|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?