Foodie Tuesday: Two Soups = Twice as Super

Photo: Roasted Veg for DinnerI’m experimenting with various vegetable combinations lately, for whatever reason, and finding more and more of them that please me than ever before. That said, no recipe or variation thereon is guaranteed to be ideal, either in its as-written form or to my personal taste. To wit: a split pea soup recipe I tried out recently.

Unlike my normal practice, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, the only change being to substitute russet for fingerling potatoes in lieu of an extra, last-minute run to the grocery store. This alone undoubtedly did skew the recipe, because of course russets or baking potatoes are mealy and liquid-stealing by nature, and I knew that the resulting blend would require a little more of its liquid to arrive intact…so I adjusted that amount very slightly and accounted for the concomitant change in seasoning with a pinch or two extra as needed.

Now, I grew up with split peas as a thick porridge or stew rather than a watery soup, so I had no worry about the stuff turning out thick, which it did. But this was no stick-to-my-ribs hearty porridge, only grainy and mealy slushiness. Worse, it was, as my superhero supertaster of a spouse agreed, the superlative of blandness. Even he couldn’t detect enough flavor in this mixture to warrant eating a whole pot of it, fresh or reheated.Photo: In a Maelstrom of Soup Madness

I will not, however, be defeated by a bunch of boring and dull-textured vegetables. Still, I had other meals to make in the meantime, so the remainder of that dinner went into the fridge to sit in the naughty corner and think about its misdeeds in the dark for a day or two. I had roasted vegetables to make.

This is something I crave in the cooler months, or what passes for such things in Texas. It’s one of my favorite ways to boost the flavor and character of not only the individual veg themselves when straight out of the oven but also the dishes to which I can add some or all of them later as slightly caramelized booster versions of themselves. This time I prepped a two-pan batch for the oven. One was a mix of thickly julienned potatoes and carrots and onion with a touch of garlic plus a paste made by blending turmeric, smoked paprika, a little smoked salt, and yellow mustard (the vinegary American kind) with a spoonful of my homemade veg broth (also turmeric-and-paprika tinged in this batch). I stirred those all together with a few brown mustard seeds, and stuck them in a big baking dish.

Joining this pan in the oven was another, filled with asparagus spears, julienned celery and red capsicum, quartered brown mushrooms, a small handful of broccoli flowerets, and pitted black olives. This got a good spoonful of veg broth in the bottom to keep the onions and garlic from over-roasting. Then, I dressed over the whole admixture with a sprinkling of dill, a slick of light-style Italian vinaigrette, and a sliced whole lemon.Photo: Thick & Hearty Asparagus-Mushroom Soup

Having these two ready at dinnertime, all I wanted to round out the meal was a light, crisp salad of romaine leaves and sweet kernel corn, lightly toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and piñons (pine nuts), a grind of black pepper, and my orange-orange-orange salad dressing (a puree of blood orange olive oil, blood orange vinegar, and canned mandarins in their super-sweet no-sugar-added fruit juice).

The asparagus mix went well together, but as roasted vegetables sometimes do, lost its good looks in the ‘old age’ of just-past-dinnertime, so I chopped it all up (except for the limp lemon rinds), poured some more veg broth in with it, and sealed it up overnight in the fridge to meld together. This, in turn, brings me back to redesigning or rehabilitating a dish from past days in a way that pleases better than mere reheating. For today’s lunch, I took out that batch of Asparagus and Friends, pureed it all together with a little extra water to make it less fork-meal and more spoonable, and it made a fine asparagus-mushroom soup, whose lemony intensity I balanced with a garnish of the aforementioned sweet corn and a flourish of cracked black pepper.Photo: Curried Cream of Split Peas

Meanwhile, back at the Land of the Lonesome Pease-porridge…. I pureed the pea-soup boringness into a nice, smooth actual soup with the help of a little coconut milk plus a goodly seasoning with my latest batch of home-ground curry masala, and by George, that was a major improvement! With a spoonful of plain whole-milk yogurt and a shaving of fresh nutmeg over the top, it was even my favorite of the two, today. (Pardon my steam for that blurry shot.) We shall see what tomorrow brings, whether a new favorite between them, or only more leftovers on which to experiment. Either will suit me fine.Photo: Two Soups, You Choose

Update: I did make a change to the asparagus soup that puts it in direct competition for first place with the split pea curry. I added some whole coconut milk to it. The added creaminess and the mellowing of the flavors was a good balancing element for the intensity of the other flavors. And then I topped the bowl with a dose of additional sliced mushrooms that had been slow-browned in vegetable broth, sautéed without fat but a hearty dash of coconut aminos and regularly-added splashes of the veg broth at intervals to deglaze the pan and keep the mushrooms from sticking. And behold, it was very good!

