Sleeping at friends' for the night - I will be staying with my friends John and Kristin for the rest of the week. Beth moved out to Chicago and I am currently in-between housing. I knew that I wanted to write something about all of this but I'm not sure what. Instead of that I will post about food, since this is something of a food blog and all or something.
In anticipation of cooking for Beth soon, and with notes of admiration and appreciation of her love for many things pumpkin, I decided to kick out a pumpkin soup. Now this isn't a straight copy cat or even an iteration of the Chilitoaxilitlo Vegan Pumpkin Chili Recipe , but I would utterly be remiss if I didn't say they were siblings and cut from the same cloth or [insert other cliche]. That is, this is the healthier sibling.
Anyway, the backbone of each is a curried-mex seasoning base, pumpkin body stouted with refried beans, sauteed onions with simmered pumpkin (after roasting and pureeing), and a good warm hearty helping of love that just hugs you across your shoulders and brings you in tight.
Step One: Roast Pumpkins - In this instance, we have two pie pumpkins (the small kind). Pre-heat your oven to 350'F. Fill a cookie sheet with high edges with a quarter inch of water and put on top of the oven. Scrub dirt and whatever else of the exterior of the pumpkins. Split down the middle, scoop out seeds (do whatever you like to do with pumpkin seeds to them). Place the pumpkin halves face down on sheet, put in oven and roast for about one hour, or until a fork goes through the skin easily. Remove and cool.
Step Two: Seasoning, Sauteeing, Seasoning - During the course of the roasting of the pumpkins you will sautee two onions in a dutch oven and add your seasoning base. Per the caption, the seasonings used were Kosher salt, asian chili powder*, nooch, BBQ 3000*, caraway seed, Northwest Fire, cayenne*, aleppo pepper*, smoked paprika*, turmeric, garam masala, Cajun seasoning*, black salt, ginger. In this instance, only the pepper based spices (marked *) spices got added before the oil and toasted up first, but the remainder got added after the onions got sweated so it's a pretty easy cook.
Not pictured but also added: a heaping helpiong of nooch (nutritional yeast, I don't like to use it to add flavor actually and use it sparely, in this case it hides well and you're making some six quarts of soup) and a big squeeze of bragg's (same goes here, can sub soy sauce).
Anyway, chop two sweet onions, set aside. Put a six quart dutch oven on your stove and start heating it to low-medium. Add the spices above marked with an asterisk and gently toast them; the trick here is to warm them until they are more fragrant than they would be straight from the bottle (esp. if you do not know the potency/age of the spices you are using) without pushing them to their smoking point. If they smoke, you will probably need to start again; however you can saute a few chopped onions to test where the spices got to. By the way, low-medium will probably be too high if you are not using a heavy bottom pot like a dutch oven.
Once you've toasted those first few spices, add a few tablespoons of olive oil (don't worry about it, you're making a low cholesterol soup with plenty of fiber and vitamins; you deserve it) and get to it with all the other spices.
Just a reminder on measurements of spices and vegan fu nomfg: you can figure this out for yourself. I will give you the lines I make with the spices, but you don't want my palate so you don't want my metrics. I am always surprised when people can bear something I've actually made mostly for myself.
Anyway, you can turn the heat down to super low and sautee these guys real slow; you'll have an hour before the pumpkins are done and the more carmelly the onions the better. At any rate, get them at least translucent - bonus points for carmelized bits.
Step Three: Puree Pumpkins - Once a fork goes through the skin nice and easy the pumpkins are done. You will have roasted and steamed them. Remove them from the oven and cut each half in half; place on a cutting board to cool, drain water from cookie sheet and set aside to cool. Once you can handle the pumpkins without scalding your hands from the direct contact or the steam (rubber gloves help), you will use the stem to peel back and off the skin. Discard skin, put pumpkin hunks in your favorite food processor.
I had the amazing fortune of getting to choose between a super-retro cuisinart and a vita-mix. I went with the higher capacity vita-mix; capacity means here both volume as well as blending power. So anyway, peel off skin and any remaining guts, put one cup of coconut milk beverage per one pumpkin in for blending. Process until smooth. Repeat for second pumpkin. In the first batch, add one can of vegan refried beans and one can of chiles en adobo to the second batch.
Obviously you can do less ready-made ingredients for either and make it that much better. For my next iteration, I am planning on frijoles negro and making fresh chili powder a la homesick texan's recipe. Or you can take it easy if you spent all that day walking around being overly sentimental on a coldish day. Just make sure the puree is wholly smooth and you're ready to add to the dutch oven.
Add a cup of coffee to the onions in the dutch oven on the stove top and turn the heat to medium. Let simmer. Did you turn the oven off after your pumpkins came out? If so, turn it back on to 300-350 depending on how little attention you feel like paying to it while it combines. Add the batches of pumpkin puree to the dutch oven, bring to a low simmer, cover with lid, then pop in the oven. Pull and stir every fifteen or twenty minutes. The baking will take at least thirty minutes and should be gauged by whether the flavors are adequately merged. Totally a subjective metric. Deal with it.
Step Four: Them collards - While the pot is in the oven, wash and strip from the stem one pound of collard greens (basically, a big bunch). Once the leaves are all cleaned from the stems, flatten out and chop into half inch squares, or ribbons, or whatever shape you like in a more raw, toothsome texture.
Once the soup has been in the oven a bit and finished, you will pull it and toss in all the collard greens. Stir them all in and pop back in the oven for another five minutes or until the greens are adequately heated up to their surrounding medium, but not over-cooked (note: five minutes keeps them pretty raw, but that my preference as they come out more like noodles than wilty bits).
Step Five: Get dressed - For my first foray, I went with a pretty naked soup approach and it was great. On the second round I added some walnuts I had roasted with the BBQ seasoning, garlic powder, and salt as weird alien skull croutons and topped it with some cashew sour cream Miss Kristin had prepared using the Vegan Brunch recipe. That was pretty rad too, but I think some focaccia toast would have made it the radness either way.
So, this is actually a very simply soup. Steam, saute, puree, simmer, eat. Anyone can make it and it needs as much care as you want to give.
The reason for making so much soup was so it would be there a lot of the week, to share with John and Kristin, and to practice for cooking for Beth. This was on Saturday and was very effective. Now its Tuesday.
- IF time = 15:05 EST
- IF depart = 18:00 EST, 11/9/12
- IF travel = 8:00 hr
- THEN T = 02:00 EST, 11/10/12
- ~T minus 82 hours