Amaranth & vegetable soup

 

amaranth-soup-2I’ve made this soup about three times over this autumn–winter period. It’s a lovely, hearty meal, thanks to the amaranth. Amaranth is not very commonly used these days but it has been around for centuries. I’m fascinated with it because for its tiny size, it packs a mighty punch — lots of nutrition and lots of taste — and is gluten-free.

Amaranth has slightly nutty and sweet taste, which I find delicious. But because the taste is quite strong — stronger than most commonly used grains — I mix it with other ingredients (like in this soup, I’ve used it with plenty of vegetables and stock). Same with the flour — I like to mix it with others when using it for baking.

Amaranth soaks quite a bit of water. One cup of grains will need about 3 cups of water and 30 minutes cooking time. When cooked the seeds become slightly opaque. It can be cooked like a porridge too, and popped like popcorn.

So where can you buy amaranth? You should be able to get from most health food stores and organic stores. You don’t want the puffed amaranth, though. If you have trouble finding it, just use some quinoa or brown rice instead, keeping in mind that brown rice will take longer to cook.

Recipe

Serves 4

  • 6 small dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 ½  tsp dried chilli flakes, or to taste
  • 1 small knob (20 g) ginger, peeled and minced (or finely grated)
  • 1 small knob (15 g) fresh turmeric, minced (or use ½ tsp dried turmeric)
  • 2 cups (250 g) sweet potato, diced into small cubes
  • ½ cup amaranth grains
  • 8 medium (150 g) mushrooms, diced
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 small bunch (180 g) Tuscan kale, finely shredded
  • pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • squeeze of lemon juice, to your taste

Optional ingredients

  • 1 tbsp tamari or shoyu
  • small bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in a cup of freshly boiled water and set aside for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, prep all the veggies as directed in the ingredients list.

Drain the shiitake mushrooms (but reserve the water), and remove the woody stems before finely dicing. Set aside mushrooms and mushroom water until needed.

In a large, heavy-based pot, heat the coconut oil and sauté the onions celery and chilli for a couple of minutes, then add the ginger and turmeric. Continue to sweat for a few more minutes, Then stir in the sweet potatoes, amaranth and fresh mushrooms.

Now, add your stock, mushroom water and shiitake mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. Next, pour in the coconut milk. You can also add some sea salt here. After about 10 minutes, add the kale and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Adjust seasoning to your liking (use tamari here if you’d like to). Turn off heat and add freshly squeezed lemon juice and fresh coriander (if using) before serving.

Variations

  • Another vegan variation — instead of fresh mushrooms, add 1 cup cooked chickpeas when adding the kale
  • Carnivore —500 g chicken breast, diced, when adding kale. Make sure it gets fully cooked. You can also use homemade chicken stock instead of vegetable stock and add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce at the end of cooking.
  • Different grain — you can use the same amount of quinoa instead. Just make sure you wash the quinoa thoroughly
  • Sweet potato — pumpkin
  • Tuscan kale — silverbeet (Swiss chard) or spinach

Spiced adzuki bean & pumpkin soup

spiced adzuki bean and pumpkin soupThe weather has flipped. And just like that, it’s autumn in Melbourne. I don’t need to look at a calendar to tell me that. Unlike this harsh change of season, however, winter will quietly make its way into autumn, blending the two into one — it usually does. Winter is very sneaky like that.

Now is about the time Melburnians will start to adorn themselves with layers upon layers of black — and fill their bellies with warm, comfort food so they can be heated from the inside out. While a curry or a casserole will certainly do that, you can’t beat the simplicity of a hearty, nourishing soup — especially after a long hard day’s work.  

Soups: thank you for making my winters (and autumns) bearable — just!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup adzuki beans, soaked overnight (or at least for 6 hours) and rinsed
  • 550 g pumpkin, when peeled, seeded & diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, and a little extra for roasting the pumpkin
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic gloves, crushed
  • 1 knob ginger (about the size on an Aussie 20c coin), finely grated
  • 1 large celery stick, finely diced
  • dried spices — 1 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tsp ground coriander seeds, pinch nutmeg powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 180C and line an oven tray with baking paper. Lightly coat diced pumpkin with olive oil and roast for 25–30 minutes until soft. Then remove from oven and set aside until needed.

While the pumpkin is roasting, you can start preparing the soup base. In a large, heavy-based pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and celery until the onions become translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, sautéing for a couple more minutes before adding in the spices. Keep stirring for another two minutes or so, then mix in the tomato paste. Let the tomato paste cook with the spices for a few minutes, then add in the adzuki beans and mix well.

To the next stage of the soup — pour in the stock together with the roast pumpkin and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then simmer over gentle heat for about 45 minutes or until the adzuki beans are cooked through.

Remove the bay leaves, and blend with a stick blender. Then season with sea salt and lemon juice, to your liking. Serve as is, or with some real yoghurt drizzled on top and some real bread.