32 thoughts on “Foodie Tuesday: Two Soups = Twice as Super

  1. Good evening dear Kathryn…Oh my goodness you are such a cook….you really understand what you are doing. Reading this not only made my mouth water, but also helped me to understand what an artist you are with food. Autumn has arrived in London – and so I am making veggie soups in my crock pot…which is about the extent of my culinary expertise……:) Sending love – Janet. xxx

    • My dearest Janet, I am an absolute fan of, if not addict to, the crockpot. That’s how the veggie (or bone) broth always gets made, and it’s usually where I do carnitas, chili, stews, and any number of other dishes. My old slow cooker is nearing disintegration but it still does the job (though I now have to look up a picture of it online sometimes to remember where the markings used to be for various temperatures!!), so I gladly let it do the cooking for me as often as possible. Frankly, I love the way it fills the house with the scent of the coming-attractions, anyhow; comforting in and of itself, that perfume.

      Autumn is virtually nonexistent here, as you know, so I tease myself into believing in it again by choosing more root veg and wintry-sounding treats. And as for artistry, honestly, it’s more because of my *lack* of culinary knowledge and skill that I’m constantly experimenting, hoping to hit a sweet spot with the next try or the next! The kitchen is the one place where I’m most likely to practice the learn-from-my-mistakes methodology so highly recommended by so many experts in so many fields. I guess I figure that what goes wrong in my cookery will only last for a meal or two, so I don’t fear the failures much. 😀

      • In many ways you cook the same way as I paint…..I like to call is ‘playing’ something I always recommend to people attending my workshops. I believe that it is through playing, that we find so many answers in life. By the way please check out my new venture at http://www.zazzle.com/janet+weight+reed+gifts I would love your feedback. This is something I have wanted to do for years, but timing, as always, had to be right. The woman who does the business side of things has a company called HummingbirdHQ.com – (based in Dallas, Texas) and has been selling prints of my hummers for about three years….she has now taken things to a whole new level. For me it means monthly royalties….top up money for my pensions….and something that can grow. All of which is to give me freedom to paint what I want to paint in my third age:) Sending love…and happy cooking…Janet. xxx

        • Oops, I thought I had replied to this! I’m thrilled you’ve begun a Zazzle shop! Mine has been open for a couple of years now, and while it doesn’t bring in any significant money for me (my work is worlds away from as amazingly market-appealing as yours, of course!!!), I have made some surprising connections through it and find the discipline of updating inventory helpful once in a while, too. I’ve visited HummingbirdHQ through your link, and that’s a lovely site as well. You’re smart to keep diversifying, as it will continue to show you where your best audiences are and keep you productive all along, I believe.

          May it all prove productive of pleasure, first and foremost!
          Love,
          Kathryn

        • Thank you so much Kathryn….Please pass onto me the link for your Zazzle shop..i would love to visit. HummingbirdHQ has been selling my prints for the last three years, and so this is a good next step…something I have wanted to do for a while. As you say the most important thing is that pleasure is derived from such endeavours….Hope you are enjoying a lovely autumn weekend…Janet:)xx

        • My Zazzle shop: http://www.zazzle.com/s/artsparks. I’ve not updated/added for some time and am overdue, but my spotty communiques here, in general, are merely an additional symptom that things have been busy on the home front. In good ways, mind, but all the same, I’m looking forward to it all loosening enough so I can get a bit more on track with my productivity. 🙂 Much love to you!
          K

        • Good morning dear Kathryn…have just returned from France and so am catching up. I have a taken a quick look at your Zazzle site….and Wow….it’s huge and beautiful…so many lovely images….I need to take more time so that I can comment properly and so will do so during the next few days…meanwhile hope you are enjoying a lovely autumn weekend Janet. xxx

  2. I feel like rushing off and cooking these roast veggie dishes straightaway- but is it also “a touch of onion and garlic” int he asparagus recipe? You don’t mention it in the ingredients but it seems to be there. Accurate facts please, Mrs Trump.

    • Dang, you caught me! No, actually, the onions and garlic pretty much wandered over from the potatoes and carrots on the upper left there, but then you reminded me of some stuff I *did* leave out! Haha on *me*! I’ll add them right now, before I forget again. 😀 And lest we forget, Mrs. T. and her spouse have the privilege of determining their own Facts and have no interest in what you or I would call them. True to a certain vocal segment of the American tradition, at least. 😉 (I’d just have put a crying and screaming and ripping out my hair emoji here, but I’m really trying to be more temperate, like the weather.)
      xo!

