Martha Rose Shulman, the prolific author of some of my very favorite, whole foods-oriented, weeknight friendly, never boring recipes, has written a few times about her habit of using up the lingering odds and ends of her dry goods—beans, pulses, grains—before the end of the year. This makes for a clean slate in January, and prevents any of those items from going bad while hidden up in the corner of a top shelf for a few years. It’s always seemed like a good idea to me, but I’ve never really made a point of doing it. But this December, we’re on. I began with this perfect, post-Thanksgiving meal.
This recipe is really more of an idea. I thought about going the soup route with my lingering black beans and farro, but instead I landed on something like “dry soup,” or a “black bean and farro soup bowl,” or—bingo—”deconstructed soup.” The idea is to take the elements of the soup I might have made, strip it of its broth, and amp up the garnishes. Furthermore, when I combine beans and grains in a soup, one or the other often turns to waterlogged mush as the leftovers sit, and this method eliminates that.
Wherever you stand on the cold soup spectrum—do you think they’re silly and have no reason to exist? Or do you just think we ought to call them smoothies, rather than soup? Didn’t we discuss this last year?—today’s recipe is one I was excited about well before I found time to make it. I wanted a simple edamame soup that would provide a good base for some fun garnishes. It turned out to be rich and hearty whether you serve it hot or cold, and easy and cheap, too.
I just had a long holiday vacation where I visited friends and family in Reno, San Francisco, and South Lake Tahoe, and when I arrived home last night, it seemed ever clear that 2012 is going to be spelled b-u-d-g-e-t. This soup—which ought to get me through a couple meals—is one of the first things I made.
Last weekend the Eatizens dinner party took place. I tipped my bed up against the wall of my studio apartment, pushed my bookshelves, sofa, and coffee table out of the way, and nine of us gathered around my new (collapsible!) banquet table and a whole smattering of borrowed silverware, plates, and glasses to eat some veggie grub. Everything I served was from Vegetarian Entrees that Won’t Leave You Hungry, which of course was the purpose of the dinner. But in my excitement to get the whole thing going, I didn’t think much about the menu, not until the date drew close. And did you know? Organizing a dinner-party-worthy menu around a book focused entirely on entrees was a bit of a challenge. Vegetarian Entrees is all about variety and heartiness—those two things were at the tip of my brain as I wrote the book—and with a dinner party, of course, you can’t just set out three filling dishes that don’t relate (this would be called a “pot luck”). There needs to be finesse, some sense of direction with the food, some theme or through line.
Well, it’s soup weather! Fall entered New York in earnest last week and I’m pretty happy about it, because this is my absolute most favorite time of the year to cook. Late summer is great for eating fruit and veg out of hand while you walk home from the farmer’s market, but fall gets the balance right in terms of there being both good produce, and just enough chill in the air that standing over the stove is the best spot in the house.
This past weekend, after an afternoon strutting around my neighborhood wearing my favorite hoodie, I got very eager to make soup. And that could be any kind of soup I please, not just cold soup. A long time ago my friend Bob spoke—gChatted—rhapsodically about the Quinoa Chowder with Feta, Spinach, and Scallions in my favorite vegetarian tome, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I still hadn’t made it, but it was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to usher in the new season. The only problem is that I didn’t have very many of the ingredients. Continue reading
This recipe doesn’t have asparagus or ramps in it. I wish it did, but my timing seems to be wrong every time I go to the farmers market, and asparagus and ramps have all been snatched up. Instead this recipe comes from my “work (werque?) your assets” style of cooking, where leaving the apartment to buy additional groceries is not an option. (In this instance a deluge was happening outside.) So it’s a recipe that you can make any time of the year, and it will probably make you feel both nourished and resourceful.
For the past few weeks I’ve been slowly reading one of my mom’s favorite cookbooks, Bound to Please, by the Junior League of Boise. It’s an older book, from 1983, and unless you know me or are from Boise, you’ve probably never heard of it. In New York people don’t seem to even know about Junior Leagues—which are networks of women that organize different types of community development projects, with chapters stationed all over the world. Mom was a member around the time that I was in elementary school, which is the late eighties, and Bound to Please is one of the JLB projects that she worked on. (She also had a hand in the second cookbook they published, Beyond Burlap—a collection of potato recipes! This clever title makes me laugh every time I think of it.)
It seems Bound to Please was one of the first cookbooks that made Mom excited to cook. Her copy is has neat little notes next to the recipes she tried and checkmarks down the table of contents—it’s clear that at one point she wanted to cook through everything. I remember feeling the same way when I moved to New York and was living on my own, with unlimited access to a kitchen. I was about the same age as when she first got Bound to Please. I laid out my copy of The Dean & Deluca Cookbook on the kitchen counter, leaned over it with a pencil in hand, and cooked away like a pupil (though in reality I studied the book a lot more than I cooked from it—those are some expensive ingredients for a college student!). Imagining that Mom may have done the same thing with Bound to Please has made the book function as something of a portal to her lately, especially with Mother’s Day coming up, a difficult holiday since she died. Continue reading