Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bountiful broccoli

I do love broccoli. I couldn't resist picking up a few heads at the farmers' market a couple of weeks ago. It was just gorgeous, so I bought more than I should have for a person who lives alone and eats a diverse diet. Yes, I was downright brassica rich. After making a couple of batches of my favorite broccoli (with garlic, crushed red pepper, raisins, and almonds), and a couple of stirfries, I still had a few heads of the beautiful green veggie in the fridge. So I went to one of my favorite food blogs, Food52, for some inspiration. And inspiration I found.

I made a few adjustments, of course: more garlic, because the original recipe only called for 2 cloves(!), and the addition of a celery root because I had one and also because it turned out that when I measured it I did not actually have quite as much broccoli as I thought. (Must be those midnight elves who sneak in and eat my produce while I sleep... but who, alas, don't seem inclined to do the dishes while they're in my kitchen.) The result was so delicious, I made another big pot of it the following week, when a canceled class left me with a plethora of extra broccoli. It turned out perfectly again.

Since this recipe is too good not to share, I offer you:

Roasted Broccoli and Celery Root Soup
Serves 4-6


  • 2 heads broccoli, cut into florets, with stems peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 celeriac, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4-6 cups stock (depends on how thick you want your soup)
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan
  • juice from 1 lemon


Steam broccoli and celeriac til broccoli turns bright green. Drain well, set aside.

Add the olive oil and garlic to the pot, cook over medium heat for 2 mins, then add the broccoli and celeriac, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cover the pot, turn the heat down as low as it will go, and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is soft enough that it yields when you press it with the back of a wooden spoon (it may brown a little during this process -- this is a good thing).

Add stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the soup for 5 minutes.

Puree half the soup in a blender or food processor. Stir the puree back into the pot.

Stir in the Parmesan and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't be a jerk

I've been craving black bean soup like crazy as the temperatures have started dropping to serious winterlike levels, so the other day I started soaking a couple cups of dry black beans. The next day I drained them and started simmering them with a spoonful of ground cumin and ginger (which I had heard helps to reduce the gas these delicious legumes are known to produce) in a fresh batch of water. I drained my softened beans, got out a lime and some more ground cumin, and because I could not for the life of me recall what all else I needed, I called the woman who makes some of the best black bean soup I've had in my life: my mom.

She graciously unearthed the index card, handwritten copy of the recipe that I've been enjoying since middle school, and dictated it to me over the phone. I was surprised at how simple it was: 2 cans of black beans, water, a lime, and Jamaican jerk spice. That's it. Delicious. But I was scandalized. "Jamaican jerk spice?? What about cumin? Cilantro? Chili? At least an onion, right??" Nope. All the flavor comes from the jerk seasoning. What's in that, anyway?

I did just finish a series of FoodPrints lessons teaching 3rd graders to be avid readers of ingredient labels, after all. Yep, it was as I suspected: lots of salt. I could do better than this, I decided. Plus, it was awfully cold outside and I wanted to avoid a trip to the store to purchase my single missing ingredient. I would work with what I had around the kitchen.... The result was delicious (though it will never quite replace my mom's recipe and its plethora of fond memories).

Black Bean Soup (from scratch)
Makes 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are


  • 2 cups dry black beans, soaked overnight, simmered until soft, then drained
    (you can use 3-4 cans of beans, but they're pricier and less nutritious -- just sayin')*
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (make your own!)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 - 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed then finely minced
  • 1-2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • a sprinkle (1/4 tsp?) cayenne
  • a sprinkle of ground nutmeg
  • a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch or two of ground allspice
  • 1-2 tsp tamari (or soy sauce, but I swear tamari is better)
  • juice from 1 lime (2 TBSP, roughly)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • plain greek yogurt (optional), for garnish
  • fresh cilantro (optional), for garnish
  • additional lime wedges, for garnish

  1. Heat a medium pot with a few glugs of olive oil, then stir in onions and cook over low heat until soft, stirring occasionally so things don't stick too much (5-10 minutes).
  2. Stir in the shallots, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Turn up the heat as you stir in the cumin, thyme, cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and tamari,
  4. When these have sizzled for about a minute, stir in most of the beans (I set aside about 1/2 cup) and all of the broth. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, puree the soup, then stir in the remaining beans and the lime juice. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves, along with a lime wedge for folks to squeeze in just before eating. I also made some cheddar jalapeno corn muffins because, hey, what is black bean soup without cornbread?
*Check out this previous post for some tips on cooking dry bean.