Ginger

A summer zucchini soup in a curry-coconut broth

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Today, I leave you with something short.

The first zucchini I ever saw, I killed it with a hoe.”
— John Gould, Monstrous Depravity: A Jeremiad & a Lamentation about Things to Eat, 1963

This soup is one of my favorite dishes. We leave for Guatemala tomorrow and I could not be more excited (stayed toned on a future post featuring.... I don't know... Guatemalan chocolate maybe?). I've been frantically trying to eat up garden produce before we leave. Nothing is sweeter than summer squash straight from the vine (well, maybe summer tomatoes). This dish originally started with making Hedi Swanson's summer squash soup found in her Super Natural Every Day. The first time I made it was when I was living in Charleston, SC. I've been making it for 3 summers now and it has adapted into my own dish. I hope you do the same to yours :).


Recipe (Serve 4 large servings or 6 small)

Curry paste

Turmeric root (fresh) - 2 small numbs, peeled, about 2 - 3 TB

Hot pepper - 1 (deseeded), chopped in half. (I've used every type of hot pepper here. I've tried jalapeño, ghost pepper, habanero, and thai pepper. My favorite is actually the ghost pepper but used whichever pepper you have or to your heat preference.

Garlic - 4 cloves, peeled

Ginger root (fresh) - One small numb, peeled, 1-2 TB

Miso - 2tsp (I used yellow miso)

Soy sauce  - 1 TB (I used tamari)

Shallot - 1 small shallot, peeled  coarsely chopped (I've also used a few TB of red onion when I did not have shallot around)

Lemongrass (fresh) - 1 - 2 small stalks of lemongrass. The papery outer layers discarded. You only want to use the soft/tender inner parts of the lemongrass.

* Place all the curry paste ingredients in a small blender or food processor. I use a small "magic bullet" type blender for this... it just works so well! Blend until smooth & set aside for later.

Soup

Coconut oil - 4.5TB

Vegetable broth - 2.5 cups

Coconut milk - 16 ounce can (I used light but regular would taste wonderful too)

Zucchini - 1 large zucchini, cut into thin half moons

Yellow squash - 1 small, cut into thin half moons

Tofu (extra firm) - pressed & cut into medium chunks

Soy sauce - 1.5 Tb (I used tamari)

Cherry tomatoes - 1 cup, halved

Red onion - 1/4 a small red onion, slivered

Eggplant (optional) - I had a few baby eggplants that I added this time ( 3 baby eggplants), sliced really thin, like 1/8 an inch.

Fresh basil - chopped (any type if basil will work)

Salt - to taste

* Chop up all your ingredients. Place the squashes, eggplant (if using), and red onion in a bowl together. The tofu & cherry tomatoes can remain separate. Place 1.5 Tb of coconut oil in a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add all of your squash mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5-8 mins. Until all the vegetables are tender but still have a little crunch. You don't want them too watery & soft. Dump the vegetables back out into a bowl.

Place the skillet back over heat and add 2 TB of coconut oil. Add in your tofu and cook on high, tossing frequently, until the tofu gets brown & crispy. After about 5 - 10 mins of crisping up the tofu add in the soy sauce & toss to combine. Dump out the tofu into the bowl with the squash. Then return the skillet to medium heat & add in your cherry tomatoes. Cook for a min or two until blistered. Then dump into the bowl with the rest of your veggies.

Then get out a medium pot & heat it over medium high heat. Add in your last TB of coconut oil. Once it is hot add in all of your curry paste. Stir to combine & let bubble for 1 min. Then pour in your coconut milk. Stir to combine and let it cook for a min or two, until the coconut milk starts to bubble around the edges. Then add in your veggie broth. Let cook for a few more mins, until the broth is thoroughly heated through & bubbling. Add in your basil (reserve some basil for the top - if desired) & salt to taste (remember the miso & soy sauce is already pretty salty). Distribute the vegetable/ tofu mixture into four bowls. Distribute the brother into the four bowls evenly. Sprinkle basil on top, if using.

