December 13, 2013

A quick trip to Philadelphia and a bean soup

Homemade white bean soup with fresh rosemary and lemon.

We recently returned from a quick trip to Philly to see relatives. Mainly we were there to see my husband's mother, but we both have siblings there, and my oldest, dearest friend is there as well. A combination of the trip being too short, and an unexpected snow storm, meant I couldn't see my friend, but we did manage to fit in most of the family. I was randomly selected as a non-terrorist by the TSA and allowed to flit through security without removing my scarf, jacket or boots, and without having to display my liquids, gels and powders — both there and home. It reminded me of the good old days when traveling was fun.

Chickpea masala, and potatoes and spinach from Zaika in Northeast Phila.

Our flight was delayed about two hours in Seattle because of clouds and rain at the Philadelphia airport. The long flight coupled with the fact that we'd gotten up about 4 a.m. to get to the airport in time for our original departure, meant that by the time we arrived at our hotel we were fried. My husband found a Indian/Pakastani restaurant, Zaika, about a block from the hotel that was just about to close (it was close to 9 p.m.) and only had a few food choices left, but there were two that were both dairy and gluten-free, and he brought back a chickpea masala and a potato and spinach dish. We couldn't have the rice because it had butter, but we were so exhausted we didn't care. The food, elegantly displayed on a plastic plate above, was actually pretty good.

We didn't get to explore the many downtown eateries that I've been reading about on Philly-based blogs, but we did enjoy the dining experiences that we had, including the Indian takeout on our first night. The day after we arrived we had a family gathering at my husband's brother and sister-in-law's lovely home, and my sister-in-law Shelley put together a beautiful lunch with an assortment of fresh, tasty, sandwich and salad ingredients, and a bean soup that came from a gourmet deli. Sadly, I neglected to take any photos. The soup was so tasty that I planned to try to reproduce it when we got home, and post a recipe, but by the time we arrived back home, I couldn't remember the flavors, so I improvised. And I wasn't organized enough to create a recipe.

Buddha's delight from Wild Ginger in Huntington Valley, PA.

On our second night in Philly we had a big family meetup at Wild Ginger, a vegan-friendly Chinese/Japanese/Thai restaurant located not far (by Philly standards) from my mother-in-law's apartment. A dark restaurant and an iphone made for iffy photos, so what you're seeing is a picture of my husband's dinner — Buddha's Delight. Mine was a gluten-free version of broccoli and tofu but the image was too blurry to use. We also shared a rice-noodle dish as an appetizer. I usually have leftovers but I was starving, and ate everything. Every tasty bite.

On our last night, we had homemade chili cooked by my mother-in-law, and shared with my brother and sister-in-law. It was really great to see everyone, but we had to cut the evening short because there was six inches of fresh snow waiting for us outside, and we all wanted to get back to home and hotel before the freezing rain set in.

After lunch the next day — pasta for my husband, and Whole Foods sushi and soup for me — it was back to the airport for the long flight home. We had the middle and window seats, and don't you know that when a stranger is in the aisle seat with an open computer and tons of crap on the floor, it makes the person in the window seat obsess about having to pee. It was a long flight.

Toasted granulated onion, aleppo pepper, minced garlic.

Remember when I mentioned the bean soup I wanted to make? I was planning to use a few new items I found at Penzey's not too long ago, to flavor it. We had actually gone to Penzey's to pick up a couple of things we were out of, but our daughter-in-law had also requested a couple of items that she needed. Two of the items were dehydrated garlic bits and toasted granulated onion. I'd never had either of them before but Penzey's has sample jars of everything they sell available to sniff, and one sniff was all it took to convince me I needed these two items, too. Then I came upon a jar of aleppo pepper that I couldn't resist. Penzey's knows what they're doing with those jars!


The soup I made was a very warming dish loaded with cannelini beans, carrots, spinach and corn, flavored with garlic, toasted onion, mushroom powder, aleppo pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, fresh lemon and fresh rosemary. It was a soup of opportunity. Any herb would work, fresh or dried. I happened to have rosemary still alive in my garden so that's what I used. I could have used any form of  garlic, and plain granulated onion would have worked, too. (I really recommend the toasted onion — it adds a wonderful flavor when added near the end of cooking.) I always have cans of beans as well as dried beans in the pantry, and cannelini happen to be a favorite. There was half a bag of frozen spinach needing to be used up and also a bag of frozen corn. The inspiration came from our lunch in Philadelphia, but my pantry dictated what went into the soup, more or less, and I loved the result. I'm hoping to write out a recipe soon as this is a soup I'd like to make again. Have you tried any of the three Penzey's herbs I used in my soup?

