Archives for posts with tag: sour soups

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I’m feeling happy for the emergence on the food scene of Olia Hercules. I saw this film a while back and felt really thrilled to be learning from someone so deeply rooted in her own food traditions (and she’s deliberate on that plural) yet gifted with such a light and beautiful cook’s touch. That Ukrainian Green Borsht of hers is of course a much more vivacious cousin to my prosaic Schav.

Today in the Guardian is an excerpt from her new book Mamushka. I want it! Want want want! Because I know I’m going to be bowled over with inspiration, just as I was simply from reading about the way she uses fermented herbs in her lovely and simple soup.  Make sure to check out the link.

Her version uses dill, parsley, sorrel, celery, and spring onions. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Nettle Sorrel Soup was so delicious, I considered it a gateway to Schav, a purer use of sorrel that by never having sampled had become a little mythic. You eat it cold.  And yes, that’s the true colour in the photo above, what we might have thought of as pea-green, a little dreary, a little khaki. I resisted the photoshop urge because I want to speak the truth about Schav.  I placed the spoon in this position so you too could imagine picking it up and experiencing a spoon-full.

It’s what the real old-timers ate, the ones who gesticulated with their hands and ate intense, heavy food like … Liver and Egg Salad, or Chopped Liver in moulded, perhaps grotesque shapes, maybe with strawberries, maybe with pineapple.  Or at least such recipes appear in my all time favourite Jewish cookbook Love and Knishes, along with loads of dishes with schmaltz and lima beans and kasha– these kind of ingredients.  So the book was a natural first place to look for an “authentic” recipe for Schav.

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Love and Knishes is a charming book. Read the rest of this entry »

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All week I’d been throwing things into a small stock pot: onion and leek scraps, parsley stems, skin from roasted pumpkin, carrot scrapings and beetroot skins.

I simmered them and made a stock for a nice lentil soup (which included some #pumpkinrescue pumpkin).  Beet is a wonderful ingredient in stocks, but sometimes it’s the only time the gorgeous colour feels wrong, because it announces itself rather than coming in with stealth. Unannounced, beet is a great suggester of the richness of meat– there’s something of blood and iron in the flavour.  It’s great grated into vegetarian “Spag Bol” variations for this reason, though again, the colour needs to be accepted in this instance, not fought.

We’ve been busy, and the extra “stock” was sitting out on the stove stop, unstrained, unrefrigerated.  Yesterday I sieved out the vegetable bits to put the liquid in the fridge.  Tasting it, it was sour, and I thought, off.  And was about to chuck it.  Me!  Ms Ferment, Ms Anti-Waste, throwing out food!.

But I thought again, and tasted a bigger sip.

Read the rest of this entry »

The End of the Lime: Some Top Tips

The End of the Lime, or, How Not to Waste that Precious Little Dehydrated Organic Golf Ball That’s Come All the Way from Mexico.

There they were, free for me to take, because otherwise they’d be thrown-out and wasted. Un-pretty, un-sellable, un-loved.

Did you know:  if you cut a lime in thirds, on the vertical axis, you get sections that yield the most juice. Different from the geometry of other citrus fruits.

These were so hard, I wasn’t sure I could even get a knife through them. Then I had the brain-wave to just throw one in with the chicken bones, zest and all, as the acidic element that helps those bones offer up their mineral goodness into the stock that is the basis of so many soups.  Despite my efforts to get this family eating lower on the food chain, when we do eat something with bones, I make the most of them this way.  All scraps (except Brassicas, which get bitter [though that may be a gospel I’m ready to question]) from leeks and onions and carrots and parsnips and bits of herbs and nettles and potato skins (if not green) and and and…

(I love this post on the wonderful blog Foodways Pilgrim on Potato Peel Broth)

In this case, I knew the stock was going to the agent of transformation for the leftovers from a curry my husband made for supper, to become, with  red lentils and some yoghurt, a soup. And there was the lime, looking forlorn, and I wanted to sour up that curry soup, and I wanted some of that calcium out of the chicken bones, and I just, maybe a bit recklessly, plopped it into the simmering stock.

(Here’s a great article on why not to use the word “curry” as I just did.)

In the morning, I strained the stock and examined the lime, and it had rehydrated in a beautiful way, and conferred it’s sharp bright lime-ness into the liquid.  Now I am bemoaning the times in life I’ve tossed Citrus Rocks.  Now I know to reconstitute them this way.

