Cottage Cooking Club – April 2017

Black pepper, rosemary, & smoked paprika cornbread

April was a whirlwind for me, so I’m only just posting my contribution to the Cottage Cooking Club now.

I’ve been trying a lot of cornbread recipes lately, both savoury and sweet, trying to find one that’s a good fit for some of the soups and stews I’ve been making this rainy spring season. The cornbread from River Cottage Everyday bridges the gap between savoury and sweet nicely for me and it just may become the house favourite here.

There’s only a tablespoon of honey in this bread, but it’s enough for me, especially for the variation I improvised with rosemary, black pepper and smoked Paprika. I also substituted some bacon fat for half the butter in this recipe, which made it even smokier. This recipe is infinitely variable, I used yogurt, but buttermilk is also an option. Add-ins include grated cheese or fresh corn, minced jalapeño or green onion, all sorts of spices and herbs – whatever piques your interest or suits your menu.

It paired well with the soup I keep making (and changing) this spring, a smoky turkey and green split pea soup that’s thick and rich, perfect for rainy day eating. I’m going to share the “recipe” with you, but it’s really just a jumping off point. This soup changes based on what’s in my fridge – my latest version included a quick stock made from the leftovers of a rotisserie chicken, some diced turkey, and (brilliantly) some diced leftover roasted sweet potato that had been seasoned with rosemary and chili flakes. The sweet potato would carry a vegan version of this soup very well.

Smoky Turkey and Green Split Pea Soup

Smoky Turkey & Green Split Pea Soup

  • 2 tbsp. butter, oil, and/or bacon fat
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil (or 1 tbsp. fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or 1-2 tsp. fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups turkey or chicken stock and/or water
  • 2 cups green split peas, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • a rind from some smoked Parmesan
  • 1 cup diced cooked turkey
  • a dash of pomegranate molasses or the juice of half a lemon (optional)
  • a few slices of cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
  • grated smoked Parmesan (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the fat in a large soup pot over medium heat, add the onion, then turn heat to low. Add the onions with a little salt. Stir occasionally, until they are starting to brown a little. Add the garlic and cook until it becomes translucent. Turn the heat to medium and add the leek, carrots, and celery, then cook until they begin to soften. Add the herbs and spices, with a few grinds of pepper and a little more salt, then stir them around a little to help release their flavour.

Add the stock and/or water and split peas, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat until the soup is at a simmer. Drop in the smoked Parmesan rind, then cook until the split peas start to become tender. If the soup starts to become too thick at any point, add more water or stock as needed.

Add the diced turkey and continue to simmer the soup until the split peas are soft – usually 30-40 minutes, but it may take longer. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, if necessary.

When ready to serve, stir in a dash of pomegranate molasses or the juice of half a lemon, if desired. Garnish with chopped, cooked bacon and/or grated smoked Parmesan, if desired.

This soup is adaptable to whatever you’ve got on hand, but here are a few ideas:

  • Use diced chicken in place of the turkey
  • Add diced roasted sweet potato with the turkey
  • Use a rind of Gruyère in place of the smoked Parmesan and season with thyme and rosemary
  • Skip the animal products and use a touch more smoked paprika, for a hearty vegan soup

You can find the rest of the group’s posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers while creating some wonderful meals.


Spring Book Reviews – Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook

Amaranth Soup

I received a review copy of Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook from Robert Rose Inc. Nevertheless, all opinions in the following post are my own.

A diagnosis of celiac disease can seem like an imposition of broad limitations on one’s diet. And that used to be quite true, in the days when white rice flour was made to stand in for everything from bread flour to cake flour.

These days, though, there are so many great gluten-free alternatives available to people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Gluten-free grains and seeds like quinoa have become widely available, along with a wide range of flours. Ingredient lists are starting to shift, too. Where once wheat or barley might be used as a filler, now products like stocks, sauces, and spice-blends are eliminating them when not necessary, or other companies are jumping into the market with their own gluten-free varieties.

