Soups: 3 posts

Soup, consomme and other broth recipes

Tasting Spring : Green Borscht (Ukrainian Sorrel Soup)

Spring smells like the musky sweetness of wet soil, the green tartness of young maple leaves, the bitterness of apricot blossoms and the mineral sharpness of rain on my lips. But spring also has a likewise exhilarating taste—the delicate sweetness of sugar snap peas, the metallic pungency of ramps, the milky perfume of strawberries and the floral tartness of rhubarb.  Tart and green is the dominant flavor of spring, and when I see the long blades of sorrel at the market stalls, I know that spring is here at last. I can’t wait to pop a leaf in my mouth and taste its mouth puckering, lemony acidity.

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Lentil Soup with Coriander, Cumin and Peanuts Recipe

Lentil soup and star fruit salad

The flavors of Gujarati cuisine made a strong impression on me during my first visit. Until I started exploring the Western region of India, which consists of the states of Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra, I had no idea what to expect. I suspected that the flavors would be very different from the Northern Indian fare one commonly finds in restaurants abroad, but I was unprepared for the diversity of tastes I was to encounter. It all started with a simple dish of dal, lentil soup, which is commonly served with rice towards the end of the meal. It looked unassuming—pale orange with green flecks of cilantro and black mustard seeds, but its sweet and tart flavors, with a delicate touch of toasted coriander and cumin, won me over immediately. It was simple, and yet elegant and memorable.

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Lagman Uzbek Lamb and Noodle Soup Recipe

When cumin hits hot oil, the scent that rises up is complex and rich. It hovers above the sizzling pan as a warm cloud, woody, crisp, with sweet clove and leather undertones. Cumin has a natural affinity for meat, cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, and acidic vegetable-fruit like eggplant and tomato. It enhances their flavors, while retaining its own unique character. One of the ways to experience cumin’s nuances is try Central Asian food.

Lagman

One of my favorites is lagman, a lamb and vegetable noodle dish. Its one of several signature Uzbek dishes, along with plov (lavish rice and lamb pilaf,) samsa (tandoor baked savory pastries,) manty (steamed dumplings,) and kebabs. Its origins lie further east, however. Brought to Central Asia by the Uyghurs, Chinese speaking Muslims, this dish shares many similarities with East Asian noodle soups. Yet, the spice and herb combination makes it unique.

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