At ninety degrees plus the weather is quite unseasonable and I’m having a hard time getting into the spirit of the season. When I stopped at a popular local farm stand yesterday, I couldn’t help but thinking the apple cider, dried corn sprays and pumpkins were looking a little “unseasonable”. So I bought a relatively small pumpkin and turned on the air conditioner while I made one of my favorite Fall soups.
- 2 lbs. peeled, seeded and de-pithed pumpkin cut into two inch chunks
- One large yellow onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- One head of garlic, outer skin removed
- One large apple, peeled and cored, cut in half
- 2 large hatch chilies, seeded
- 5T olive oil
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- juice of one lemon
- 2 t cumin
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375. Place vegetables and apple in a large roasting pan and add 4T olive oil and salt. Toss to coat and bake for a half hour. At this point remove the head of garlic (if it is soft) and bake for 30-40 minutes more or until vegetables are soft and begin to caramelize. Remove the skins from the garlic and the chilies.. Chop the pumpkin, onions and apple into 1/2′ pieces
Put the reserved 1T of olive oil in large soup pot and heat until barely shimmering add cumin. When the fragrance of the cumin becomes evident, add the stock to the pan. Simmer for five minutes and add the chopped vegetables and apple. Puree everything with an immersion blender. Simmer for twenty minutes- then add the lemon juice, adjust salt and add pepper.
Serve with crusty bread- in the spirit of Fall.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
- 24 parts Cadmium Yellow
- 8 part Ultramarine Blue
- 1 part Fuchsia
By now…you are probably aware of the possible dangers of letting Lindly loose in an area of food shopping opportunities. There is the possibility of disorientation, the lure of fragrant herbs, the lust for succulence, the search for the unusual, and the definitive infinite possibilities of location.
Either everyone was extremely hungry, in a flexible mood or caught unawares Saturday afternoon. Across the street from the Philadelphia convention center is the Redding Market. It’s a hybrid of sorts – not quite a food court, not quite a farmers market…rather a dizzying array reflective of the current diversity of cuisines in America. Philly cheese steaks next to Thai noodles across the aisle from handcrafted Amish cheeses, lit by the neon lights of the beer garden, reflected in the cases of German sausages.
On my way to my pita sandwich, yards of turkey necks, unsmoked bacon, dungeness crabs, handcrafted goat cheeses, fresh baked pretzels and hand tossed pizzas flashed NCMR or no current means of refrigeration.
What did register were small Styrofoam trays of fresh Kaffir lime leaves-the distinctive fresh herb that ads the counterpoint in Thai cooking to the saltiness of the fish sauce, the joy of fresh lime juice, the depth of palm sugar, the fragrant background of galanga, the silkiness of straw mushrooms, the subtle nuttiness of the coconut milk…one of my favorite soups is constructed in four layers.
Kaffir Lime Soup
- Layer one:2 stalks lemon grass- smashed, 2-3 inch segment of fresh galanga (or ginger) smashed- add to 3 cups water in large soup pot, bring to boil and simmer twenty minutes
- Layer two:add one small onion-sliced and quartered ¼ inch thick, 4 kaffir lime leaves- slivered, three bird chilies slivered- simmer three minutes
- Layer three: three cups coconut milk, 4-6Thbs. Fish sauce, 2Tbs. Lime juice. 1-2 Tbs. palm sugar and 2 cups fresh sliced mushroom and/or can of drained straw mushroom tops sugar-bring to boil and taste…if needed add more palm sugar or fresh lime juice.Your choice: add pound diced firm tofu, half pound peeled large shrimp, a dozen mussels, four crab legs, 1/4 pound slivered chicken breast, small bundle Rice noodles…all, some or none- simmer three minutes
- Layer four:check seasoning…mouth feel should be broad and balanced-decide to add fish sauce, white pepper, lime juice, palm sugar, nothing? Bless the soup and top with a half cup thinly sliced scallions and a half cup of f fresh coriander cut into an elegant chiffonade. For those that enjoy the endorphins pass a small dish of chopped bird chilies around the table.
Still to come…why I bought the fresh curry leaves or what would be the infusion confusion…