“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard
I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but lately I’m more likely to be adventurous in the kitchen. And because I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks that I like to flip through, rather than searching the internet for a specific dish, I’m going to try and review new vegetarian recipes that use a variety of flavors, techniques and ingredients. So here we go!
S.O.U.P.S.: Seattle’s Own Undeniably Perfect Soups
Michael Congdon, Sasquatch Books (2004)
The secret to surviving the cold, wet, dreary Seattle winters is soup. Lots of different kinds of soup. From Vietnamese pho, to ramen in the University District, and chowder that uses the abundance of delicious seafood from the ocean – soup is the reason that I have no problem weathering the rainy season here, year after year. So of course if there is a Seattle chef who published a cookbook of soups, I’m going to try it! Michael Condgon works at the Hopvine Pub on Capitol Hill, which gives him the freedom to play around with recipes and develop new ones. I have already tried the recipe for corn chowder with green chilies from this book, and it’s a smash hit every time I make it. So I decided to branch out a little and try something new.
On the introduction for vegetarian vindaloo, Michael notes that whenever he tests a new recipe at the Hopvine, he tries out both a carnivore and a vegetarian version to get a better idea of what customers think. So this cookbook also contains a lamb vindaloo that looks equally delicious, if that’s your thing. The recipes are organized into seasons, with the heartier soups naturally falling under the “winter” category.
Modifications, Testing and Recommendations: I’ve never attempted to make Indian food before, but this was surprisingly easy! The recipe recommended roasting the potatoes, eggplant and cauliflower in the over beforehand to “release the flavors,” which was definitely a good move. It also called for 10-20 Thai, serrano and jalapeno peppers, which seemed excessive, even for someone who isn’t a self-confessed spice wimp like me. I know Indian cuisine is supposed to be hot, but that’s HOT. I ended up only using 5 serranos, which turned out just fine – a good amount of heat but nothing that will melt your face. This recipe is nearly impossible without a food processor, so make sure you have one before starting to make the pepper, onion and curry paste.
Get the recipe here! It seems that the essential ingredients for most vindaloo dishes are the spices, onions and peppers, which leaves lots of room for interpretation or personal preferences. If you order this dish in a restaurant, it will be served with a side of rice or with naan flatbread.