Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Carrot soup with miso

Being single usually isn’t all that bad.  You can watch whatever programs you like; nobody hogs the remote, reprograms your car radio buttons, snores, eats the slice of cake you were saving for later, or requires you to go to really boring work parties because “I went to yours.”
But being sick when you’re single really sucks.  I know “sucks” is an inelegant way to put it, but “unpleasant” just doesn’t catch the depth of feeling.  It sucks, and there is no way around it.  One can’t arrange to have a suitably sympathetic boyfriend on call to insist that you sleep in, go to the drugstore when you’re so dizzy with flu you can’t see straight, or to make you soup. 
Soup, of course, is key.
Much as I like soup, when I’m sick, I want simple.  Sopa Azteca, tortilla soup, gumbo, etc. are all wonderful, but too complicated.  A good chicken soup is therapeutic, but it takes time to make, and I haven’t found a canned chicken soup I like. (Being a foodie can be hazardous.)  Campbell’s canned tomato soup (made with water, please) is almost perfect, but I didn’t have any on hand.
I could have gone to the store, but I was in that mid-level range of illness. The point where you’re mind says you should be up and doing, because lying in bed has become unutterably boring, but your body is just not cooperating. (Case in point, Sunday I got winded making the bed and had to sit down and rest afterwards.)
This soup was one I bookmarked because I’m trying to use up miso I bought for my Japanese cooking experiment*. And other than the miso, all the ingredients are things I usually have on hand, so no going to the grocery store and infecting the neighborhood.
True, this recipe does involve chopping 1 onion and 2 pounds of carrots, but you can do that sitting down.  I did.  Deb Perleman of Smitten Kitchen finishes this soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and and some scallions.  Oil makes me feel slightly nauseated at the moment, so I pureed a seeded ancho chili into it, because I like a soup with a bit of bite. The soup was both hot and sweet.  And all the beta carotene, vitamin C or whatever it is you get from all those carrots has got to be good for you.

Carrot soup with miso

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 regular or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated ginger, or more to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender, or all at once with an immersion blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso and a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste. ( I found the miso contained enough salt to make any extra salt unnecessary.)

This soup is a good basic. It's good plain, as a ginger carrot soup, or you can finish it with sesame oil and scallions, or red pepper flake. You can do what I did and puree a seeded chili into it. Coriander might be nice. 

*if you’ve been following the blog, you know the Japanese cooking experiment was over a year ago.  But I’ve found that miso, refrigerated in a sealed container, has a shelf life of approximately forever.

Monday, October 17, 2016

6 Days in Mexico City

Temple of the Sun - Teotihuacan
I got halfway up. The people who built this (nobody's really sure who) had really good legs.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Mexico City for a week. This is not the relaxed Mexico of white-sand beaches and tequila and all-inclusive resort hotels.  It’s more like New York than Miami.

Mexico City is big.  I read the guidebook and knew (intellectually) that Mexico City was a sprawling urban area of 22 million people, but the sheer size does not really register until you see it. It’s huge.  And the locals seem to like building big as well. If they can make something taller, wider, grander, more monumental, they do it.
Palacio de Bellas Artes - Pure Beaux Arts on the outside, pure Art Deco on the inside

A lot of Mexican architecture seems to intentionally dwarf its inhabitants. It’s impressive, not particularly friendly, but very impressive.
University of Mexico
Of course, I didn’t get to see the whole town. Who could see this place in only a week? It would take a month just to get your bearings.  My paltry 6 days barely scratched the surface; all I have is a quick impression. 
Painted storefront - Avenue of the 20th of November
Mexico City is a fascinating, culturally diverse, intriguing, and totally overwhelming destination.  I learned about pre-Columbian food, Aztec theology, the Virgin of the Guadalupe, earthquakes and subsidence (erecting monumental stone buildings on swampy ground is not a good idea).
Aztec goddess in the Archeological Museum - This carving is about twice the size of my car.

I came back impressed and exhausted.  I also caught a cold that flattened me for a week when I got home. 

The main cathedral in the Centro Historico. The altar is solid onyx.
Michael Jackson Day of the Dead figurine
Answered prayers

Mariachis in Xochimilco

Temple of the Sun - Teotihuacan 
When I took this picture, I had agreed to climb the pyramid, and was beginning to think I had lost my mind.