Old New World: Northeastern hazelnut soup and missiiagan-pakwejigan

Norhteastern hazelnut soup and missiiagan-pakwejigan

Nut soups were well-established in the pre-colonial Northeast and prepared by both the Algonquin and Iroquois or Haudenosaunee. I'm not sure who to attribute this version to, exactly, but it is a delicious soup. Erring on the side of Algonquin, this could be served with missiiagan-pakwejigan (Algonquin sunflower flatbread) or cornbread to round out the meal.

hazelnuts ready to be toasted

Northeastern hazelnut soup

makes 4 servings

  • 1 pound hazelnuts
  • 6-8 green ramps, green onions or nodding onions, white part only
  • 1/2 cup watercress, including stems
  • 2 TBSP hazelnut, sunflower or corn oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until toasted. Remove and allow to cool. Place the cooled nuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove as much of the papery skin as possible. 

Trim roots from the ramps and remove any woody stems or flowers. Thinly slice the ramps with their tops on and set aside.

Rinse and drain the watercress, removing woody stems or pale leaves. Chop coarsely. 

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add ramps and watercress and wilt for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the broth and hazelnuts. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then decrease to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and mash, or, using a handheld blender, process until smooth.  Return to a simmer over medium heat, thin if necessary with more broth, and stir in salt. Serve immediately.

 

missiiagan-pakwejigan

makes 4

  • 3/4 cup + 1 TBSP sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 cup + 1 TBSP water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP corn flour
  • corn oil for pan-frying

Place sunflower seeds, water and salt in a pot over low heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Most of the water will be gone when well cooked; crush the seeds to make a paste, add the salt and stir. Then add the corn flour 1/2 tablespoon at a time to thicken. Allow to cool. Divide dough into 4 rounds, making small, flat pancakes. Heat the corn oil and fry each side until golden.

notes 

I substituted spinach for the watercress; any tender seasonal green will work here.

You can also make a sunflower seed or black walnut soup following the soup recipe. Don't toast the sunflower seeds, though.

I mashed the sunflower seeds with a potato masher right in the pot for about 7 minutes. 

If you don't want to use corn oil for the missiiagan-pakwejigan, you can use sunflower oil.

Shaping and pan-frying the missiiagan-pakwejigan  was very similar to shaping and pan-frying falafel for me, so if you've ever done that, you're halfway there.

Recipes from Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by Fernando and Marlene Divina and nativetech.org.

 

Northeastern hazelnut soup and missiiagan-pakwejigan