Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Seattle Souper Swap

It felt great to be back in the soupmaking saddle, as well as catch up with old swappers and meet new ones. That's me in the pink shirt sitting at the back window. See the paper bag? The one with the "FREE BREAD WITH EVERY QUART OF PINTO BEAN WITH MINT & PINE NUTS SOUP!" sign? Well, I'm not bragging but, okay, yes I am. My soup was the first to be picked and the first to run out! Using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method, I baked 8 boules earlier that day. The bread came out looking like I slaved for days -- only my friend Knox (the founder of Soup Swap and the one pointing at the screen in the photo) knew how easy it really was. I love the Soup Swap -- it's about homemade food, local folks, lots of creativity and now, a little bit of snake oil showmanship. I guess I'll have to work on my Vince Offer impersonation for the next swap. Read more about the Seattle Soup Swap at, Nerd's Eye View, and Beastmomma.

Here's the recipe I used for this year's soup:

Pinto Bean Soup with Mint & Pine Nuts
adapted from a recipe by Deborah Madison, Prodigy Guest Chefs Cookbook

32 oz. dried pinto beans
16 oz. dried lentils*
2 T vegetable or light olive oil
2 small onions, minced
1 T New Mexico ground red chile
8 c. vegetable broth*
10 c. water
2 c. soy creamer**
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/3 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. chopped scallions or chives
3 T. or more chopped mint*
1/3 c. pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 can pinto beans*
2 cans garbanzo beans*

*Not in original recipe
**Half-and-half originally specified
  1. Soak the dried pinto beans overnight; drain and rinse.
  2. Transfer the beans to a pot, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse.
  3. Heat the oil in a large soup pot and sauté the onion and chile together briefly.
  4. Add the beans, lentils, vegetable broth and water to the onion mixture. Bring to a boil, then simmer until beans are tender, about 40 minutes. Skim bean scum off as needed.
  5. Season to taste with salt. Add more chile if desired. Continue cooking until beans are completely soft.
  6. Purée half the beans with some cooking liquid in a blender. Stir the purée and creamer into the pot.
  7. Drain and rinse the canned pinto and garbanzo beans before adding to the pot.
  8. Stir in chopped herbs and pine nuts, reserving some for garnish if desired.
Yield: about 10 quarts of soup

Note: Response from Deborah Madison about the missing mint (1/29/08): This recipe comes from my book, The Savory Way (now out of print) and was titled Pinto Bean Soup with Mexican Cream and Pine Nuts. I interpreted it from a pueblo "recipe" and as such, it would probably be made with apple mint, but regular mint from the store (peppermint, not speamint) is fine as well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The religion of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

My friends, need I say more to get you non-believers on the path? Just get the good book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois, and it will change your life. I can get home from work and have a hot, freshly baked loaf on the table in about an hour and a half. Folks, I did discover one drawback, though. This method takes away all the "fun" and guesswork I used to have trying to make artisan breads: wildly inconsistent starters, risings, timings, results, etc. Now -- sigh, ho hum -- my breads almost always have perfect crust, crumb and flavor. Watch the authors and see how easy it is to impress yourself, family and friends. Say Hallelujah!

Basic Boule (makes about eight 1-lb. loaves)
by “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”

1450 g lukewarm water (6 cups)
3 tbsp regular yeast
3 tbsp salt
1850-1900 g unbleached AP flour (13 cups)
can substitute up to 250 g with whole wheat or rye flour

Measure out the water into your bread bucket. Sprinkle in the yeast and salt and stir to dissolve. Add the flour and stir with a stiff spoon and/or wet hands until all the flour is incorporated. The dough may be slack and a little lumpy. Cover or close the bucket loosely and let sit on the counter for about 2 hours, then keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake, place a piece of parchment on your peel and dust it with cornmeal. Using a bread knife, cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough from the bucket. Place on a floured surface and "round" or "cloak" the dough by gently pulling the outside of the dough into a smooth, firm ball (about 2 minutes or less). Place the boule on the parchment smooth side up and let rest for 40-90 min. 30 min. before baking,
preheat the oven (containing a baking tile on one shelf and a broiler pan on another) @ 450°F. Dust the boule with flour and use a greased bread knife or santoku to slash the top (x, +, or tic-tac-toe design) 1/4"-1/2" deep. Get a cup of hot tap water ready. Open the oven, slide the parchment and dough gently onto the tile, carefully pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and close the door quickly. After 15 min. you may remove the parchment if desired. Allow the loaf to bake until deep golden brown, about 35-55 min. Use your peel to remove the boule from the oven and put on a rack to cool completely. TIPS: Bread made from week-old refrigerated dough tastes best! No need to wash the bucket, scrape the sourdough bits into your new batch! For more tips and errata, go to

Monday, January 19, 2009

National Soup Swap Day is coming!

Don't forget that Saturday, January 24th, is the third NATIONAL SOUP SWAP DAY. Make up six quart containers of your favorite soup, freeze 'em, bring 'em to your local soup swap event, and come home with six quarts of soup other swappers have made. Easy and delicious. Go to the SoupSwap website and see if there's an event happening near you. If not, vow to organize one. And you can do it anytime! I'm so proud to say a friend started the soup swap a few years ago right here in Seattle, and now it's gone nationwide. It's Soups Gone Wild! This year I made a soup based on a recipe attributed to Deborah Madison, called Pinto Bean Soup with Mint and Pine Nuts. It's funny but, wherever this recipe appears on the internet, the ingredient "Mint" is missing! So I improvised the quantity of mint and added some other things. It's pretty damn good for a vegan soup if I may say so, especially with a freshly baked mini boule... which, BTW, I am totally crazed on baking by using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method. Get the book, a bucket with a lid, some baking tiles and a peel and you're in business! I usually substitute some whole grain in the Basic Boule recipe and the bread is awesome to look at and to eat. I also just used the ABIFMAD method for mom's double super secret Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe and it worked splendidly for a pan of cinnamon rolls. I will try to take pictures next time before Jim's carb sonar (carb-nar?) kicks in.

Tomorrow's the big day!

I am so ready to have new people in charge.

My short "HONEY-DO" LIST for Barack:
  • Fix the economy
  • Kill all the insurers, then build a healthcare system
  • Stop warring
  • Give or create jobs for people who want to help -- do-gooders are wanted and needed
  • Throw away the key for anyone who tried to redefine torture and allowed it to happen
  • Take all those fat cats who received and squandered bailout money out and shoot them
  • Get the puppy already!
Celebrate Inauguration Day as you see fit!