Monday, January 16, 2012

Annnnnnnnd...back to the DEEP FREEZE!

This picture of the foot of my bed leads me to believe that the Mayan calendar may be right after all. Usually, one of the dogs pictured is trying to, um, molest this poor kitty, and the other dog loves to chase and attempt to kill the good-natured feline. But I suppose these cold winters make for strange bedfellows!  As for their human (cue the sarcasm), oh, how I love having to stay up all night, stoking the fire and keeping the kitchen tap a-tricklin'...winter fun in the North Country!

When the weather is this brutal, and you don't have a pile of furry friends to snuggle with, your only hope for survival is SOUP.  Last night, when it was zero degrees with a wind chill of 13 below, my roomie and I found ourselves in desperate need of a midnight snack. Cyd wanted grilled cheese, so I obliged her, and I also whipped up a quick semi-homemade cream of tomato soup for dunking. It was SO good and super-easy!

Semi-Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup

1 can Campbell's Tomato Bisque
1 can diced tomatoes (with spicy red pepper*)
1/2 cup half-n-half
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon drief thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
*If you use regular or Italian tomatoes, you might want a few shakes of hot sauce or a squirt of sriracha.

Heat, mix with stick blender if you like it smoother (as I do), and devour.

This afternoon, while the thermometer was registering a balmy two degrees ABOVE, I ventured out to the grocery store for supplies, figuring that the cold might keep the crowds at bay (wrong--we're a tough lot in these parts). When I got home, I spent some time in the kitchen, working on one of my culinary experiments while my roomie watched her NFL playoffs (blech). Here's what I came up with: a rich, flavorful, creamy and meaty-tasting VEGAN mushroom soup! If you made some health-related resolutions for New Year's, this one's for you. And even if you didn't, this one might fool even the most passionate carnivore among you. What I can promise is that it will definitely warm your cockles (whatever those girls even have them?) when it's -9 with a wind chill of sixteen below, as it is right now as I'm writing this blog post. BRRRRR!!!

Mushroom Ginger Miso Soup

In a five-quart stock pot, saute until tender in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil:
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large red pepper, seeds and veins removed, coarsely chopped (or use 1/2 large sweet pepper plus a couple/few hot peppers if you like it spicy as I do)
1 lb. white or brown mushrooms, sliced

Add 2 quarts vegetable stock and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Blend with stick blender until smooth. (You could strain it at this point if you want it very smooth, but I like the texture and the fiber, so I didn't.)

In another pan, saute slowly until tender in a generous tablespoon of olive oil:
8 oz. "exotic" mushrooms (oyster, chanterelle, shiitake, what have you--up to a pound, if you can afford them)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons freshly-grated ginger

Deglaze the saute pan with the juice of one lemon (lime juice might be even better!). Add this mixture to the blended soup along with two teaspoons Thai fish sauce (optional, if you don't care if it's vegan or not), two tablespoons of miso*, and--if you didn't use any hot peppers in the initial saute--perhaps a squirt of sriracha hot sauce, to taste. Check the seasoning, and garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced scallions before serving.

*If you prefer to keep the priobiotic goodness of the miso intact (heat kills the good bacteria), you could just add a teaspoon or two to each bowl before serving. I pulled the finished soup off the heat, let it cool off a bit, then added the miso to the whole batch. But then I killed the good yeasty-beasties upon reheating, so maybe leaving the miso out until right before serving would have been a better plan. But I can tell you this: the soup is even better on day two or three, whether the miso is still alive or not!

1 comment:

Vicki said...

That mushroom soup was a GIANT hit in our house! Well, in the over 20 crowd, anyway. :o) Thanks for sharing your delicious ideas!