And the soup was delicious.

I wonder if just soaking in plain old water would work?

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PS On the Lime Shortage that’s causing prices to skyrocket:

PPS: A top tip from a very nice lady I met: put dried out lemons and limes briefly in a microwave if you have one for the freer flow of juice….

 

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A link for you: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/fermenting-beetroot-preserving-your-abundant-crops-making-elixir

I wrote this article a while back, though it’s quite heavily edited, and the photo in it is not mine (and not what my borschts look like) but hey ho.  It appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Permaculture Magazine.  I’m linking to it here because it’s just been put on that wonderful website which makes me happy: people-scale solutions, positivity, DIY, community, openness…

I would nowadays describe making Beet Kvass this way:  Finely chop a few beets, add a teeny bit of salt for taste, and whatever flavours you like: ginger, garlic, orange, clove, fennel seed, lovage, nettle — whatevs!  Cover with water, and weight down the solids to be completely under the liquid. Watch for a few days as the liquid gets pinker, more and more gorgeous a colour, and more viscous and velvety.   At some point it’s nicely tangy, strain out the solids, and if you bottle and cap the drink, which I now see as a fermented infusion, and drink it soon, can be pleasantly effervescent.  (Let the gas out now and then to prevent an explosion– but you’ll probably drink it first.)

The solids that remain in the sieve: yes you can pickle in apple cider vinegar for a soft, traditional British style pickle, or you can grate in a salad. Or add to soups.  Or re-ferment, doing all of the above, again.  I have even used these semi-tired beetroot shreds to make vinegar, by adding a little sugar and water and inviting the alcohol that develops to morph into a wild vinegar, as discussed earlier in this blog.  The vinegar that’s resulted has been a beautiful ingredient to deglaze pans of sautéed bitter greens, and also in soups.

I would no longer suggest grating the beetroot for fermentation purposes, because the slow development of nice souring lactic-acid bacteria is often trumped by all the sugars released this way, and shredding beets can create an unwanted gloopiness.  Chop finely instead.   (I do love raw grated beetroot one way: in a lemony vinaigrette; the sweetness really shines this way.)

And Borscht.  So very much to say.  My mother taught me to make a recipe I now look at askance– lots of vegetables like carrots, onions, beetroot, so it would be that gorgeous purple, but soured with vinegar not by fermentation….   Some people make very beety soups, pureed or not, and call them borscht. I don’t know what technically defines the category of soup referred by this name, but I would not personally consider a soup to be one if it were not sour, and to me it’s more of one if it’s soured with fermented beets.  So I would now always use my “kvass” as the souring agent at the end— maybe it would begin with chicken or beef stock, or veg stock, have many vegetables including cabbage, and maybe even sauerkraut, but be finished with chopped or shredded beets.  Hot and sour is a very bright and healing combination for soup.  Cold and sour too.   I’ve seen versions bright pepto-bismol pink with cream or sour cream, and sometimes chopped hard-boiled eggs.  Potatoes are welcome, and carrots.  I like adding the beet greens too.  There’s a huge range of soups across Eastern European traditions.  It would be a fun anthropological exercise to collect and categorise all that variation and diversity.

I have a wonderful 1956 cookbook which I treasure: Love and Knishes: An Irrepressible Guide to Jewish Cooking, by Sara Kasdan.  It was 20pence at a charity shop! (I am proud to say that I edited the Wikipedia entry on the illustrator Louis Slobodkin to include mention of his drawings which are charming, light-weight line drawings of big breasted women cooking and serving steaming portions to skinny men.)   Kasdan writes about “Russel,” or “sour beet juice” which is basically beetroots fermented in water for four weeks to become the basis of a soup.  I knew a Polish person who described this same method, with a hunk of sourdough bread and garlic– all variations of what we are nowadays as fermenters talking about as Kvass.

Since writing the piece linked above,  I’ve made so many bottles of this beetroot kvass, with various spices (favourite: cloves and ginger and maybe orange peel) — and poured it in so many soups, I still believe in this idea of a continuum between the tonic, health giving beverage, as Kvass has come to be thought about, and the soup.  I’ve also become intensely interested in the idea and practice of the sour soup, which I will write about on this blog some day soonish. No colour is more alluring than these purply pinks that one gets from various intensities of beet-in-water.  Elixer conjures a magic I still stand by.

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/fermenting-beetroot-preserving-your-abundant-crops-making-elixir

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