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I ended up making soup for dinner again last night. It was a faux beef broth with carrots, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, seitan, and some leftover quinoa stirred in. Delicious and right on, since last night continued the (seemingly nationwide?) trend of being kinda… cold. I took a picture. It’s really not that exciting, so I decided to do an entry not just about what I ate (overwhelming theme of my Mo Fo) but about something I love to eat. Soup.

My father has some peculiar and specific ideas about food and weather, and he only wants to eat soup when it is raining or snowing outside. I am the complete opposite. I am so eager for fall and winter and the beginning of “soup weather” that I start making soup in late August, telling myself that it’s “almost fall.” For reference, the temperature in Charleston in August is regularly in the high 90s and occasionally pushes into the three-digit territory where the radio starts issuing warnings about keeping infants and old people inside. But still I sit in a tank top and underwear, pouring sweat, eating a bowl of soup because I feel that I just can’t wait any longer. Emerson famously said that the remedy for deformity is “first, Soul, and second, Soul, and evermore, Soul.” I think he made a spelling error, and those “L”s should be “P”s.

For your autumnal consumption, I present my list of top ten favorite soups.

10. Fresh Green Pea:  childhood experiences left me hating split pea soup. I can’t stand split peas in ANYTHING and I never use them, certainly not for soup. But I do like fresh or frozen green peas simmered until just cooked in a light broth and pureed into a bright green soup. My mother reports that pureed frozen peas were my favorite food as an infant. Make of that what you will.

09. Borscht: I like beets, but I can’t think of many uses for them beyond roasting, borscht, and pureeing them to make bright red biscuits. I use horseradish in my recipe, which gives it a pretty solid kick. I like eating it at room temperature or cold—especially cold and topped with piping hot chunks of potato. Don’t knock it until you try it.

08. Carrot Ginger:  well, narrow root vegetables and ginger, because when I make carrot-ginger soup I like to use both carrots and parsnips, left to sit overnight in rice vinegar with Thai chiles to get some tang and heat going. Add the ginger and this gets pretty eye-watering.

07. Pumpkin:  I love pumpkin, so I treat it very simply when I turn it into soup. Pumpkin, onions, salt, pepper, broth, and crushed red pepper. I don’t like dressing it with traditional pumpkin spices like nutmeg, clove, or cinnamon. I guess I don’t see the appeal of soup which tastes like pie.

06. Cauliflower and Leek:  I’m a fan of sneaking leeks into almost any soup, but this soup is for when I really want to taste them. It comes out very similar to a potato soup, but lighter and I don’t get the same “watery mashed potatoes” vibe. My bias against potato soup is showing.

05. Curried Squash:  acorn, butternut, long island… I’ll use any winter squash in this recipe. Squash, curry spices, coconut milk, and lime juice. I usually pair all soups with bread, but I like to pour this one over a bowl of rice.

04. Black Bean and Sweet Potato:  why do I feel like I never see black beans and sweet potatoes paired up? Maybe it’s because I’m in the South, where sweet potatoes tend to go into… well, sweets. But they’re so good with salty, savory black beans! I like to just cook them up with lime juice, cumin, ancho pepper, and eat them with rice or on tortillas, but in winter I add some extra liquid and suddenly they become soup. Which I then top with strips of tortillas.

03. Ramen: not the kind in a ten-cent package, although I do have a certain affection for that variety. Noodles in a hot, salty broth topped with whatever comes out of the vegetable crisper—leeks, peppers, scallions, chunks of steamed squash, green beans, baby corn, carrots, radishes, tofu. I have been eating ramen since I was a little tiny kid and it will never stop warming my heart.

02. Kale and White Bean:  I made this when Friendboy wasn’t feeling well back in September. I don’t usually add barley, I like to keep this soup pretty straightforward since I think there’s already a lot going on with the kale, beans, and Gimme Lean sausage. I let this one simmer for as long as I can stand it. I like my kale to be wilted into submission.

01. Tomato:  tomatoes, olive oil, salt, broth, sugar. We’re done here.

Go forth and soup thyselves!

I submit my dinner for your disapproval. If the Powers-That-Be had wanted me to “eat my colors,” they would have made golden beets, mushrooms, onions, quinoa, Russian fingerling potatoes, and balsamic vinegar more diverse in hue. The beets and potatoes were roasted with a little spray of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. The portobellos and onions were sauteed with balsamic vinegar, and I paired them up with quinoa cooked in veggie broth.

And here are some pictures from yesterday’s bagel-making.

Unboiled lumps of bagel dough whose holes are quickly closing up. I’ll get the hang of it eventually.


Boiling the bagels before baking. This was the step that I was most concerned about and it turned out to be the easiest part.

Tray of bagels fresh out of the oven. It may not look like it, but there are faintly detectable holes in all of them in real life.

And a close-up. I used a recipe that Isa Chandra Moskowitz included in her post on “food migration” on the Powell’s Books blog. These are really delicious. They are almost all gone. I’ve never been to New York so I don’t know anything about genuine NY bagels, but the bagels I get around here are extremely dense. These bagels were considerably lighter, with all kinds of holes and nooks in them for catching extra toppings (jam, Smart Balance, and PB have all tested well so far). I just wish I had a stand mixer with a dough hook–kneading bagel dough by hand is an extremely sticky process.

