Sunday, January 30, 2011


Buried under mountains of snow these last few weeks has not been easy. The simplest tasks have become very complicated as I try to navigate the deep paths in my Queens, NY neighborhood, carved out at least knee-high in most places!
The entire neighborhood has to walk single file!
Wonder what is buried under there? These snow piles are as high as a bus! My neighbor claims her garbage from Christmas is still deep inside. Spring will be such a lovely mess. On top of it all I have been dealing with a wicked cold that has kept me weak and shivering.
 To help manage my cold symptoms these tangerines got juiced. So yummy! Too bad all of these squeezed barely yielded a cup of liquid. geesh!

In the mood for some sustenance I decided to make a hearty soup featuring the whole grain quinoa. My idea was to feature its nutty flavor with the added help of some meaty red kidney beans.
I built the soup up starting with sweating some aromatic vegetables. The quinoa gets rinsed and then toasted with the vegetables to emphasize the flavor of the grain. Vegetable stock and crushed tomatoes are used for the liquid. I wanted the seasoning to be rich but not over-powering. I added a fair amount of paprika for depth, a bay leaf for a pine-y fragrance, a pinch of chipotle chili powder for a little smoky-ness and some thyme for a woodsy note. The soup simmers for about half an hour. At the end I added some green beans and spinach for a burst of color and freshness.

As a condiment for the soup I decided to make a red pepper and shallot puree.
Roast the vegetables till tender and puree in a food processor. So simple and so good!
The soup came out great. Just what I was looking for to bring some comfort and strength on a cold snowy winter day. The broth had a deep earthy flavor and the red pepper puree was a sweet bright addition to round this dish out.
Stay warm!

Quinoa and Red Bean Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Puree
 The aromatics:
2 Tbs. Olive oil
1 onion minced
S & P to taste
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Carrot chopped
3/4 cup quinoa rinced 
the spices:
 1 bay leaf
 2 Tbs. Paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon Chipoltle Chili powder

1 small potato cubed
1 15oz can red kidney beans
the liquids:
1 quart vegetable stock
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
the green vegetables:
1/2 cup green beans cut into bite sized pieces (substitute broccoli, zucchini)
1/2 cup cooked spinach (substitute chard, kale, any leafy green)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
In a soup pot heat the olive oil, add the onions and a little salt and pepper. Sweat the onions at a low temperature until they soften a bit. Add the garlic and the carrot and continue to sweat the vegetables for 5 or 6 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the quinoa, stirring frequently till the quinoa begins to get a little bit golden in color, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, the potato, the kidney beans and the liquids and bring to a boil. Lower the heat top a simmer and allow the soup to cook for 30 minutes.
Add the green vegetables and the lemon juice and simmer for 5 more minutes till vegetables are tender. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Serve with the red pepper puree.

Roasted Red Pepper, Shallot and Jalapeno Puree
-This very versatile puree will keep in the fridge for a week. Serve with soups, stews, roasts, or on toast!
1 red pepper
3 jalapenos 
1 shallot, peeled
1 Tbs. Olive oil
2 teaspoons water
pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the red pepper into strips and lay on a baking sheet with the jalapenos, left whole and the shallot, cut in half. Toss with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and bake for 20 minutes till tender. Allow to cool, then transfer to a food processor and while the machine is running add 1 Tbs. olive oil and the 2 teaspoons water to create a smooth paste. Salt and pepper to taste.
I think if it didn't snow another day all winter, there would still be snow on my lawn till May. My lawn is small, and the snow which has amassed there from shovelling my sidewalk, walkway and driveway is about up to my shoulders now. My kids of course love it. Me, not so much. To them it is the equivalent of having Mt. Everest right outside our window. It provides endless hours of adventure for them. So, for that, I can deal with it...
What I love about Deb's recipes is that they inspire me to think "outside the box". I love to cook quinoa - I have used it in veggie burgers, cold summertime quinoa "salads", and warm wintertime dishes. However, I can honestly say it never occurred to me to use it in a soup. I'm not quite sure why. The soup looks scrumptious, and is so wonderfully healthy!Gotta love that!
I love the flavor profile Deb describes with all the smoky, earthy flavors! A rustic wine would be my choice with this soup, something from France perhaps. A wine we featured at the shop this week immediately jumps to mind. It is a Cotes du Rhone from Jean Luc Colombo - Les Abeilles 2007. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, it combines flavors of berries, spice, licorice with a hint of leather. It's very food-friendly (and wallet friendly at $9.99).
A wine from Corbieres, in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France is another great match for Deb's recipe. Chateau de Vaugelas Corbieres Le Prieure is a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. Velvety and fleshy on the palate, the wine exhibits beautiful chocolate notes as well as licorice, dark fruit and spice. The Vaugelas is $11.99.
Both of these wines are great bargains from the south of France. A bowl of Deb's soup enjoyed with a glass of either wine or something similar, would certainly warm up any cold winter's night!

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