Sunday, October 31, 2010

Raku: Halloween Soup

Menu: Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup (+ Mizuna Salad + Bread, Cheese, & Dried Sausage)

On Sunday morning I went to the farmer's market. I was immediately attracted to these awkward-looking carrots that looked like hotdogs. They seemed auspicious.

Also at the market, we picked up some mizuna (my green-of-choice these days), onions, sweet potatoes, bread (horrifyingly, $8/boule), and some wine (a Long Island merlot inaptly named Borghese - the taste was closer to the Sopranos than Italian nobility). Then it was on to Esposito's Pork Store for thick-cut bacon and sausage, and finally the supermarket for the rest of the ingredients.

Back home, I was forced to dwell for long minutes on the beauty of bacon. Is there anything more gorgeous?

Thankfully, I was only making one dish this time, so the recipe seemed blissfully straightforward to me. Oh, except for the sweet potatoes. They were an experience. Here is an analogy pair that describes my interaction with them:

sweet potatoes : chop
the savage detectives : enjoy

I almost broke my wrist once and chopped off a thumb and an index finger. Why do they look like regular potatoes on the outside but feel like titanium on the inside? I finally coaxed (ravaged, crushed) them into cubed submission and was able to get on with my life.

I think there are few things more satisfying to make than soup. Throwing meat, vegetable, and spice into a pot and mixing them around fulfills some ideal of cooking that I (and probably many others) have from when I was young, triggering a warm, "this is what cooking is" reaction. This particular soup was very Halloween-y with its festive curry spice and orange potatoes. Maybe it would have been even more so if I had lost a finger.

The soup tasted really good, and, as with many soups and stews, the flavor deepened overnight. I would like to cook it again. And I will need to because one lesson I learned is that it is very, very important to wash your lentils before adding them to, well, anything. Shamefully, I did not do this. We ate the first batch without incident, but the next day, there were some crunchy, sandy bites, probably from the bottom of the pot, that were decidedly disconcerting. Rookie move? Maybe. But as long as I don't mess up next time, I think I can probably say: Fool me once, lentil and sweet potato soup, shame on you...

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