Vegetable Chowder

Vegetable Chowder

I’ve got another Martha Stewart soup for you, and this one is another crowd-pleaser that also goes in the freezer.  How’s that for a hip rhyme?  This chowder is so hearty that you might not even realize it’s vegetarian.  It’s very similar to hodge podge, so feel free to accompany it with Nova Scotia beer bread while you’re at it.

Vegetable Chowder

Start with your chopping.  Dice 2 red bell peppers and 1 large onion and grab 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.

Vegetable Chowder

Chuck that into a large saucepan with 3 tablespoons butter and cook on medium-high until the vegetables are softened, about five minutes.

Vegetable Chowder
This picture is blurry because I was too excited about chowder to stay still.

While that’s on the go, peel and chop up about 4 medium baking potatoes.  Those go in the pot, too, as well as 3 cups milk and 4-5 cups water.

Vegetable Chowder

Bring that all to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer for about 8 minutes, until the potatoes are almost tender.

Vegetable Chowder

Then you will want to chuck in 4 cups corn.  I used the frozen stuff, but feel free to use fresh if it’s available.  Simmer that for another 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon (to drain off excess liquid), remove 3 cups’ worth of soup solids.

Vegetable Chowder

Purée those.  Pause to remove bits of puréed vegetables from your face and spectacles.

Vegetable Chowder

Chuck that goo back in the pot and add 6 cups green beans (again, I used frozen ones, but if you’re using fresh, cut them into 1″ pieces).

Vegetable Chowder

Simmer again until the beans are tender, about 5 minutes, and serve.

Vegetable Chowder

When you’re freezing stuff like this, it helps if you portion it out into the containers you’re using one ladleful at a time, distributed equally among the containers.  This means that your containers will get equal amounts of veggies and broth, and you won’t be left with one container holding mostly vegetables and your last container holding mostly broth.

Vegetable Chowder

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O Canada: Quebec Three Bean Soup with Bannock

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When you type in searches for French-Canadian soups on the internet you get a plethora of results.  “Plethora” is one of my favourite words.  That and the Spanish “desafortunadamente,” which gets me every time.

Jess sent me this beauty, passed down from the Iroquois nation.  I decided, however, that the ingredients were slightly too close to the hodgepodge I made earlier, and I want to give you guys some variety.

There are also a ton of recipes out there for a yellow split pea soup that is quintessentially French-Canadian.  Turn the peas green and you get pea soup from the Maritimes.  Thicken it up a little and steam it in a wee bag and you get pease pudding from the Atlantic.

I dislike all pea soups.  Sorry.  You won’t see one here.

If you happen to Google “French-Canadian bean soup” you get further interesting results.  Apparently, Arthur Flegenheimer (who went by the name of Dutch Schultz), was a rum-runner and all-out nasty mobster during Prohibition in the US in the early part of the 20th century (as a bit of Canadiana for you, pretty much all the contraband booze smuggled onto American soil during that time came from Canada, which wasn’t really into teetotalling).  Anyway, while using the men’s room at a New Jersey hotel, Schultz was repeatedly shot.  It took him about two and a half hours to die of his wounds, and when the police arrived to arrest the dying man, one of the officers recorded his words.  One sentence involved “French-Canadian bean soup.”  Who knew?  These words have been turned into all sorts of literature, most notably that of Hunter S. Thompson.  Weird stuff.

But we’re making soup here, not discussing books.

I cobbled together a recipe from here, here, and also from Jess’s suggestion above.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

First, I got myself some local fall vegetables, some sweet potatoes and an acorn squash.  Use whatever squash you like.  Or none at all.  Soups are pretty fluid, both conceptually and literally.  Ha.  Ha.

Slice up your squash and remove the seeds.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Slice up some sweet potato too.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Roast them until they’re browning at the edges and fragrant, about 45 minutes.  Remember to flip them every once in a while.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Meanwhile, drain and rinse 3 cans of beans.  I used romano, white kidney, and chickpea.  Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) seem to be consistent throughout these recipes, so I would make sure to use that one.  But other people use cannelini beans and lima beans and whatever else they have on hand.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up an onion.  I have two halves of a red and a white so I’m going with that one.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Chuck the onion in a large saucepan with some minced garlic and some dried herbs, such as basil, and sauté until tender.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up some carrots and celery and add those to the mix.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Plop in the beans as well.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add 1 can diced tomatoes.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When your roasted vegetables are ready, peel off their skins, cube them up, and chuck them into the pot. Don’t fret too much about cutting up the squash super small — it will fall apart and smush itself as it simmers in the pot.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Cover with vegetable or chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Now for the bannock.  As a child, on every field trip we went that involved learning some aspect of Canadian history (the Goldrush, the Fur Trade, the Potlatch, the Salmon Fishery …) we ended up making bannock on green peeled sticks over a campfire.  Every.  Time.

