Saturday, January 26, 2013

Soup Ideas

Arctic January in Boston means lots of soups. Here are the soups I've tried this year:

Healthy Tomato soup: I added spicy Hungarian paprika to basic tomato soup and finished it with nonfat Greek yogurt (rather than cream) for a protein-packed yet creamy consistency.

Kale, White bean, Sausage soup: iron-rich kale and lean chicken or turkey sausage create great flavor for this winter soup.

Ribollita: Following the traditional Tuscan recipe in the Italian cookbook La Cucina Fiorentina, this hearty vegetable soup uses both collard greens and kale or chard, and both whole and blended white beans for varying textures. Ribollita means "reboiled" in Italian, so this soup should be made the night before serving, then bring to a boil again the next day, hence boiling twice, for a thick, rustic result.

Roasted Cauliflower soup: I roasted both white and golden cauliflower in the oven and then created a three-cheese sauce using blue cheese, gruyere and extra-sharp white cheddar. This is snow day comfort food, best served bubbling hot.

Lentil soup: stewed lentils with sweet potato, carrots and spinach for a fiber-filled winter meal. When it's bitter cold below freezing, spiced lentil stew does the trick.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters

Every year on New Year's day I cook black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year - see previous blog post for the explanation - and this year was no different. (Okay, last year I didn't cook black-eyed peas on Jan. 1, but I was seeing the pyramids in Egypt that day, and there was no kitchen. A lot of sand and some camels, but black-eyed peas not so much.) Anyways this year I decided to do something different rather than the steaming pot of beans, or scattered artfully over a salad, as I've done in various years past. This year I decided to make spicy fritters. Here's how I did it:

1 can black-eyed peas in water
1 small onion
1 egg
Approx. for all ingredients following - use to taste:
1 tbsp. flour (For a gluten-free substitute fine corn flour would be good)
1 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. chili pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A few red pepper flakes

1.) In the morning drain the beans and rinsed them, then pour them in a bowl with fresh water to soak. *If using dried beans then you'll want to do this overnight, even, to make sure the beans are soft enough to cook by dinner time.
2.) Before cooking, drain the soaked beans in a colander and then put them in a large mixing bowl and season with the spices. Stir in the egg and flour. Mash the bean mixture using a potato masher. I kept the texture a bit chunky, with about a fourth of the beans still intact in the mush.
3.) Mince the onion and then saute in a medium skillet in oil until translucent. Add a few red pepper flakes to the pan, stirring around with a wooden spoon. (Can be omitted of course, I just like everything spicy.)
4.) Remove the cooked onion from the pan and stir into the bean mixture. *You could use raw onion in these fritters to omit the extra step, but since I don't enjoy the taste of raw onion it's worth it to me to cook them beforehand.
5.) Add more oil to the pan - a good frying oil like vegetable or grapeseed - and increase the heat. Shape the fritters with clean hands and place them into the pan. The oil should sizzle around the edges of the fritters.
6.) Flip the fritters after a minute or two - the sides should be golden brown - and brown the other side. Remove and drain on a plate with a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
7.) Serve the spicy fritters warm over greens (I had spinach on hand, but mixed greens would work, too) and enjoy.

Happy New Year!