Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Easy Soups and Stews!

It has been unusually cold in San Francisco this winter (stupid climate change!), so I’ve been turning to simple but flavorful soups and stews to keep me warm. One easy way to create a soup or stew is to start with a mirepoix! Mirepoix is just a 2:1:1 ratio of onions to carrots to celery. Sauté this with olive oil and garlic and maybe some chili peppers and you’re set for several kinds of soup.

For my first soup I added faux chicken broth, parsnips, and white beans to the mirepoix. Then I seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs de provence with a spash of soy milk to create a creamy stew. This second soup is my very own special feel better chickeny (That means mock chicken in lush speak) soup! I started with a mirepoix, added faux chicken broth, White Wave seitan sautéed with some Earth Balance and Braggs, chopped up kale and spelt pasta. This was seasoned with Bay Leaves, Thyme, fresh parsley and salt and pepper. This last soup didn’t start with a mirepoix, just onions and garlic. The recipe is from the PPK, and includes instructions on making your own chili powder. One tip, we found that using a mortar and pestle is better than a food processor for this. It has an intense and spicey flavor, but is so simple to make. The pineapple garnish makes a huge difference, and the lime adds a nice splash of flavor.

Pairings: Each of these soups has its own unique character, so my suggested pairings are quite diverse. The parsnips have a very light and pleasant sweetness that would do nicely with a slight bit of residual sugar. A very lightly sweet Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling would go well with this soup. For the chickeny soup, I would also go for a white wine. The delicate broth couldn’t stand up to a red. For this, you could go with a light-bodied Chardonnay that doesn’t have too much oak or perhaps a Rhône white like Viognier, or a Rhône white blend. For the lentil soup, I would go with an earthy red to match the savory bean flavors. Try a Napa or Sonoma Merlot with a couple years of aging, nothing too young and fruity. The combination of hot and spicy stew with a nice glass of wine is a great way to ward off winter chills.