Enjoy!

* If you are saving leftovers, I would store the veggies & the broth in separate containers.

Spring rolls with radish & ginger mushrooms + a cashew dipping sauce

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I made these spring rolls the day before the equinox for a potluck at my last herbalism class. I made them without tofu at first but we had a hankering for ones that we didn't have to share, so with my left-over rice wrappers, I made them again but this time with tofu. I thought spring rolls were the perfect thing for that potluck, calling in the new season with their bright ingredients and fresh crunch. Although, it seems spring hasn't quite made it here yet, we've had several snows since, a particularly good one Sunday night. I am really ready for spring, not just ready, I crave it to help me get my act together. The warmth to thaw everything out and provoke motivation and clarity. I think this weather is actually following in line with what I am feeling. Just as spring peeks out, my hopes get up and then the temperature drops and down flutters the snow. I feel like I am just on the edge of something and I keep dangling over the cliff, testing the plunge but then stumble back again. I know there is suppose to be balance and it is coming, I have to believe that it is coming. Something to scoop me up from the uncertainty I've been a prisoner too these past 3 months. It has made me feel worthless, the type of worthless we all feel sometimes. 

My heart is just yearning for the fun that awaits us this summer. We are going to Denver, a place I think will feel much more like home than Charlottesville has, but also all the things we will get to experience because of it. I haven't had the opportunity to explore on that side of the country. I am really yearning for the possibilites of what we will see, even if we don't get to see everything. The list is endless; salt lake city with a long soak in the great salt lake, the desert in Utah, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the redwoods, the tetons, skiing, California, the Rockies, elk, Yellowstone, mesa verde, hot springs, red rocks, sand dunes, hiking, hiking, and more hiking. I know that soon I will feel invigorated again but I just need to get over this personal wound I have right now and accept that balance will come soon. Spring will come soon, I'll take the plunge and with it comes clarity. Clarity to balance these past months and lead me on to something. Something that will begin with Denver. 

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Spring Rolls (Makes 8)

Rice wrapping papers - 8

Avocado - 1 cut into matchsticks

Fresh basil - 20-25 fresh leaves

Carrot - 2 large carrots cut into matchstick size

Radish - 4 radish cut into matchstick size

Royal trumpet mushrooms - (1 container) cut into matchsticks

(optional) Tofu - 1/2 a container - sliced into thin, long strips.

Coconut Oil - 2TB (Or olive oil)

Soy sauce - 1TB

Fresh spinach leaves

Red onion slivers

Ginger - a good nub minced. 

Cashew dipping sauce.

Cashew butter - 4TB

Sesame oil - 1TB

Soy sauce - 1.5TB

Rice vinegar - 2tsp

Lime - Juice of 1 lime

Sriracha sauce - a good squirt / to your taste

Heat up a kettle of water to boiling, at least 4 cups. Turn off the boiling water an set aside until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.

Slice up all your veggies into match sticks save the spinach/basil and mince up your ginger. Heat up the 2TB of oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add in the minced ginger and slivered mushrooms and tofu. Let cook about 5-10 minutes until starting to brown. Pour in the 1TB of soy sauce and stir to coat. Turn off the heat and pour into a bowl.

Pour the hot water into a bowl and add in a few ice cubes to lower the temperature until it is just cool enough for you hands to handle touching it. But you want it to be as hot as you can handle. Arrange all your sliced veggies into piles along with a bowl of the tofu/mushrooms, the basil and spinach, and the stack of the rice wrappers. 

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Take one of your rice wrappers and dip into the bowl of hot water until it softens and turns clear. Take it out and lay out the wrapper on a cutting board, handeling carefully, it tears easy. Lay down three leaves of basil in the center of the wrapper and top with a few pieces of spinach. Top with some slivers of radishes on one side, red onion and carrot on the other, top the center with the gingered mushroom/tofu and slivers of avocado. Folding is tricky, do it the best way you find but here is how I did it. I folded the bottom half over the center filling while pressing and tucking under the filling with the bottom end of the wrapper. I then folded in the sides of the wrapper and grabbed the roll and rolled upwards until the top end of the wrapper is all rolled in. Repeat with the other 7. 

