Old New World: Southwest squash blossom soup with blue corn dumplings

squash blossom soup with blue corn dumplings

One of the things I love about living in Oakland is that moment in summer when all the farms at the farmers markets have a ridiculous amount of squash blossoms and the price has gone down from a dollar for a single blossom to a dollar for a giant bunch of ten or fifteen.  Squash is a New World crop and figures in prominently in a lot of pre-colonial food in the Americas, so the timing couldn't be more fortuitous.

squash blossoms

Southwest squash blossom soup

makes 6 servings 

  • 60 squash blossoms, washed and stamens removed if male
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped spring or yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth

Heat the sunflower oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low, add salt, pepper and squash blossoms. Sauté 3 minutes, stirring, then add the 6 cups vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve hot, topped with blue corn dumplings.

blue corn dumplings

makes about 8

  • 1 cup blue cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups vegetable broth

Sift the blue cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar together in bowl. Add the oil and 3/4 cup water and mix well to make a stiff but moist batter, adding more cornmeal if necessary. Let rest 10 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, boil the 3 cups vegetable broth in a pot and reduce to a simmer.  After the dough has rested, make the dumplings using two spoons to make an almond shape, dropping each dumpling after forming into the simmering broth and cover the pot. Simmer for 4 minutes and remove from broth.

 

 blue corn dumplings fished from the vegetable broth

 notes

Simmering the blue corn dumplings in a separate pot ensures that should your dumplings explode into a mass of wet cornmeal, your squash soup will still be lovely.

Don't boil the vegetable broth for the dumplings too wildly, otherwise they will not form solid dumplings.

If the idea of eating whole cooked squash blossoms is a little overwhelming, slice them into strips lengthwise before adding to the pot. 

Recipes adapted from Native American Cooking: Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations by Lois Ellen Frank. 

too steamy to photograph very well, but quite tasty 

Old New World: Pueblo Anasazi bean and hominy soup with green chile sauce

  soaked Anasazi beans

soaked Anasazi beans

Anasazi beans are sort of the Lazarus taxa of the bean world! They are also known as  Anasazi Cave Beans, Pole Beans, Aztec Beans, New Mexico Cave Beans, and Appaloosas. According to Ken Albala in Beans: A History the story is that they were rediscovered as early as the 1950's and as late as the 1980's by a team of UCLA archaeologists in a clay pot sealed with pine tar near the Mesa Verde cliff-dwellings. They carbon-dated to about 500 BCE - and they sprouted! All Anasazi beans in the current marketplace can be traced back to this one clay pot. Here, the beans are paired with hominy in a soup that is still commonly made in one form or another throughout the southwest.

  soaked hominy

soaked hominy

Pueblo Anasazi bean and hominy soup

makes 4 servings

  • 2 cups dried Anasazi beans, soaked overnight
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups dried hominy, soaked overnight
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP dried powdered chile

Drain the Anasazi beans, place in a large pot and add 4 cups of the water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour, stirring often and adding water to keep the beans covered. Drain, rinse and add the hominy, salt and chile powder. Cover pot partially and simmer for 1-2 hours, until the beans and hominy are tender. Add water as necessary to keep beans and hominy submerged. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with green chile sauce or top with strips of roasted green chile.

      Pueblo Anasazi bean and hominy soup

  Pueblo Anasazi bean and hominy soup

notes 

To round out the meal, serve with blue or yellow corn tortillas.

If you can't get hold of Anasazi beans, pinto beans can be substituted. 

I used a mix of three different dried powdered chile; feel free to use what kind you like best. Chiles from the Southwest of the United States would be most authentic.

Recipe adapted from Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by Smithsonian American Indian by Fernando Divina and Marlene Divina. 

 

potage au potiron

musquée de Provence - the fairytale pumpkin

I go nuts for winter squash every year. As of today, there's one butternut in the spice rack, another camping out with the potatoes and two Kabochas in with the avocados. But the most exciting squash this year, for me, is the musquée de Provence. But wait; I should not lie. It was also the most exciting squash for me last year, but I hemmed and hawed over what to do with it and the beautiful slice I had snagged at the farmers market went bad.

This year I was determined to not be so undone! When these fairytale pumpkins popped up this year, my sweetheart picked up a slice for me while I was pawing the pomegranates under the condition that I cook it up tout de suite. "Tonight we feast like French monks!" I exclaimed, and promptly adapted the recipe for Potage au Potiron from Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourette's This Good Food.


fairytale pumpkin soup

makes 4-6 servings

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 slice pumpkin - about 4 cups - cubed
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • a pinch of tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup coconut milk

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and then add the pumpkin, potatoes and carrot. Stir, then add the onion, garlic, tarragon, salt and pepper. Keep at a low boil for 20 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for another 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and blend with an immersion blender, upright blender or food processor. Be wary of the steam! Pour the soup back into the pot, stir in the coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes.


  potage au potiron - fairytale pumpkin soup, garnished with green onions

potage au potiron - fairytale pumpkin soup, garnished with green onions

notes

This is a remarkably rich soup that honestly doesn't "need" any dairy or oil in the first place, and is very omni friendly. Feel free to leave out the coconut milk entirely, or substitute your favorite non-dairy milk. Garnish as you please; traditionally with a pinch of parsley, though green onions are nice, as are spicy toasted pepitas.

If you get a whole pumpkin or even just a slice with seeds, you can clean and save the seeds to plant. Or so I hear; we haven't gotten to the planting stage yet.