As a result, bannock in my mind will forever taste of ashes and stick.

But you can make it in a skillet too.  To avoid the taste of raw stick and ash.

Apparently, bannock is a Scottish flatbread, stolen from the Romans so very long ago.  If you squint your eyes you can kind of see how the Latin panecium can be bastardized into the Gaelic bannock.  Sure.  But remember that so many different cultures make a form of flatbread.  It’s some form of grain or bean flour plus water and heat and boom – flatbread.   The First Nations people of Canada, in the course of their various interactions with European settlers (good or bad), adopted and adapted bannock such that it is also recognized by many to be part of a bunch of First Nation food traditions.  Because it’s bread.  Everyone eats bread.

Some recipes for bannock use dried milk powder and shortening to fluff up the bread, but I firmly believe that this should be a flatbread, made with the barest minimum of ingredients.

So.  Dry ingredients.  Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add enough water to form a dough and mix thoroughly. This will be dependent on the moisture content of the air and your flour. I added probably half a cup to this one. You want the dough to be slightly tacky.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Divide the dough into appropriate serving sizes and flatten into patties.  Feel free to wrap a patty around a stick and shove it into a fire.

Or you can slip the patty onto a hot buttered skillet and fry, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden brown.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Serve with honey, butter, jam, salsa, soup, spaghetti … whatever you want. It’s bread.  It’s flexible.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

More Words on Bannock

Art of Manliness: Baking in the Wild

Family Oven: Bannock

M.E.C. on Bannock

WikiHow on Bannock

O Canada: Baked Beans with Toutons

Baked Beans with Toutons

My house currently smells like awesome.  All the windows are steamed up.  It’s great.

Baked beans, I think you’d agree, are a traditional staple all down the eastern seaboard of North America.  Add a splash of Québec maple syrup to the sweet, dark sauce and serve it with a side of Newfoundland toutons (“TAOW-tuns”), however, and you’ve got yourself a Canadian dish.  It all takes quite a bit of time (you have to start by soaking your beans overnight), but it’s worth it to have your house smell this good.

For the Baked Beans:

I cobbled together this bean recipe from three others, which I’ve listed at the bottom of this post.  I think baked beans are conceptually pretty fluid, so feel free to experiment on your own.

Baked Beans with Toutons

This recipe also involves some interesting food items that are not usual additions to my refrigerator contents: fatback pork and salt pork.  If you can’t find fatback pork or pre-cut scruncheons, you can also deep-fry the toutons in vegetable oil.  Here in St. John’s, salt meat, which you can buy in 4L buckets, has its own section in the grocery store, right next to the bologna section.  That’s right, bologna section.  As in, there are several different kinds and cuts of bologna available to the residents of this lovely city.  Luckily I found smaller amounts of fatback pork and salt pork riblets, and was able to get away with just a scant pound of each, rather than having to find a use for a whole bucket of meat.  You could probably use a salty ham (Virginia-style) in place of the salt pork if you can’t find it.  And of course if you want a vegetarian version of the baked beans, leave out the pork altogether.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Start with about 4 cups dried white navy beans.  Rinse them and plop them in a bowl.  Cover them with several inches of water and leave them overnight to soak.  You may need to add more water as it gets absorbed.

Baked Beans with Toutons

The next day, drain and rinse the beans and plop them in a very large pot with three times their volume of water to cover (so take the bowl the beans were in and fill that sucker three times with water and you should be good).

Baked Beans with Toutons

Plop in 1lb salt pork.  Usually this comes on the bone.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the beans and pork simmer for 40-50 minutes, until they’re all tender and stuff.  Scoop out 1 1/2 cups bean cooking water and then drain the rest.

While the beans are simmering, finely chop up 1 large onion.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Plop the onion in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon dry mustard (Keen’s or Colman’s are the traditional versions around here), 2 teaspoons chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour into that 4-156mL cans of tomato paste (that’s about 2 1/3 cups), 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup fancy molasses, and 1/2 cup pure maple syrup.  Give that a good stir and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes.  It will bubble like the Thing from the Black Lagoon and get absolutely everywhere, so make sure to cover it.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour in the reserved bean cooking water and mix well.  You can purée it in a food processor at this point if you wish, but I didn’t bother.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Preheat your oven to 300°F.  You could do this earlier but it really doesn’t take long, so there’s no point in having your oven on for such an extended period of time.