Make the dipping sauce. Add in the cashew butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce in a bowl. Take the back of a fork and mash against the sides of the bowl until it all becomes incorporated. Squirt in the sriracha and juice of the lime and stir. Check the consistency and add in more sesame oil, soy sauce, or water to adjust the flavor or to thin out the sauce.

Dip and enjoy. Welcome spring. Welcome clarity.

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A scented rutabaga soup for that last cold front.

Rutabagas. 

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I love soup. I really think I could have a cup of soup, a light salad, and a good crunchy piece of bread with a smear of butter for most meals. There will be plenty more soup recipes to come in our time together, hopefully it will be a long one, but as we are approaching warming months we have to temporarily part with beloved soup. I'm sorry soup, its not you, its me, but I am sure we'll have a fling or two this summer. Rutabagas are such an interesting vegetable. They are beautiful too... and I am a sucker for anything even the slightest bit purple. I've made this soup over and over, it is fantastic. I've adapted this recipe from a cookbook Lucid Food. The ingredients here are slightly different and I change the texture of the soup quite a bit, which I think makes all the difference, but she has beautiful recipes and this soup is brilliant. Star anise and rutabaga - who knew? 

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Recipe (serves 4) 

Rutabaga - 3 cups peeled and diced

Shiitakes - About 1 scant cup chopped

Tofu - 14oz pressed and cubed

Vegetable broth - 4 cups *see note*

Shallots - 2 small, minced

Scallions - 1 bunch

Garlic - 2 cloves minced

Ginger - 1 inch numb minced

Star anise - 4 stars

Soy Sauce - 4TB

Oil - 5TB (I used coconut here for the tofu and sesame in the soup)

White pepper - 1/2Tsp generous

Rice vinegar, scallion greens, and red pepper flakes for toppings

*This recipe would be a great time to pull out any homemade vegetable broth (mushroom or any broth you have). The flavor is pretty imparted on the soup here. I happen to have some broth in my freezer I had made with significant rutabaga peelings and other roots. I like to save all my vegetable trimmings from the week and make a vat of broth.

I like to press my tofu when I have the time, or when I am frying it. It gets out the extra water so that the tofu is crisper and takes less time to pan fry. Wrap your tofu in a kitchen towel, set on a cutting board our counter and place books on top. You can do this for several hours if needed - but at least 20 minutes. Move on to prepare your soup.

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Separate you scallion "meats" from the whites and slice each thinly into slivers. Mince up your garlic, mince your shallot, and peel/cube your rutabaga into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Toss in garlic, shallots and scallions whites, let infuse and soften for a minute. Add your rutabaga, white pepper, star anise, and 2TB of soy sauce. Cook for just a few minutes. Add the stock and let boil softly for 20 minutes or until the rutabaga is very tender. 

While rutabaga is boiling and tofu is pressing mince up your ginger and trim/cube your shiitakes. Once tofu is ready slice it into about 1/2inch cubes. Heat up 2TB of coconut, sesame, or olive oil in a skillet on medium-high/high heat. Add your tofu. Cook tofu, flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden, about 5-10 minutes. Turn down heat to medium and add in another TB of oil, your ginger, and shiitakes. Cook for about 5 minutes until aromatic and shiitakes are tender. Pour over about 2TB of soy sauce and stir until absorbed. 

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Back to the rutabaga. Remove the 4 star anise - they should be floating. Pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into the pot and taste, season with salt. I usually do not need any - soy sauce is pretty salty and you are adding the tofu/shiitakes, keep this in mind. Ladle soup into bowls and place spoonfuls of the tofu/shiitake mixture in the center. Top with scallion greens, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of rice vinegar. Yum!

Even wolf pups like rutabagas. 

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