Bob’s Red Mill has been a reliable source of gluten-free products for years, dedicating separate production lines to many of their gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours to avoid cross-contamination. I’ve been a fan since my youth, when I was introduced to plenty of crunchy granola vegans and vegetarians. Potluck survival meant mastering veggie cuisine and Bob’s Red Mill provided many of the grains we used.

I’ve never been completely vegan or vegetarian, but eat that way much of the time, especially since my partner has committed to veganism. He’s also the member of the family with celiac disease, so alternatives to wheat, barley, and the rest of the gluten-rich grains are a big part of our daily meals.

I’ve become very familiar with gluten-free alternatives over the years. But like many of us, I’ve got quinoa down and could use a little help making the most of the rest. Amaranth? Teff? Sorghum? Millet? I’ve made a little use of these, but not often enough. Even familiar grains like oats or buckwheat become trickier when they are ground into flours.

So, I was excited to get my hands on a copy of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook. It’s full of whole-grain, gluten-free recipes, but just as importantly, it includes a primer with details on how to prepare and store gluten-free grains and flours, what their nutritional properties are, and what other healthful items belong in the gluten-free pantry.

The recipes themselves range from breakfast to dessert and travel across cuisines, many of which can become off-limits to gluten-free eaters. Amaranth Tabbouleh or Sorghum Minestrone satisfy cravings for old favourites, while naturally gluten-free dishes like Persian-Spiced Lentils and Millet make use of less familiar grains to delicious effect.

Many of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan, or easily adaptable, so there are plenty for me to choose from when eating with my partner. I’m especially looking forward to trying the recipe for vegan Nanaimo bars, as I noticed that one of the grocery stores nearby sells popped amaranth.

Today, though, I’ve got permission to share a recipe for a hearty, vibrant soup that reminds me of a pozole verde. It can be served with queso fresco, but we skipped that in favour of lime wedges and found it perfectly satisfying.

Tomatillo, Black Bean and Amaranth Soup

Makes about 6 servings

Equipment: Food Processor

2 cans (each 12 oz/340 mL) whole tomatillos, with juice
1 tbsp/15 mL olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp/5 mL chipotle chile powder
3/4 cup/175 mL amaranth
2 cans (each 14-19 oz/398-540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups/750 mL ready-to-use GF vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup/250 mL packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Crumbled queso fresco (optional)
2 tbsp/30 mL freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime wedges (optional)

  1. In food processor, purée tomatillos and their juice. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and chipotle powder; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomatillo purée; cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in amaranth, beans and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until amaranth is very tender. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve sprinkled with queso fresco (if using), with lime wedges on the side, if desired.

I predict this cookbook will have you stocking your pantry with more grains, seeds, and flours, whether or not you need to follow a gluten-free diet. Variety is the spice of life, but it’s also a good practice for health and a delicious one, at that.

Come back next Thursday for a review of a book that will help you make the most of each season’s bounty.

Spring Book Reviews – The Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers Cookbook

Tom Yum Soup

I received a review copy of The Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers Cookbook from Appetite by Random House Canada. Nevertheless, all opinions in the following post are my own.

It’s safe to say that soup season is a year-round phenomenon in Vancouver, even though we get long stretches of sunshine in the summer. There are gazpachos and chilled soups for hot weather, but there are also always rainclouds in our future, so stocking the freezer with comforting soups is a good practice.

One of the best ways to do that is to make a big batch of your favourite soup and then organize a soup swap with friends and neighbours. It’s a fun way to build community while providing one another with at least six meals’ worth of nourishing, delicious food.

(Inter)National Soup Swap Day is held in late January each year, but they provide great information and advice no matter what time of year you decide to hold your own swap. Next year will be the tenth anniversary, so I expect they will have even more recipes, stories, and advice to share.

Our co-op has been holding soup swaps for a number of years now. The regular participants enjoy it so much that we’re even talking about having them twice a year – once at harvest time and another in the coldest part of the year. One to celebrate late summer’s bounty and another to cheer us through winter’s last weeks.

