Sunday, December 30, 2012
Capital Finale: District of Columbia: Senate Bean Soup
For a relatively small place, DC has its share of distinctive foods. One of you sausage gurus needs to work out a veganized half-smoke. Also, mumbo sauce is often (but not always) already vegan, and is good on much more than Chinese food. (Mumbo sauce recipes are splattered across the internet -- see this one and this one, for starters.)
Whenever I visit DC, I head out for excellent Ethiopian and Eritrean fare, as well as authentic mouth-numbing Szechuan (cold ma la noodles, ma la cucumber, ma po tofu, etc).
One of the most famous DC recipes is the bean soup served in the Senate dining room. You can find the original recipe on the Senate website. Of course, we will remove the grotesque ham hock, but we need to add flavor. What better to add than some Ethiopian berbere and Szechuan peppercorn? If you are not familiar with berbere, it is an Ethiopian spice mixture. You might be able to find prepared berbere, or you can make your own. I like the recipe in kittee's Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food. There is another very fine berbere formula in Terry Romero's Vegan Eats World. The import of Szechuan peppercorns into the US was illegal until 2005. Thankfully, the FDA got over itself, and you can now enjoy that special tingly feeling without looking over your shoulder for the Feds.
Here's my new and improved version of Senate Bean Soup:
1. Soak 1 lb navy beans in cold water in the refrigerator, at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a pressure cooker with 10 c water, 1 large carrot (chopped), 1 T olive oil, 1 t berbere, and 1/2 t ground sichuan pepper. Bring to high pressure, and cook for 14 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. (If you have never used a pressure cooker, be sure to read the directions for your device carefully! Of course, you can make this soup without a pressure cooker, but it will take a lot longer.)
3. While the beans are cooking, fry 1 onion (chopped) and 2 stalks celery (chopped) in 1 T olive oil until the onion browns. Add 2 cloves garlic (chopped) and cook for another minute or two.
4. Once the pressure has been released, carefully remove the lid of the cooker. Add the onion mixture and 1/4 c chopped parsley to the soup, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add celery salt and additional berbere and sichuan pepper, to taste. (I added 1 1/2 t celery salt, 1 t berbere, and 1/2 t sichuan pepper. This resulted in a fairly spicy but not incendiary soup. Go slowly and taste frequently until it is the way you want it.) Finally, add about 1 c dry/instant mashed potatoes (not all brands are vegan - check carefully) to thicken the soup, and simmer another few minutes.
While I was making the soup, I chopped injera into triangles and baked it on a silicone baking mat at 275F until it was crispy. (It takes longer than you might expect, as injera is very moist.) A handful of these were very nice, alongside the soup. If you cannot buy injera where you live, and don't want to go through the rather tricky process of making it, kittee's zine and Terry's cookbook (linked above) both have easier/quicker copycat recipes which yield good results.
This is the final post in this series, which I began back in October for the annual Vegan Month of Food: 50 states, 5 territories, and 1 federal district! I've certainly enjoyed this journey, and I hope you have, too. This blog will probably go dark for a little while, but will return in due course for the next VeganMoFo, if not before.
Posted by JohnP at 6:50 AM