Fickle Maine Weather and Ying & Yang Soup

on Monday, 23 May 2011. Posted in Food & Wine

2 Comfort Soups to warm up a Maine Spring

It is very obvious to me now, someone forgot to pay homage to the weather goddess. Maine is known for “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute” philosophy, but I can't wait. I'm ready for the weather goddess to change the cold & wet to warm and partly sunny. In the mean time, 4_bowls_ying_and_yang_soupI need soup, but just not any soup, to cope with this overcast.   I need my Ying & Yang Soup made from Spring “pumpkin” soup and a hearty spicy black bean soup. I call this combination that because when you serve the soups, you put pumpkin on ½ of the bowl or soup plate and put the black bean on the other side. Put a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and garnish with some salsa and sprigs of chives.  I poured a glass of wine to sustain me while making two different soups to serve for dinner. For the wine, I chose R. Nicoll Not So Dry which would go well with the spring “pumpkin” soup. 

I prefer fresh organic ingredients, and I favor frozen. I will use canned when I have no other choice or for tomatoes. Savory pumpkin soup is hard to make in May from fresh pumpkin and my frozen fall pumpkin puree was all gone. What to do? I had a plan –use sweet potatoe, butternut squash, and carrots. They would have the right color and would take the savory sweet spices well. When I served it, I told the dinner guests that they were having pumpkin soup. They didn’t disagree. I asked them to taste again, same comments. I told the true source of the pumpkin soup and was told – “Good job, now share it.”

To make the black bean soup I used organic dried beans that I had cooked and frozen. This soup needs to be hot, spicy, and flavorful. I soaked some ancho chilies in warm water so that I could add them to the soup while cooking the onions and garlic and when pureed they would add great depth. 

The trick in producing the ying & yang effect for serving isFilling_soup_plate tipping the serving bowls. In the picture, the soup plate is raised up on the left side by a small dish. Take the thicker soup and ladle it into the lower part of the bowl until the desired depth. Then pour or ladle the other soup in place as you slowly level the bowl. The soups will stay separate this way. You can do a swirl with the back of a spoon handle for even more beauty. Be creative on decorative elements for service. 

Here is the "pumpkin" soup recipe.

Spring “Pumpkin” Soup

1 large Vidalia onion, chopped

1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

1 piece fresh ginger – 1” x 1 ¼” grated

3 large sweet organic carrots, peeled and grated

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 lbs of sweet potato, peeled and grated

3 lbs butternut squash, peeled & cubed into ½” cubes

1 ½ quarts (48 oz) organic veggie stock without tomatoes in it

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

5 slices organic Thailand candied ginger chopped fine

Salt & pepper to taste

Optional: 3 – 4 Tablespoons ground flax seed

Saute’ the onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened.Saute_onions_ginger_carrots
Using the chop & drop method  (immediately add after preparing the vegetable to the pot)– add in order: fresh ginger, carrots, organic sweet potato. Stir after each new ingredient addition and sauté until very soft. Now add the tumeric and a few grinds of white pepper from a pepper mill (1/4 teaspoon).

While that is happening, peel and cube the squash. Add to the sautéing vegetables and stir well. Add the freshly grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder. Stir. Add one quart of organic vegetable stock that doesn't have any tomatoes in it. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Check liquid and add up to 16 oz more stock if necessary. Reduce heat and simmer until all the vegetables are soft.  Add the candied ginger, salt & pepper and optional flax seed.

Using a stick blender, puree the soup in the pot. If you don’t have one, take some out and carefully puree the soup in a blender, returning to a pot.  When heating a pureed soup, keep the heat low or you might scorch it. You want a thick soup that coats your spoon and doesn't slide off quickly. Retaste the soup and adjust seasonings. This soup is great the first day, but best the next day after chilling in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors really marry.  

Pair with a semi-dry wine such as R. Nicoll Not So Dry for a hint of sweet but a nose of wildflowers and summer fruits.

Ying_and_Yang_SoupHere is the soup with its complimentary black bean soup.

©2011 Alice G. Bean Andrenyak

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