredibly cheap ($2.67 for 1 pound) but hoped for the best. Let’s just say that I will be buying it again. It was delicious and made a fabulous soup.

Okay, I started with 1 TBSP of olive oil in my soup pot and heated it on a low medium. I added 1 tsp of cumin powder and 1 tsp of cinnamon. While it heated, I chopped1 medium yellow onion, salt and pepper, and tossed it in, letting it sauté until tender. While it was cooking, I pelled a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger and shredded it. I then added 2 cloves of minced garlic and sautéed everything together. The aroma was heady. I added the linguiça and let it cook a bit, so it was browned before I added 1 quart of water and  turned the heat up to a simmer.

Now I peeled 2 carrots and 2 rutabaga and 1 apple and chopped them up into small pieces. I did not worry about regularity as I planned to puree the soup, but it would cook faster with smaller pieces. I added them all to the soup, tossed in some salt and pepper and let it cook until tender.

I removed the linguiça and set it aside. I let the soup cool down, coming back an hour later to puree the soup. An immersion blender works best, but I don’t have one, so I used my Magic Bullet. After it was pureed, I added back the linguiça that I had chopped into 1/2 inch long pieces. I reheated it using the microwave on low and added a dollop of sour cream for that hot-cold,  spicy-sweet and sour contrast.

I made a similar soup several times, but this has a different flavor profile with the cinnamon and the linguiça and is, I think, a better version.