Strip the salt pork from its bones and tear it into small pieces before tossing it back in with your drained beans.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Mix the beans and the sauce together.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish.  Cover and bake for 2-3 hours, then uncover and bake until sauce is thick and the beans are coated, about another hour.  Serve hot with toutons, or allow to cool and freeze for later.

Baked Beans with Toutons

For the Toutons:

I pulled the recipe for these weird little Newfoundland doughnuts/dumplings/biscuits from this site.  Most of the other recipes I found ended up being exact copies of this one, so I figured it was legit.  Toutons are essentially fried white bread dumplings.  Most of the time they are served doused with butter and maple syrup.  This sounds like a good idea to me.  You can buy pre-made touton dough at the gas station down the block from our house.  During the summer festival here they have touton-throwing contests.  These bready balls are evidently important to Newfoundland culture.

Start by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.  Add in 1 tablespoon traditional yeast.  Allow that to stand for 10 minutes, then stir it in until it’s all dissolved.

Baked Beans with Toutons

In a saucepan, scald 1 cup low-fat milk (the recipe called for 2% but we use 1% so I figured that would only save us from an earlier death).  Add in 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening and stir until it’s all melted.

Baked Beans with Toutons

To the hot milk, add 1/2 cup cold water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Make sure the milk mixture is lukewarm and then add the yeast mixture and stir until well-blended.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Add in 2 cups all-purpose flour and stir until it’s all smooth.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Gradually add 3-4 more cups of flour until you have a moist dough that no longer sticks to the bowl.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Shape the dough into a ball and plop it in a greased bowl, turning the ball to grease the top.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put it somewhere warm and draft-free for the dough to double in size, about an hour.

Baked Beans with Toutons

While you’re waiting, you can make your scruncheons (or scrunchins), which are fried pork back fat.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Mmmm.  Like bacon only without the actual pork.  So you take your backfat, about 1/4lb, and you cube it up as finely as you can.

Baked Beans with Toutons

This is harder than it looks.  Pig backs are tough.  Also see the surface of this particular chunk?  I’m convinced it was actual skin, because it was a pain to get through, and it fried up almost rock hard.  I suggest trimming that off if you can.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Set your raw scruncheons aside for a spell, until your dough is ready.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Punch down the dough and squeeze off pieces about 1/3 cup in size.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Flatten them to about 1/2″ thick, in a circular or triangular shape.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Fry your scruncheons until the solid pieces are golden brown and crisp.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Take them out and lay them on a paper towel.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Fry the toutons in the liquid pork fat until they are golden on both sides, a minute or so per side.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Add a dab of butter to the hot touton, sprinkle with crispy scruncheons, and douse with maple syrup.  Serve hot!

Baked Beans with Toutons

Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go and have a heart attack somewhere.

Baked Beans with Toutons

More Baked Beans:

http://canadianwinter.ca/index.php?page=canadian_winter_molasses_baked_beans

http://www.canadianliving.com/food/maple_baked_beans.php

http://suppertonight.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/canadian-baked-beans/

O Canada: Nova Scotia HodgePodge with Beer Bread

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

In light of the Multilinguist’s excursions in Vega, we are making October Canadian Cuisine feature month (the Pie is thrilled because none of it involves tofu).

What better way to start us off than to take advantage of what the autumn harvest in Newfoundland has to offer us?  This creamy vegetable stew is easy and comforting (vegetarian, too, though certainly not vegan).  The recipe for the stew comes from All Recipes (with my modifications), and the idea itself comes from Delilah, one of the Pie’s classmates.  The beer bread comes from my mother’s own cookbook on Nova Scotian eatery.

For the Beer Bread:

HodgePodge with Beer Bread
Didn't have any Nova Scotia beer on hand, sorry.

In a bowl, mix 3 cups self-raising flour with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.  If you don’t have self-raising flour, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into every cup of all-purpose flour.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 1 12oz bottle of beer and mix well.  Use a commercially produced beer for a lighter loaf, or a home made beer for a denser loaf.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

This is supposed to turn out more like a batter, and you can see here that one bottle of beer has just produced a really dry dough.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

I poured in almost a whole ‘nother beer before I got the consistency I was looking for, but this will depend on your flour, your beer, the temperature/pressure/humidity of your environment, whether or not you got out of bed on the right side or the left side, whether a butterfly really did flap its wings in Brazil … you get the idea.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour into a greased loaf pan and chuck it into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

The loaf will sound solid when you tap it and be a pale golden when it’s done.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Serve hot.  Also good the next day if you have any left over.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

For the HodgePodge:

