Friday, February 5, 2010

Simple Soup for Allergy Sufferers

I don't know why I never thought of this before, but I didn't. I can make soup. As in, soup that I can actually consume vs. soup the family eats but I avoid like the deadly plague that it is.

I have meat. I have a few veggies. I have water - why not make soup?

Today, I finally did it for the first time. And it is awesome. Real soup. I haven't had soup in 6 months. This is...beyond cool. Wonderful. And I think it is easily adapted for most high allergen diets.

For any other cooking-challenged, multi-allergy sufferers, here's the basic recipe idea:

Simple Soup
What you need:
A meat source - beef, chicken, buffalo, etc...
A few vegetables - if you have a veggie that can be boiled, you can stick it in a soup.
Whatever seasonings you can use - mine is salt, yee ha.

What you do:
1. Chop everything up and stick it in a big pot. Add the seasonings. Add water to cover, and then add that much again.

2. Bring to a boil and then lower this to a simmer, leaving the cover off. You want to boil this down until a broth develops with a nice flavor. Reminder: that means that whatever seasonings you add will be concentrated, so you don't want to add too much, too early.

3. Cook until it reaches the desired flavor. This is typically 1-3 hours, depending on what altitude you're at.

Points for Variety:
--I didn't mention fish or shellfish in the meat category mostly because I don't know much about them, and because so many people have allergies to them. If you used seafood, I have a feeling that you might have to put it in a little later in the process so it didn't get too rubbery/chewy by the end of the cooking. Or put it in early, scoop it out once cooked, and put it back in after the broth has concentrated, just long enough to warm it through.

--You may have to experiment with what veggies you can have, to find the right taste combination. There are definitely a few that don't work out so well, LOL. Beets, for example, will turn everything an interesting shade of bright purple-pink. Tomatoes, if you can find them, are almost always a nice addition.

-- You can add beans, hominy, or lentils to the equation as an addition, or as an alternative protein source (probably tofu, as well, although I don't know how well it would stand up). If you get dried beans or hominy, soak them in water overnight and then add them in at the beginning of cooking. The higher altitude you are, the longer it will take to cook the beans. For lentils, look up cooking time for them and add when you have that much time left. Small red lentils (like these) typically take 5-10 minutes or less to cook and make a pretty addition.

--You can add cooked grains to individual bowls just before serving. Rice and quinoa both do well in the soups I've tried, although I needed a stronger flavor to go well with the quinoa.

--Something from your local environment might be edible too! For example, I live in a desert in the SW United States. We have local trees called Palo Verde, and most people don't realize that when their seeds are still green, they can be cooked and eaten just like peas. Checking out the more exotic 'wild' foods in your area may be worth a try if you are reacting to everything under the sun, like myself

--A bit of sour, like lemon/lime juice, or vinegar, can add a little zing to your soup if you add it after you've boiled the soup down and turned off the heat.

--If you like sour and can't have citrus or vinegar, you might want to check out Amchur powder (you can find it here). It's powdered mango, used in Indian cooking, and adds a pleasant sour flavor to the food. It will need to be a cooked just a little to impart the flavor nicely. You can find it at Indian grocery stores, as well.

--Same with a bit of plain yogurt (dairy, soy, or coconut), if you can have it, added to the soup after it's in the bowls. The sour goes well with strong but darker flavors (especially lentils).

--If you are VERY limited in your diet right now but can have a few root vegetables, I recommend checking out your root vegetables fully on-line. Many of them have edible tops, if you buy the organic kind (the non-organic often have higher pesticide concentration in the greens, I understand). Carrots and beets are two good examples of those with edible tops.*

*a small percentage of people have a contact allergy to green tops of carrots. If touching the greens gives you the tingles or a rash, obviously these aren't the foods for you.

As for what soup I made? This would be the recipe for my particular diet, for those who might need something similar.

Simple Buffalo Soup
What you need:
2 pounds ground buffalo
4 carrots, scraped(or peeled) and roughly chopped
chopped carrot tops (greens) from half of 1 bunch of carrots
1 yellow sweet potato, chopped
sea salt to taste

What you do:
1. Dump all of these in a big pot. Pour in enough water to cover, and then add that much again.

2. Turn the heat on high until it reaches a boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Reminder again to not put the lid on so the water evaporates and helps with getting the broth concentrated. There'll be a bit of foam on the top of the water, usually. You can skim it or not. I don't, because I need every nutrient I can get, and I figure there's gotta be something in that I can use. It'll mix back into the soup eventually, anyway.

3. Simmer until the soup meets your taste requirements. At about 3,000 feet, it took me approximately 2 hours to cook it down so the broth tasted like soup instead of flavored water. The sweet potatoes lose a bit of their flavor, so they tasted more like regular potatoes to me, which I liked. The broth is rather rich, in my opinion, but then again, I haven't had any broth in a while, so that may be affecting my perception of it!

Of note in both recipes: The veggies are VERY soft after all this cooking, obviously. I liked them that way, and I wanted the flavor to enter the broth, so I kept them in from the beginning.

However, if you didn't want that, I would suggest making a veggie-broth first with your own veggies (Do everything the same but omit the meat/protein source, then strain out the veggies. Mash them through a sieve to get every last drop of liquid out.). You could then use the broth, add more meat and veggies, and simply cook until they were cooked through.


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