Since I’ve been sharing soup with the same group of people over the years, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes that are delicious, reliable, and out of the ordinary. When I was given the opportunity to review The Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers Cookbook, I knew it was a book that I’d be making good use of for years to come.

The Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers Cookbook is full of flavourful soups borrowed from many cuisines and encompassing such a wide variety of ingredients that it could keep a soup swap group excited for years. The 114 soups are organized by season and the book includes stock recipes and advice on techniques and basics. The recipes come from the organization’s staff and volunteers, along with food writers, chefs, and even a sitting Mayor. Many of the recipes include stories about the soups, just as a soup swap gathering would.

But it’s more than a cookbook. It also tells the story of an organization that shares soup to help heal lives and to show support for people in crisis. The soups that Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers make together go to feed women and children who have suffered domestic abuse, or to youth exiting street life. It takes the concept of building community through sharing food beyond our personal networks and turns it into something that can be transformative.

It’s an inspiring thought. If you’d like to join them in their work, they have branches across Canada and even one in California.

In the meantime, they’ve been kind enough to let me share with you a soup for Spring, fragrant with lemongrass, galangal, makrut, and coconut milk. This Thai classic comes together quickly, but is richly flavoured. I made a vegan, gluten-free version for my partner, so traded fish sauce for a little gluten-free tamari and skipped the meat. I also used a vegan tom yum paste, versions of which are becoming more widely available now.

This soup was so good I wished I’d doubled the recipe. The only change I would make would be to add a dried chili pepper or two, for a little heat.

Tom Yum Soup

Sharon Hapton, Founder, Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers

Makes about 4 servings

4 cups (1 L) chicken or vegetable stock
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 thick slices fresh ginger
2 thick slices galangal (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, gently bashed with a rolling pin and cut into quarters crosswise
1 to 2 tsp (5 to 10 mL) tom yum paste
3 to 4 kaffir lime leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
20 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, or 1 lb (500 g) cubed or diced boneless, skinless chicken (optional)
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken
8 oz (250 g) cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 to 3 tsp (10 to 15 mL) fish sauce (according to taste)
1 lb (500 g) rice noodles, soaked in cold water for 2 hours then drained (optional)
Finely chopped cilantro for garnish

1. In a large pot, combine the stock, onions, carrots, shallot, ginger, galangal (if using), lemongrass, tom yum paste, lime leaves and garlic. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes for the flavors to develop.

3. Add the shrimp or chicken (if using). Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are no longer pink (about 3 minutes) or until the chicken is no longer pink inside (about 10 minutes).

4. Add the coconut milk. Bring the soup back to a simmer.

5. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Bring the soup back to a simmer.

6. Remove the ginger, galangal (if using) and lemongrass. Season with fish sauce to taste.

7. If using rice noodles, plunge them into a pot of boiling water to heat through, then drain well.

8. Divide the noodles among the soup bowls, then ladle the soup over the top. Garnish with a flourish of cilantro.

Come back next Thursday for a review of a book that will have you stocking your pantry with long-neglected ingredients.

FFWD – Côte d’Azur Cure-All Soup

  My mother’s homemade soup could cure anything but the schism between my sister and me when it came to what starch she should put in it. I loved rice in my soup and my sister preferred noodles. So, often the soup would have both. It would also have whatever needed using up in the refrigerator, along with stewed tomatoes to bring everything together. I loved to make it spicy with black pepper, a trick I learned from my grandfather. My mother couldn’t stand this habit, because she’d spent so much time balancing the flavours.

While her soup was simple in the sense that it was made with whatever was on hand, it was also complex. It developed slowly, simmering on the back of the stove, with many small additions being made along the way.

My adult life doesn’t include a chest freezer full of containers of soup ready to soothe me when I’m sick. Freezer space in my refrigerator is at a premium (I mean, who doesn’t need to keep the bowl of the ice cream maker ready at all times, just in case?), so a quick cure is a blessing.

