There was a storm here over the weekend — rumbles of thunder and thick, gray skies, a soaking wet garden in the morning. It’s cooled down a little too, and all I want now is soft and cozy food. You know, stews packed with beans and greens, dumplings and noodles in hot broths, all kinds of mellow vegetable soups and long, wine-scented braises that I can leave simmering while I work.
I’m thinking about dishes like Eric Kim’s super creamy broccoli soup, which gets its savory notes from coconut water and its creaminess from silken tofu (leave out the ricotta garnish, and it’s vegan). Or the hefty but vegetarian red borscht from David Tanis, with lots of chopped dill on top, sparkling with vinegar, lemon juice and horseradish. If you want to make this one vegan, skip that sour cream garnish, or replace it with a dairy-free sour cream that melts into the bowl and adds another layer of texture and tang.
If you like the idea of potato and cauliflower soup, but you want to make something more special with a couple of heads of cauliflower, take a look at the chef Amanda Cohen’s recipe for charred cauliflower stew, which involves potatoes, parsnips and celery, too. Broiling a head of cauliflower to get some good color on it before puréeing seriously deepens the flavor of the dish. And soaking some raw florets in salt and lemon juice for the topping lands you with plenty of acidity and crunch.
All I want is to put the rice cooker on and tuck a simple, one-pot meal like Kay Chun’s delicious soy-braised vegetable jjim into the oven. She calls for radishes, squash, mushrooms and carrots, though you can play with the ingredients and their ratios, depending on what’s around. Consider firm tofu, turnips, potatoes, pumpkins and greens, as long as everything’s cooked until it’s nice and tender. Have it with a little kimchi.
One More Thing
I was fascinated by Bettina Makalintal’s recent story for Eater about how she and so many others are getting rid of their Instant Pot. If I’m being totally honest, it became a single-use machine for me years ago — to cook beans — and I can’t even remember the last time I used it for that.
I never folded it into my daily routine because I like a kitchen that smells and sounds of cooking. I like to constantly assess, prod and taste what I’m working on. But kitchen appliances are a matter of personal choice! I love my immersion blender, and even the dinky, mini food processor that goes with it. And I couldn’t live without my enormous stone mortar and pestle, which has a prime spot reserved on my kitchen counter, even though it might seem like a waste of space to another cook.