Hello. It’s Christmas Eve.
I am having so much fun listening to Eric reminisce about his holiday traditions with his family, working with him to recreate those same flavors and smells since we aren’t actually flying back home to Dallas for the holidays this year. He is militant about his mama’s apple cider and has been waking me up with a cup from the crockpot every morning now.
“Oh! I forgot to get cranberry juice!” I say while we’re mixing all the ingredients together. A puppy frown falls over his face. “I can go get it!” he insists–an indirect offer to trek through the snow again to bring back the measly cup called for in the recipe. “It already tastes kinda tangy…I don’t know if we even need it! Or maybe we can use lemon instead!?” I say, in a tone a mother would use to sway a child. While I’m cool with just winging it and continuing on like all is fine, his face pulls lower, his mind processing my unsatisfying solution. “But it doesn’t look right.” he says, defeated.
The color is so important to him, and I realize my pale cider will pale in comparison. So we set out to get the cranberry juice to make this apple cider just the right tint of mahogany he remembers, and as I walk through the iced streets, bundled in my thick coat and long snow boots, I smile, because I know how important it is, and how amazing it feels to make it feel like everything good I’ve known at Christmas. His connections to his food memories are JUST SO CUTE and everything I celebrate about food. I love this man over and over again!
SOUP, SOUP, SOUP: Now that we’re nearing the end of the year, it’s only natural that I’m feeling reflective (yes, more than normal, if you can even imagine). And while I wish I could say baking all these pies and cakes is making it easier for me to cope with my sometimes ungovernable thoughts, I haven’t been able to lose myself in the soothing and meditative dance between my standmixer and my oven like usual. But I have been able to make lots and lots of different soups and stews (thank God for that!), with the faith that they will soothe my soul more effectively. Here is one soup (or is it a stew? or is it the crossbreed word coined by Rachel Ray, “stoup”? You tell me…) I made on Friday. It’s swimming with the best, belly-coating ingredients. After cleaning the fridge of vegan meat samples I received in the mail, the bushel of collards in the bottom drawer of the fridge, and the sack of yellow potatoes sitting in the holding dish above the microwave, it all came together without much thought. Usually I don’t use faux meats, opting always for tofu or mushrooms, and even tempeh, but it was there, “chorizo” for me to taste-test, and I finally, after days of just staring at it, knew exactly what I would do with it!
This soup is a spin on the oh-so popular Potato Kale Soup, except I’m using collards which, traditionally, I’d pair with pork, but chorizo is going to be much more flavorful. This chorizo is seasoned with chili powder and cumin, and I’m really drawn to those flavors these days. You’ll see that the yellow potatoes hold up really well in this soup, so I do recommend this variety for that reason, but if you’re making mashed potatoes definitely use Yukon Gold, and if you’re making french fries opt for russet–they each have different textures when they cook down. Because all of the ingredients in here are quite heavy, I supplement that heft with and good amount of fresh squeezed lemon juice and sumac, a Middle Eastern spice that has a very distinct and lovely twang.
Here’s How I made it: Makes about 6-8 servings
- Olive oil for sauteing
- 1 cup of “chorizo” chunks (I used 1/2 package of NoEvilFoods Chorizo)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1, 32-ounce container veggie broth
- 1 cup milk (plant-based)
- 2 large yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces, about 3 cups
- 2-3 cups of cleaned and chopped collard greens (thick stems removed)
- 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp ground sumac
- 2-3 Tbsp butter (dairy-free if desired)
- Salt to taste
In a large, deep saute pan or pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, and saute the chorizo until browned and slightly crunchy on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a bowl or plate to set aside. Scrape the bottom of any burnt bits to discard, and then heat a little more olive oil. To the olive oil add the onions and saute for 2 minutes before adding the garlic. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly being careful not to burn, and then add in the chili powder and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add in the veggie broth and milk stirring to combine. Salt to taste.
Add in the cubed potatoes, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low, place a lid over the top, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add in the collards, lemon juice, tamari, and chorizo, stir to combine, and cook with the lid on again for another 10 or so minutes or until the collards are tender.
When ready to serve, sprinkle over the sumac, adjust for salt, and stir in the butter to finish/to cut the acidity. Serve into bowls and enjoy!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS!! Xx
Currently Reading: The 4-Hour Work Week and The Code of The Extraordinary Mind and I’m feeling so understood!! Let me know if you have read or are currently reading, so I know who my friends are out there/so I can start assembling my internet tribe.
Currently putting in my mouth: A Soy Latte from Starbucks that I’ve spiked with Creme de Cacao. Completely defeating the purpose of the soy part.
Love this song today: Cruel Intentions by Snoh Aalegra, feeling some Mary J. Blige vibes in it.