Just now, after writing this whole thing, I realized that I have already posted a great recipe for Potent Potato Soup with Cruciferous Greens. It must be a New Year’s thing, because it was almost exactly one year ago, on January 8, 2016! The recipe in the post below, however, is different than that one (this one has more greens, less potatoes, etc). Both delicious. To make up for the duplication I have have separately posted the recipe for Makki ki Roti! I hope you enjoy all your adventures in the kitchen! Here’s to a Peaceful and Positively Fantastic New Year!
New Year’s Eve 2016, Bakersfield was being drenched with a very welcome storm (garden so happy!) and I-5, the main route from here to Los Angeles, was closed down because of ice and snow from Grapevine to Castaic. That iced my plans to go down to L.A. to join friends for Guru Singh’s yoga class and special meditation to bring in 2017. So, what to do?
Make soup, of course! Not just any soup, mind you, but something invigorating, healing, satisfying, and spicy that would help knock out the remainder of my sniffles and give me a little kick right into the New Year. I had just the right ingredients on hand: some baby red potatoes, Chinese broccoli, onions, garlic, fresh ginger, cilantro, and a cabinet full of herbs and spices.
In a few minutes my chopping knife had made quick work of the onions and they were sizzling in ghee at the bottom of a soup kettle. Then came a 3-4 inches of fresh ginger and a bulb of garlic. Peeled and finely chopped, I added them to the now browning onions. This is the first step of making an onion masala, the base of so many Indian vegetable dishes.
Once that is all getting golden brown and done, it’s time to add the spices that require oil and heat in order to release their full flavor and make their healing essences bioavailable. I pushed the onion mixture to the sides of the pot so there was a little hot oil right in the center at the bottom. Into that I added turmeric, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds (the black seeds, not the pods), red chiles, and ajwain. I let these sizzle for a minute and then added a little water, just so it could all cook together and get really well done. Potent Potato Soup contains all of the Yogi Tea spices (ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, peppercorns). Lacking ground cloves and not having the patience to use my pepper mill, I popped some whole cloves and peppercorns into the spice/coffee grinder and whizzed them for a minute. This mixture, along with powdered cinnamon, was next in the pot. I added a few whole cloves and whole peppercorns just for good measure (I love the occasional surprise flavor bursts whole spices provide).
Next came pure water, filling the pot almost half way. As the water was heating up I started to prep the other ingredients… scrubbing my potatoes (leave those peels on!) and cutting into bite-size chunks, chopping celery, a few carrots (for a little sweetness and color), and about 1-1/2 or 2 pounds of Chinese broccoli (you could use rapini, mustard greens, or any other flavorful leafy greens). Once the water came to a boil I started adding the veggies as they were prepped.
Looking out the window to my backyard I noted the rain coming down. It had started as a sprinkle in the early morn, turned into a constant drizzle, and now in the late afternoon was a steady and friendly downpour (and in the nearby mountains down south, it was a blizzard!). I considered my baby winter veggies sprouting out in the garden (the beds are covered because a couple of feral cats seem to think they are litter boxes) and wondered if the rain would batter them down or not.
With the last of the soup vegetables in the pot I lowered the heat so it could simmer on the stove until everything was done. In the meantime I chopped some cilantro for garnish, cleaned up, and took my veggie scraps out to the compost pile. Taking a peek into the raised beds I was delighted to see my hardy sprouts doing just fine. It was about then I remembered I had two makki ki rotis (corn flatbread/chapati) in the fridge from yesterday. Makki ki Roti crisped up would make fantastic crackers for my soup! They were already cooked with ghee, so no more oil needed. I toasted one up in a fry pan over high flame and cut it up into wedges. Perfect!
Even when eating alone, it is always wonderful to sit down and enjoy a graceful meal: set the table, use pretty dishes, feel grateful, and savor every bite (or spoonful). I stirred a little chopped cilantro into my serving and topped it with the roti wedges. So delightful. Mmmm!
Meal enjoyed, sinuses clear, energy boosted, I contemplated the moment: sitting in my cozy home, well fed, feeling great, and quite full with gratitude for all the blessings in this life. It is such a gift, every part of life, all the relationships, ups, downs, ins, outs, flavors and adventures. Unable to attend the meditation with friends in L.A., I nestled in my own meditation space, breathed, chanted, prayed, and projected peace. Thank you God for everything.
Potent Potato Soup with Greens
Yield: about 8 servings
Unless I’m baking (and sometimes even then) I never measure anything. Feel free to increase/decrease seasonings as you wish.
1/2 cup ghee, coconut oil, or other oil
2-3 onions, chopped (in dice or short strips)
1/2 cup (or more) finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
1 bulb garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons crushed red chilies or 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon ajwain seeds
1-2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (decorticated cardamom)
1/2 teaspoon clove powder (or grind 6-8 whole cloves)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder (or add 2 whole cinnamon sticks to pot)
7-8 cups water
1 lb. red rose potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite size chunks
3 carrots, scrubbed and sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
4-5 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 bunches greens (Chinese broccoli, rapini, mustard greens, collards, or kale)
Cilantro (for garnish)
2 tsp. salt
Braggs or tamari soy sauce to taste
Place heavy bottomed soup pot (at least 6-quart size) on burner and add ghee/oil. Turn heat to high When hot, add chopped onions. Fry onions, stirring occasionally/as needed, until they are turning golden brown. Meanwhile, peel and chop the ginger and garlic. When the onions are getting a little browned, add the ginger and garlic. Turn heat to medium high and let sizzle for a minute.
Push onion mixture to the sides of the pot so there is empty space in middle. If necessary add a teaspoon or two of ghee/oil to the center of the pan. Add turmeric, red chilies, ajwain, cumin seeds, and cardamom seeds. Sizzle in the oil for about 1 minute, and then stir to mix with the other ingredients, still on medium high. Add 1/2 cup water to assist in further cooking without scorching. Add clove powder, pepper and cinnamon and stir. Add water. Turn heat to high until water comes to boiling point.
Meanwhile prep potatoes, carrots, and celery and add to the pot. Plunge greens into a sink full of cold water and rinse thoroughly. Drain in colander. Chop greens. For broad leaved greens (such as collards) stack the leaves and roll up crosswise, then slice lengthwise a few times, then chop crosswise. Add greens to pot.
Let all simmer for about 20 minutes. For a brother soup, add water as desired. Adjust seasoning/salt with Braggs or tamari. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish each serving with a tablespoon of chopped cilantro. Enjoy with cornbread or Makki ki Roti wedges.