A garlicky soup that’s ready in a little over thirty minutes seems like a promising alternative. So what if it’s also full of cheese and egg yolks, they’re there to fortify you. And you can add chicken stock if you like, which has proven curative clout. Anyway, I think food is best for existential ills and cheesy, eggy, garlicky goodness could jolt me out of even my most pessimistic mood.

I didn’t bother to purée my soup – I thought the thin slices of garlic looked quite pretty and they gave the soup an interesting texture. If I were serving it for company, I probably would purée it for presentation’s sake.

This soup took a long time to make it onto the French Fridays schedule, but I don’t think it will be long before I make it again. It’s simple, but it’s also rich and delicious – well worth using your best ingredients to make it shine. And the half recipe I made left me with three egg whites, so I made a Visitandine. Whatever the soup doesn’t cure, the cake surely will.

Try it for yourself – you can find Dorie’s recipe here.

And you can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Côte d’Azur Cure-All Soup.

FFWD – Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup & Chestnut-Pear Soup


A few weeks ago, red kuri squash arrived at my local food co-op, so I snapped two up right away. At the same time, I picked up some pears and some vacuum-packed chestnuts so that I could catch up on another fall soup.

I served the red kuri soup and the chestnut-pear soup together, in small bowls, as we did Christine’s Simple Party Soups. The two soups complemented each other well. I put a dollop of sour cream in each of the bowls, but these soups are lovely without any garnish at all, as well.

Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup

red kuri squash

I used one of the squash in this soup, cooking it down with the rest of the ingredients, and roasted the other. It’s in the freezer, waiting for an opportunity to make this soup again. I’m interested to see how the roasted version compares to the traditional soup.

I split the soup with my parents, who enjoyed it as much as I did. Kevin’s not a big squash fan, but he didn’t mind this soup at all. I’ll be making it again, while there’s still red kuri squash in the store, but I also want to try red kuri in dessert recipes. I have it on good authority that it makes a terrific variation on pumpkin.

You can find the recipe for this soup on Dorie’s website.

Chestnut-Pear Soup

I didn’t give half this soup away and it’s a good thing, because Kevin absolutely loved it. Usually, he’ll eat soup without much comment, but he raved about this one and happily helped me eat through a full recipe’s worth. He was happy that I’d made it vegan, using vegetable stock and replacing the butter with olive oil. The ingredients for this soup are available throughout the fall and winter, so we’ll be revisiting it often.

You can find the recipe for this soup here.

Find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup. Then, see how everyone fared with the Chestnut-Pear Soup.

FFWD – Christine’s Simple Party Soups

Party Soups

I think the best thing a young person can learn before they strike out on their own is how to make soup. Not just because you’ll always be able to feed yourself, even in the days when you might only have one pot to your name, but also because it’s a great way to learn how to balance flavours. Adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that until you get it right is the essence of soup-making and that knowledge will carry through when you move on to master more complicated recipes and techniques.

Some recipes, though, don’t give you the luxury of fixing your mistakes with another ingredient or two. They depend on the flavours developed by a minimum of ingredients in the correct proportion to one another. This week’s trio of soups fall into this category. They consist of stock (or water and bouillon cubes) and a single dominant vegetable, with a little salt and pepper to bring out the flavours. Red pepper, asparagus, and broccoli are the vegetables (though the latter two have a little zucchini in them, as well, which doesn’t seem to affect the dominant flavour of the soup). Additional seasoning is added only through the garnish, which is whipped cream with Piment d’Espelette, cardamom, and curry respectively.

I tried the soups plain and they definitely need the extra flavour boost from the cream and spices. I used Greek yogurt (and this time I checked the label), which worked just as well, I think.

These weren’t my favourite soups from this book, even with the yogurt and spices. I appreciated the intensity of the dominant flavour, but it didn’t make me want to sit down for a meal. Instead, I found myself wanting to freeze these in cubes, as I think they’d make a great flavour booster when my usual soups need a little something. So, I don’t think I’ll be making these again, but the leftovers may be showing up as guest stars in future soups. C’est la vie.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this FFWD recipe here: Christine’s Simple Party Soups