This morning, I had a dream that my mother was sitting on the edge of my bed shaking my arm and saying “It’s two o’clock! You missed the farmer’s market!” and I jumped up and said “Why did you let me keep sleeping?!”. We started talking about other things, I calmed down, and said “It’s okay, I wasn’t expecting you to wake me up, Mom. I mean, you don’t even live here. Wait. What are you doing in my apartment?” And then I woke up, and it was only 9:30 and I got ready to go to the market.


The signs for The Sprout, a raw vegan restaurant with a lunch stand at the farmer’s market. Yet again, I didn’t get anything, because I spent more money at the Owl’s Nest Plantation organic stand than I should have.


Heirloom squash and shadowy, mysterious bags of arugula at Rita’s Roots.




Produce at the Joseph Fields Farms stand:  pumpkins and gooseneck squash; okra; muscadine grapes; carnival bell peppers. Not everything at the Joseph Fields Farms stand is local, but everything is clearly labeled as to whether or not it’s locally grown.

Decorative gourds at another stand.

The first round of fall apples at Owl’s Nest Plantation.


And the money shot. Clockwise from the peppers:  yellow carnival bell peppers, sweet white onion, organic Russian banana fingerling potatoes, organic Winesap apples, organic flying saucer squash, organic portobello mushrooms, plums, tomatoes. In the center are organic golden beets. All local, but the apples are from the midstate (~100 miles away). You can see one of my reusable market bags in the corner. One nice thing about the Farmer’s Market is that, while there are plastic shopping bags available, most people I see come with their own reusable bags or market baskets.

I am a Russian studies minor, and a former officer of my college’s Russian club. As such, I have had considerable exposure to Russian cooking, including borscht, which is usually made with a meat broth. Since the only must-have ingredient in borscht is beets, it is incredibly easy to make vegan. Tonight I made it with organic local beets, onion, several cloves of organic garlic, two carrots, horseradish, broth, and paprika (which is a bit of a Hungarian touch, I think it’s not a traditional borscht ingredient). I also roasted some potatoes and turnips, which I ate as a topping on the soup.

Naked beets waiting to be diced up. I peel my beets before I cook them, I find it less messy and painful than trying to skin cooked beets. They ooze less when they’re raw.


My jar of horseradish and beet juice. I blame my Russian professor for my addiction to this stuff.


Beets, carrots, garlic, onion, and horseradish simmering away in broth.

Potatoes and turnips roasted in olive oil with kosher salt and crushed pepper. They may not look like much, but these are amazing. The exterior gets very crisp while the inside is so soft and tender that it practically melts when bitten into. I think this is due to high heat–I roast potatoes at 475 for half an hour.

Plated and ready to eat. I pureed the borscht and let it cool to room temperature, then topped it with the roasted potatoes and turnips.

I live one block from the Saturday farmer’s market. There are weekends (plenty of them) when I sleep until two in the afternoon and miss the whole thing completely, which is shameful. But this morning I was wide awake and I went down to take my pick of fresh, local fruits and veggies. I brought my camera (I even went back to my apartment to get it) and then discovered while standing in front of a stall full of adorable, bright flying saucer squash that I had LEFT MY MEMORY CARD IN MY LAPTOP. I was peevish, but oh well. I’ll be back next weekend, and until then there are pictures of this week’s haul.

All this for $23, all of it grown locally on small farms and co-ops. Clockwise from the lemonade: 
-fresh squeezed lemonade (no, really, they juice the lemons right there at the stall)
-heirloom “black” cherry tomatoes
-organic butternut squash
-red potatoes
-cucumber
-organic Japanese turnips with their greens attached
-organic portobello mushrooms (the most expensive item by weight at $8/lb, but it takes quite a few mushrooms to make a pound, so it’s not so bad)
-organic beets (for my borscht later this week, I’m excited!)
-green onions
-jumbo head of organic garlic
-red onion

The squash and the turnips came from Rita’s Roots, a “transitioning-to-organic” farm on nearby Wadmalaw Island. In addition to their stand at the Farmer’s Market, they also run spring and fall CSA programs. On the weekends when I do make it to the Market, I make a beeline for Rita’s (even before I get the OMFG delicious jumbo cup of lemonade). It’s always kind of a surprise–they seem to be pretty strictly seasonal, so I can’t necessarily count on seeing the same thing two weeks in a row, but there’s generally a selection of greens and root vegetables, although this week was very heavy on the squash. Rita Bachmann runs the stand and is always polite, helpful, and smiling.

There’s a raw vegan restaurant and juice bar in Charleston called The Sprout. It’s been around for a good two years, but this year they have a stand at the Farmer’s Market, serving up raw vegan lunches on the go. I didn’t get anything this week, but it was heartening to see them there (seriously, this is South Carolina we’re talking about) and I’ll probably be back for a smoothie or a sandwich next weekend. The menu board this week advertised mock tuna salad, cashew cheese, sunflower seed “burgers,” and raw pad thai in addition to six or eight different varieties of smoothies.

I am NOT usually up this early on a Saturday (it’s noon), but I feel surprisingly refreshed and ready to tackle my bread machine this afternoon.

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