Soup Swap, Part Deux
Of course I meant to blog about the first impromptu soup swap I had back in December, but we all know how much I’ve been blogging these days. Starting again is like drafting that first post, when I couldn’t even type out complete sentences. Still, I’ve missed the daily discipline of blogging. I hope to recommit to this daily (hell, or at least weekly) practice these last four months of my pregnancy.
Fortunately, I can draw inspiration from the second soup swap I attended today, skillfully arranged by Chef Intaba through Slow Food Corvallis. All the participants brought six quarts of soup, and then we traded. We returned home with six different kinds of soup to eat right away or store in the freezer (if you can find the space! That’s why folks invest in chest freezers here.) You come home with such variety, instead of tiring of that one big pot of soup that sits in the fridge ignored for a week. Portland-based food writer and radio producer Deena Prichep aptly captured the conviviality of these events in her soup swap pieces for The Oregonian and OPB.
Rule #1 of hosting a soup swap, I’ve learned the hard way now, is to only prepare one type of soup. I made the mistake of preparing one to share and another one to share with guests during the event. Baltimoregon, when will you learn to put all your eggs in one pot?
For both swaps, I made Molly Katzen’s standby Brazilian black bean soup from her Moosewood Cookbook (see recipe below), recommended to me years ago by Dan’s aunt Amy. Most Brazilian black bean concoctions–think feijoada–involve smoky pork, but the Moosewood recipe is, of course, vegetarian. It’s bright and citrus-y, punched up with orange juice, diced tomatoes, cayenne and cumin. I even used locally-grown Black Valentine beans from Matt-Cyn Farms.
Such events really showcase ethnic and culinary diversity. Slow Food Corvallis president Ann Shriver made an Ethiopian lentil soup with spicy berbere sauce. Several attendees made lentil soups, made with green French lentils that don’t get so mushy when cooked. One participant stressed lentil soup’s low-glycemic index, which she turned to when facing the risk of gestational diabetes while pregnant.
Another woman of indigenous Mexican descent made a healthy version of posole. Chef Intaba drew on her Jewish heritage with her grandmother’s split pea soup. We won’t tell anyone she subbed her own smoked pork belly for the flaken, which her bubbe stewed for hours in the pot. Another swapper offered potato-leek soup with German butterball potatoes to represent her heritage. A West African chicken and peanut soup served during our meal was also memorable. Now we have a fridge and freezer full of soup to get us through the week.
Brazilian Black Bean Soup (from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)
Preliminary: Soak 2 cups dried black beans in plenty of water for at least four hours (and preferably overnight.)
• 2 cups dried black beans, soaked (see above or substitute canned and add after sauteeing the vegetables)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 cups onions, chopped
• 10 medium garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 teaspoons cumin
• 2-2 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 medium carrot, diced
• 1 medium bell pepper, diced
• 1 1/2 cups orange juice
• black pepper, to taste
• cayenne, to taste
• 2 medium tomatoes, diced (optional…I used diced tomatoes from a can)
• Optional toppings: sour cream, chopped cilantro, salsa, (I added some avocado and lime)
1 Place the soaked beans in a kettle or dutch oven with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender (about 1.25 hours).
2 Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet. Add chopped onion, half of the crushed cloves garlic, cumin, salt, and carrot.
4 Saute over medium heat until the carrot is just tender. Add the rest of the crushed garlic and diced bell pepper. Saute until everything is very tender (10-15 mins). Add the sauteed mixture to the beans, scraping out every last morsel.
5 Stir in orange juice, black pepper and cayenne to taste, and diced tomatoes (optional).
6 Puree all or some of the soup in a blender and return to kettle. Simmer over very low heat 10-15 mins more. Serve topped with an artful arrangement of sour cream, cilantro and salsa.