  3. Kath, what fabulous combinations of flavours in your roasted veggies and kudos on turning a bland pea soup into a masterpiece of a meal. Scrumptious.
    Love to you from a chilly but sunny SA.
    🙂 Mandy xoxo

    • May I send you some of our extra warmth? 🙂 Happily, it’s *beginning* to cool down now, and the rains continue to surprise us. I’m glad you enjoyed my kitchen experiments this time around, my dearest. When are you going to show up and eat them with me? 😀 I think I’ve just discovered my favorite-yet salad dressing combination, too, and it’s divinely simple to make as well as delicious to eat, so that’ll be forthcoming soonish. Much love to you, and may the rest of the week go swimmingly for you! Kath ❤

  4. What a great idea, Kathryn, using roasted vegetables to beef up a weak soup. I never know what to do when confronted with that problem and usually add massive amounts of grated cheese to each bowlful. Grated cheese is like duct tape in my kitchen. Of course, I could always leave the soup in that corner of the fridge and just feast on the roasted veggies. Maybe even garnish them with a sprinkling of cheese. 🙂

    • Great minds thinking alike again! May I never see the day when cheese is a forbidden pleasure in my home!!! My weirdest “recycled soup” lately was to puree the entirety of a leftover restaurant fajita-beef taco salad—sans tortillas—lettuce & dressing & all, and it was spectacularly delicious. Who’d’a thunk! And yes, it had cheese in it. 😉
      xo

    • I’ve always loved the sweetness of corn as a delicious and sometimes surprising counterpoint to the beauties of a savory dish. And flash grilled or roasted is such a bonus: caramelization of the already heady sugars is never a bad thing!! But I’m admittedly also fond of fresh sweet corn eaten uncooked, or steamed corn, or creamed corn, or…! And now I’m just working to add to the ways I can think to use all different kinds of veg, because I’m beginning to get a better sense of how to take equal advantage of each one’s unique character the way I’ve always loved corn. Meanwhile, I had better pop back by ‘your place’ and have a look at what you’ve posted with vegetables. 😀 😀 😀
      xo,
      Kath

  5. Hi Kath, I wish I could hire you to cook for us. I fear my passion for cooking is slowly slipping into a dark oblivion. Your humor is superb in this line, “so the remainder of that dinner went into the fridge to sit in the naughty corner and think about its misdeeds in the dark for a day or two.” In the end, success prevailed and so did your artful skill even in cooking. righ now, I’m enjoying my coffee, but you already have me thinking about dinner. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend, my friend…xo

    • Methinks life’s busyness rarely allows for us to ride much more than one wave of passion (outside of our best-beloved companions, of course) at a time. Multitasking is pretty much a myth, if you want to append the idea of excellence to any of the tasks! 😀 So if cookery is literally *and* figuratively on the back burner, it’s likely because you’re so immersed in other good things, like being a dedicated student! You *know,* of course, that I would be thrilled to cook for you any time I could get you to my house, but it’s not ’cause I’m such a great expert, only that I have more time than you in which to do it—and above that, because I’d relish the time spent with you! Meanwhile, I’m loving figuring out how much less effort it takes to eat as much as I actually *need* instead of as much as I crave, and that drives a certain desire to make what I do eat more appealing to me. And to that guy I hang around with whenever I can snag him from his offsite duties! 😉

      K

    • Yes, that would be an enormously useful tool, wouldn’t it. Not to worry, though; I’m amazed at how many little typos and missteps I’ve come across in editing my archival books. 😀

  6. Pingback: Foodie Tuesday: Monster Salads | Art-Colored Glasses

    • One word: garnish. If you look at several of the photos above, the soups themselves are little more than greenish or brownish slurries that look pretty crummy on their own. But I find that a handful of nearly any sort of garnish, from the creamy to the crunchy, not only adds that fillip of taste-boosting that makes a dish seem more complete, it can cover a multitude of unhandsome ills in the bowl or on the plate. Culinary legerdemain! I’m no pro cook, but at least I can disguise my weaknesses somewhat with the help of a little misdirection. 😀 !

      • Yes, I agree with you on this. I have resorted to garnishing many a dish. I have a hard time anyway making those perfect looking dishes, that look like a work of art, that look so good you almost don’t want ti ruin by eating it.
        I am a pretty basic cook. When I experiment and try different things, they never wind up looking like they do in the pictures, and I have resorted to the garnish method on numerous occasions.

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