Monday, November 21, 2011

The Soup Project: Enchilada Soup with Black-Eyed Peas

Enchilada soup is one of my go-to recipes when I haven't decided what to make for dinner and I'm running out of time to decide. And as you might guess, the most important ingredient is enchilada sauce.

I found the best farm made enchilada sauce when I visited Gathering Together Farm. They bottle it at Sweet Creek Foods and if you live in Washington, Oregon or California, you can mostly likely find the Sweet Creek brand of enchilada sauce, which is pretty similar. It's sold at co-ops and natural food stores. I'm down to just one jar of Gathering Together Farm enchilada sauce, so I'll be first in line when their store opens next season.

Grocery stores around here mainly have Hatch brand enchilada sauce. Look for a more natural brands of enchilada sauce in natural foods stores.

This is the outdoor patio for the restaurant at Gathering Together Farm. Revisiting this pic makes me nostalgic for summer. I try to stop in at least a few times each season and now I'm long overdue for a visit, and now the farm store closed for the season this past Saturday. I can't wait till it opens again next spring.

An optional ingredient for this soup is a sweet potato or yam. The soup cooks until the small diced potato falls apart and this makes the broth thicker and adds sweet tones. Some farmers in Northwest grow hearty varieties of sweet potatoes and yams. These roots are typically grown in the Southern U.S. because they have a long growing season. They also need to be "cured" or stored in a very warm humid room for 5 to 10 days to develop the sweet flavors.

I also like to use grey shallots in this soup, but the truth is, the enchilada sauce can overpower them and onions work just as well and cost a lot less. I'd go for sweet onions, but it's entirely up to you.

I grew my own grey shallots for the past few years. I got quite a few from planting some of the shallots I bought at the market from Grouse Mountain Farm and the ones I got from Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, Oregon. Sadly I gave the job of planting shallots to Tom, possibly when he was paying attention to something else and jsut yesterday I saw those same shallots for planting in the same place on his desk. So much for grey shallots from our garden next summer. Do it yourself comes to mind for next year's garden plan.

One good reason for growing your own is the expense. I spotted grey shallots at the Bellingham Food Co-op last fall for $13.00 a pound last fall, making it worth it to try and grow your own.

Another optional addition to this soup is kale. It doesn't matter what kind of kale. I often have a bundle in the refrigerator no matter what time of year it is, and it's another way to use this great vegetable. Sometimes I sauté it with shallots and scoop it on top of each soup serving.

Finally, a word about the black-eyed peas. I have never found them at farmers' markets in the Northwest, so I concluded they must be a southern legume; after all Hoppin' John originated in the south with African, French and Carribean roots. I've used other beans in this and black beans seem to be a good second choice. But there's something so compelling about black-eyed peas--the texture, the flavor. I think I could eat them every day. Even if you don't like beans, just try black eyed peas and see what you think.

This recipe takes little prep and it could use other vegetables you have on hand. Rutabaga, celery and potatoes come to mind. If you're pressed for time this week or you just want an easy dinner plan, try this soup. All it needs for accompaniment are warm tortillas and a tossed green salad.

Enchilada Soup with Black-Eyed Peas
(Serves 4)

4 small or 6 grey shallots, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 1/2 cups dry black-eyed peas, rinsed
1 16-ounce jar enchilada sauce
4 cups water
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (optional)
Salt to taste
Parsley for garnish (optional)

1. Heat a heavy stock pot or pressure cooker over medium heat. Cook the shallots in oil, stirring constantly until browned.

2. Remove pot from heat and add sweet potato or yam, black-eyed pears, enchilada sauce and water. Secure lid or cover soup pot. Bring pressure cooker up to pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally. For a soup pot, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until peas are soft.

3. Add kale and simmer over low uncovered until kale wilts. Add salt to taste and garnish with parsley. Serve with cornbread or warm corn tortillas.

PS--A special thanks to Jill Nussinow and her new book for her excellent tips on pressure cooking. I've got to say my pressure cooker was the best investment I made this year.

He was being so good, but suddenly he couldn't resist. And I didn't see it, until . . .

Then I laughed. Now he doesn't take me seriously. I wonder if he ever really will? Training lessons continue on a daily basis with hound dogs since they fake deafness whenever a command doesn't appeal to them. One can only hope for the best with a willful hound. Sometimes I think I'd have the same issues with a bear or raccoon, but hound dogs have an appealing way of making you forget their food obsessed faults.

I believe he gave it four paws up.


Nancy said...

The cold snap must have started us all thinking about warming peppers and Mexican-style food. I was cooking Mexican yesterday, too, with smoked long cayenne peppers. Yum!

Are grey shallots the same as French shallots, or do I have that backwards? Also, I wonder how different it would taste to use one of the spotted beans that can be grown here in the Northwest, such as cattle beans or painted pony beans? I haven't tasted them yet so don't know how much the flavor differs from black-eyed peas.

This soup looks wonderful, and it's no wonder your cooking assistant couldn't resist. P.S. I have cats so I'm used to not being taken seriously...

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hey Nancy--I think it is the cold weather. I think Jacob's Cattle beans would be great in this recipe. Beans are so versatile. I'm glad to hear there are other cooks who aren't really taken seriously at home.

Debbie @ Easy Natural Food said...

This looks so tasty and inviting! Thanks for sharing with Sunday Night Soup Night, look forward to seeing you again soon :)

Lorraine said...

This is a soup after my own heart! Thanks for the recipe. I was wondering where you get the enchilada sauce.

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Lorraine, I got the enchilada sauce at Gathering Together Farm. I lucked out and found three more jars in my pantry yesterday! Sweet Creek Foods also has a great enchilada sauce. I make this soup more than any other soup I've made this year.