Monday, February 15, 2016

"Cheezy" Cream of Spinach Soup

In doing the Whole 30, I've found paleo ways to make old standards that are sometimes better-tasting (and occasionally, easier) than the non-paleo origionals. Take cheesy soups, for instance: how on earth do you make them without having lumps of cheese throughout? I have never mastered the fine art of thickeners to make a perfectly creamy, cheesy soup. Until today, and believe it or not, no cheese was harmed in the making of this soup.
For this soup I used sweet potato as a thickener, turmeric for its color (that it's high in magnesium and iron is another benefit), nutritional yeast for that je ne se quois funk (the protein and B vitamins are a major plus!), and coconut milk for making it creamy.
To make it I used:

  • 1 Tbsp ghee (use avocado oil to make it vegan)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups bone broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegan)
  • 1 tsp each of: dry mustard, turmeric, paprika
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste; just keep in mind that salt is part of what convinces you there's cheese involved!)
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 heaping cutting-boards-worth of spinach, chopped (about one small bag or container)
  • 1 14 oz can (or 2 cups homemade) coconut milk

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat and add the ghee or oil. When hot, add the chopped onion, and let it cook until translucent. Add the diced sweet potato and garlic and let cook a couple more minutes. Add broth, spices, salt, and nutritional yeast, cover, and bring to a boil.
As it's boiling, chop up the spinach, and add it to the pot one cutting-board at a time. Bring it back to a boil, and occasionally press a sweet potato slice onto the edge of the pot with a wooden spoon to see if it's fully cooked. Once it is, turn off the heat, pour in the coconut milk, and mix with an immersion blender. Serve hot!
This is a very bare-bones recipe. Add a little spice with some hot sauce or pepper flakes! Add some tang with a dash of lemon juice. Add thyme and oregano for a more Italian character. How do you dress up your soups?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Midwestern Gumbo!

I've now completed 3 weeks of the Whole 30, and I've experience it as so:
Week 1: Take pictures of all the things! I can only think about food! Make up new recipes and post the instructions on every picture!
Week 2: Take pictures of all the things! I can only think about food! But I'm kind of tired of keeping track of every single thing I do. I'll write the recipes later.
Week 3: tired of photographing my food/making it look presentable. I want to just eat it and get it over with. I have better energy! Oh wait, just got a cold with a fever attached. It's lasted 4 days.
So basically I can't really tell how this diet is working. And I couldn't really have 3 meals a day because I haven't been hungry, and also because I've been either sleeping or crazy productive. The last two days have been crazy productive; I've done the math and typed up charts for a lace shawl, I'm in the process of writing it out long-hand (for non-chart-readers), I've memorized several verses of Не Ветейся Чайки for the Golosa concert on Saturday, and worked on the painting that will fill a big wall in our living room.
I have had time to test and re-test some recipes, and I found a real winner! Midwestern Gumbo! What makes it Midwestern? The fish comes from a can; I don't trust much un-canned fish around here. Un-canned fish is for the coasts.
The recipe is quite simple! (Two of the ingredients go straight from the can to the soup!) Also, you can change around some of the ingredients; last time I made this I used butternut squash, chicken stock, and spinach, because that's what I had on hand. This time I only had one lonely shallot, where normally I would use a whole onion. It still turned out superbly! Keep the "garbage soup" mantra in mind: If it's in your fridge and might be nice in a soup, use it!
You'll need:
  • 1 Tbsp cooking fat
  • 1 onion (or shallot--maybe two shallots if you have them), chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic (more or less, depending on taste), chopped coarsely
  • 1 Tbsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika (Pictured above is our "wedding spice blend", which is mostly paprika, both smoked and sweet--if you have one and not the other, use 2 Tbsp of the one you have)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 4 links Wellshire Farms Andouille Sausage (no sugar!)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tin sardines in olive oil (I use Wild Planet)
  • 4 leaves kale, stemmed and cut in a chiffonade
  • 2 Tbsp Frank's Red Hot (no sugar!)
Melt the cooking fat in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic (or use your spidy sense if you're stuffed up and can't smell anything).
Throw in the spices, stir around so they absorb the cooking fat. Add the sweet potato and toss until coated with the toasted spices.
Add your bone broth and cover the pot until it's boiling. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Lift the lid, turn up the heat slightly, and add the sausage and peppers. After about 5 more minutes, empty the can of tomatoes and the tin of sardines (olive oil and into the soup. Stir it around so the fish breaks up.
Bring it back to a boil; if you haven't already, use this time to chiffonade the kale. It's a super-fancy word for "roll it up and slice it very thinly". When the kale is chopped, throw it in the soup and stir until it's wilted. Add 2Tbsp (more or less) Frank's Red Hot and turn off the heat.
Note that I did not mention salt. Both times I've made this I forgot the intended salt, and only when I sat down to eat it I realized that it didn't need any. This may be because of the sausage, or the can of sardines, but it tasted perfect without any added salt.
Stay tuned for more recipes!