22 comments:

  1. I love Penzey's! There is one in Winter Park, FL, and I try to pop in every time we're down there visiting Dave's family. That soup looks good! Dave was just saying he had a great bean soup with dill, so I might use your spice suggestions but replace the rosemary with dill for him!

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    1. We used to live just a few minutes from a Penzey's in Madison, but the one that opened in Seattle is downtown, and we rarely go there unless we're in town for something else. It's a dangerous store, filled with so many things I want!

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  2. I'm so cold that I can't concentrate on anything but that delicious looking soup. Too bad you didn't make it to any of the the vegan, Philly greats, but you seemed to have fared pretty well nonetheless.

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    1. On short Philly trips, we have to focus on family. I need to assemble a list of restaurants for our next longer trip, when we have more time to explore. Too bad the vegan restaurants weren't there when we lived there. Oh wait, we weren't vegan then, anyway. :)

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  3. I am jealous that you got through security without having to take off your layers or shoes or put out your liquids!
    There is a Penzy's within walking distance of my apt--I love it!

    Courtney

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    1. I was afraid to make eye contact with anyone in the huge crowd of people waiting to go through the regular line as I walked right through. I know they were hating me. : )

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  4. That soup looks amazing and I love the long slices of carrot. I am now craving a bowl, although I think I might manage two, even though it is only 10 in the morning here.

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    1. Soup makes a good breakfast! I must make this one again and write out the ingredients.

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  5. That looks like just the right sort of soup you need for a cold winter's day when you've just come in from the outside and your fingers and toes are frozen, and you need something hearty and healthy to heat you up. I'm on a real Chinese food kick at the moment, so the Buddha's delight looks really, really good right now.

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    1. The Buddha's Delight WAS really good, and so was my blurry bowl of tofu and broccoli, but sometimes only soup will do.

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  6. That's great that you got to go through security without all the hassle.

    The soup sounds pretty amazing & I'm glad you had a decent trip. Too bad you didn't get to explore more restaurants and that the weather was so cold, but it does sound like you ate well!

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    1. I would like traveling more if security weren't such a pain, but I don't like the idea of having to pay for security clearance. If I'm randomly an acceptable risk, they should just give me a permit! Sigh.

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  7. Oh man I'm sorry about this stupid weather in this stupid city! It is really making a mess of everything. 3 big snowstorms in the past week, ugh! I haven't been to Wild Ginger; it's a bit far for me, but I'm glad to hear it was good! Next time you are in Philly, let me know and we'll go to Vedge :)

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    1. I LOVED the snow — so pretty! And I never get to see snow anymore. But, three times in a week is a lot for Philly to deal with.

      I went to Vedge on our last visit and it was amazing. Such delicious and beautiful food.

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  8. Sorry for the bad plane luck! But the food looks pretty good. I love Philly, my husband grew up there, but I haven't been since going vegan.

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    1. Actually, the GOOD plane-luck of getting through security as an expedited traveler more than made up for the delay. I don't usually get to visit all the places I love in Philly because our trips are so short and family-centric, but the historic Philadelphia area is so cool. I'm a big fan of Benjamin Franklin (read his autobiography at least twice) and I love visiting the old buildings.

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  9. Bummer on the weather but at least you got to spend time with your family and enjoy some yummy looking food. The soup looks great, it's awesome when a restaurant dish inspires you to try to cook it at home. Penzey's is the best, I love those jars they have in the store. :-)

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    1. The snow was beautiful and it was a treat to be in a storm so don't feel too sorry for me. I miss snow, though I could do with a bit less than we had in Wisconsin. : )

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  10. Hooray for Penzey's, I was fortunate enough to get gifted some of their spices last year. I've used aleppo pepper in school, but never at home. That soup looks great, canellini beans are one of my favorite types of beans!

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    1. Penzey's is a little too much fun — it's hard to only buy what I need when I go there. I love the aleppo pepper — it has a nice, tangy kick.

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  11. Congratulations on not looking like a terrorist! :)

    I was *this* close to go into a Penzey's shop last year somewhere during our travels, but it was too early in the morning and the store wasn't open yet. This year I will time it better and it shall be the year when I spend all my money at a Penzey's!

    Your bean soup looks so perfect for this super cold weather. It sounds delicious with that yummy toasted granulated onion.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and that you were not made to take off your shoes at the airport! That aisle-seat jerk needs to learn some plane manners though.

    Are you going to treat us to some chocolate-topped bars next? :)

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    1. I don't look like a terrorist on paper, anyway. The problem with Pensey's is you really could spend all your money there. They have too many things you never would have thought of if you didn't see them — like toasted granulated onion and aleppo pepper. I don't remember ever thinking I needed either of those.

      Now how did you guess about the bars? And the chocolate. :)

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