Today, January 28 is TuB’Shevat. What better time to celebrate soup made with vegetables, herbs, spices, and grains from the earth. Accompany soup with a salad featuring fruit; add a cracker made from grain, and end with a sweet treat like dates or grapes. You now have a meal that is a slightly unorthodox tribute to TuB’shevat. And don’t forget a glass wine.
Traditionally, the following foods are eaten on TuB’Shevat: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. In addition, nuts -especially almonds- are included along with other fruits and vegetables mentioned in the Bible. See if you can find a mention of each of the seven species in this article.
The following recipes incorporate most of these ingredients. Be creative, Use date honey in a salad dressing, pomegranate seeds to top a salad, or barley to thicken a soup. Dessert could be oranges and grapes with fig Newtons to continue the theme.
If a recipe looks too complicated, divide it into tasks. Make sure everything is chopped and prepped before starting to cook. This could be the most important thing you can do to make cooking go smoothly.
The following soup is simple and versatile. It can be a complete meal or introduce a hearty dinner.
White Bean Soup Serves 6-8
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 stalks of celery, diced or sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, diced or sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon pink salt
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the beans, potatoes,carrots, parsley, salt, 6 cups of broth and 1 cup of water.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about an hour. If necessary, add more water and salt and pepper to taste.
NOTES: Store air-tight for up to a week. Add dill or for a spicy note, some harissa. Add cubed chicken breast the last 15-20 minutes , if desired.
Merrill Silver is known around Shomrei as a soup maven. Here’s one of her new favorites.
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup Serves 6
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped (or Yukon gold potatoes or cubed butternut squash)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
2 15.5 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can petite-cut tomatoes, no salt added
- In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add sweet potato, chili powder, cumin and paprika; cook another 2 minutes.
- Add broth, beans and tomatoes and bring to a broth.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes
NOTES: Add a little ginger, if desired. Squeeze some lime juice on top before serving.
Melissa Clark from the New York Times is a great resource for recipes for the modern home and busy cook. Her easy-going approach to cooking is great for modern families and is a boon in these days when we think twice before running out to the store for an ingredient. This soup is hearty and can be as thick or thin as the cook wants.
Lemony White Bean Soup with Turkey and Greens Serves 4
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 bunch sturdy greens, such as kale, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, collard greens, kale
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1/2 pound ground turkey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 quart chicken stock
2 -15 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped fresh, soft herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, basil, tarragon, chives a combination
Fresh lemon juice to taste
1.Heat a large pot over medium-high heat for a minute or two to warm it up. Add the oil and heat about 30 seconds. Add onion and carrot; sauce until very soft and brown at the edges, 7-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse greens and pull the leaves off the stems. Tear or chop into bite-size pieces.
- When the onion is golden, add tomato paste, cumin, pepper flakes and sauce until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add turkey, garlic, ginger and 1 teaspoon salt and sauce, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until turkey is browned in spots, 4-7 minutes.
- Add stock and beans and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until the soup is thick and flavorful. Add more salt if needed, 15-25 minutes. For a thicker broth, smash some of the beans with the back of a spoon. For a thinner, brothier soup, leave the beans whole.
- Add the greens and simmer until they are very soft, from 5 to 15 or 20 minutes depending on the greens. If the soup thickens too much, add a little water.
- Stir herbs and lemon juice . Add salt, cumin and lemon until the broth is bright tasting.
- Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and more pepper flakes, if desired.
NOTES: Of course, the turkey can be left out for a vegetarian soup. A little barley might be good in this soup.
My friend Vicki P. loves to make soup, especially vegetable soup. Cauliflower is plentiful and reasonably priced right now and healthy. Remember to chop everything before you start cooking.
Cauliflower Parsnip Soup Serves 6-8
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
2 medium parsnips, chopped
1 cauliflower sliced into florets and chunks
2 ribs celery. chopped
1 small bay leaf
1 large clove garlic, chopped
3/4 c. evaporated milk or cream (or non dairy milk like soy or almond for parve)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
pepper to taste
3 cups water
chopped parsley for garnish
- In a large soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil over low heat until the onion softens and turns golden, stirring occasionally.
- Add the potato, parsnips and celery. Sauté and stir for 5 minutes.
- Add cauliflower; stir and cook another five minutes. Stir in garlic, salt and pepper. Cover pot and steam over low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add water to cover vegetables by about 1 inch.
- Cover the pot and raise the heat to medium. Cook 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. Celery can remain crisp.
- Remove the pot from the heat. With an immersion blender, process the soup with until smooth.
- Add evaporated milk. Cook uncovered until the soup simmers, DO NOT ALLOW THE SOUP TO BOIL. Adjust seasoning.
- Cover the pot and let soup sit for about 5 minutes.
- Garnish as desired and serve.
NOTES: Herbamare seasoning is perfect for seasoning this soup. It’s a blend of salt, herbs and spices and is available at most stores and online. Croutons would be a good additional.
To accompany your soup try one of the following:
Cheese Straws Yields 22-24
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pasty-defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1.Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheet with parchment.
- Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board into a 10 x 12 rectangle. Brush with egg mixture.
3.Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup Parmesan. 1/2 cup Gruyere, 1/4 teaspoons thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper.
4.With a rolling pin, lightly press the seasonings into the pastry. With a floured knife or pizza wheel, cut each sheet crosswise into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and place on baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each strip and bake for another 2 minutes. Don’t overbake or the cheese will burn.
Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: Can be frozen.
Lastly, here is a unique cracker. It’s sweet and savory, a cross between a cookie and a cracker. Joan Nathan discovered it in Lyons, France.The taste grows on you
Olive Scourtins (Olive shortbread cookies) Makes 24
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 confectioner’s sugar (or a little less)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 c. cured black Picholine or Moroccan black olives , pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tsp. sea salt for garnish.
- Cream butter and sugar until soft and pale yellow. Add olive oil and mix well. Add flour and mix gently but thoroughly until dough is smooth. Add olives, fennel seed, and mix to incorporate.
- Remove dough to a lightly floured surface and mold into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter and 11 inches long. Wrap with waxed paper or parchment and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- With a very sharp knife, slice dough into 1/4 inch rounds and place them 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake until golden, 15-20 minutes until slightly brown. Cool.
NOTE: The dough can be frozen before baking and scouting sliced and baked on demand.
Watch carefully so that they don’t brown too much. These are also tasty with a bit of goat cheese or brie.