Peel and dice 1 medium-sized turnip.  Chuck that in a large saucepan.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Dice 3-4 carrots and chuck those in as well.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Trim the ends off a couple handfuls of fresh wax beans (those are the yellow ones) and cut them into 1-2″ pieces.  Do the same with several handfuls fresh green beans.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add enough water to the saucepan to cover the vegetables.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Cube up 5-6 small potatoes and add that to the pot.  Let that simmer another 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 6 tablespoons butter and 1-2 cups heavy cream (we used a blended table cream here) and stir that in for a few minutes.  Soy milk would also work well here.  I have used soy milk in chowders and it provides a rich, nutty flavour that complements the vegetables nicely.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add 2-3 tablespoons flour to 1 cup water and stir that around.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour the flour water into the saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for a few more minutes to thicken the broth.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot with beer bread.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Frankly, both the Pie and I found the hodgepodge a little on the bland side.  It tasted kind of like invalid soup.  But it was good.  And totally freeze-able.  Next time, though, I think I’d add an onion, some garlic, and some spices.  The beer bread was excellent and we plan to have what’s leftover with some chili tomorrow night.

Quick Chili

Fall is always a busy season for me.  Usually, school is ramping up and the hot weather has disappeared, leaving me with more energy to get out and be active.  Plus the hockey season starts in October, and that keeps me busy until June.

As the outside temperature cools, we start making hotter dishes to keep us warm.  But because the fall is so busy, we don’t always have the time to have some sort of comfort food simmering on the stove all day.

This chili recipe can be ready in half an hour, and tastes almost as good as its slow-cooker counterpart.

So you start, as always, with an onion and some garlic.  I of course use garlic-in-a-jar, but you can use whatever you like.

Chop up the onion.

This is where I like to use the new love of my life, the Onion Goggles.  I’ve tried knives dipped in lemon juice, and cutting onions next to an open flame, but these work wayyyyy better.

Of course, I look like a total dweeb when I wear them.

Anyway, chuck your onion in a saucepan with some garlic and olive oil and cook until the onions are translucent.

Chop up two red peppers and chuck them in as well, together with some chopped fresh basil.

Add in some cumin, chili powder, and tabasco sauce (hot sauce) to taste, together with whatever else you need to make it the kind of spicy you’re in the mood for.

Our hot sauce came from my brother’s wedding.  It’s pretty good.

Next you can add in your beans.  White beans, black beans, kidney beans, it really doesn’t matter (well, perhaps not broad beans).  They can come from a can or a bag, but make sure they’re cooked before you chuck them in.  This is a bean medley my mother cooked up a while ago and froze.

Pour in a can of diced tomatoes.

Add a handful or two of TVP if you wish.  If you think the chili is too liquidy, you can also add a can of tomato paste for thickening.

I like to pop in some frozen corn when it’s almost ready.

Let it simmer the whole time you’re adding stuff, then for about twenty minutes after you’ve added the last ingredient.

Serve hot, store in your refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze it for a quick dinner some time later on.

Garbage Soup with Squash, Spinach, Beans and Barley

Don’t let the name of this soup turn you off: it’s just a moniker my mother applied to any soup she made out of what was left in our refrigerator.

This week I had leftover spaghetti squash from my earlier experiment, as well as leftover cavatappi pasta from our spaghetti night.  What to do . . . ?

The nice thing about soups is they’re dead easy.  I filled a large pot with water and set it to boil.  I added a few heaping spoonfuls of Knorr Vegetable Stock (I use the powder instead of the liquid because I usually can’t use a whole carton before it goes bad and I don’t like to waste it).

Let the soup simmer for a couple of hours on medium-low.

I peeled and chopped a large parsnip and a small turnip (actually a rootabega but who’s checking?) and chucked them in the pot, together with a handful of pearl barley and about a cup of dried white beans.  I also added about a cup’s worth of frozen spinach to the mix, as well as the leftover squash and pasta.  There was already a significant amount of basil in the pesto that was on the squash (as well as the hazelnuts and parmesan cheese), so I didn’t add any other herbs to the mix.  When we eat it we usually add salt and pepper to suit our individual tastes.

Once I got the soup boiling, stirring often, I turned it down to a simmer, medium low, for about two hours, until the beans were cooked and the rootabega was tender.

We ate it hot with tabouleh sandwiches, and it was great.

My dad got me these bowls for Christmas. I am Big Al.

I let the rest of it cool and ladled it into yogurt containers for storage.  I find the yogurt container is a good standard measure for freezing, as it contains about two full servings.

Yogurt containers are a good size for two servings.