Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Store-bought vs. homemade, soup division

with 6 comments

I just had some soup from a little neighborhood market. I went in to look and wanted to buy something. (Looking was rewarded: they have Red Boat fish sauce, which can be hard to find locally.)

The soup was pretty good, but I immediately thought of making my own version. I had checked the label and found that the ingredients were on the whole okay — well, take a look.

That’s Allen Family Foods Tuscan White Bean and Kale soup. I could certainly do without the Agave syrup (pure refined fructose), and while I’m glad to see turmeric included, it is the very last ingredient. The major ingredients are all fine, and the minor ingredients are very small in proportion. (For example, note that this soup has less white wine than sea salt.)

Note also that the word “Tuscan” is important to increase the appeal of the soup. “Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup” is more appealing than “White Bean and Kale Soup.” See this post for more on the importance of recipe names.

Here’s the first cut of an ingredient list for a version I think I’ll make:

Exotic Black Bean and Kale Soup — or, Ribollita My Way

• Black beans (have more nutrients than white beans)
• Kale — Lacinato kale, I think; seems appropriate
• Leek or spring onion or scallions; maybe red onion as a fallback
• Some diced carrot — 1 medium regular carrot or 1/2 Nantes carrot
• 2 Cayenne Peppers (or 1 Red Habanero Pepper, seeded)
• Garlic
• Ginger
• Turmeric + Black Pepper
• Dried Marjoram
• Dried Thyme
• A little ground cinnamon
• Salt substitute
• MSG 
• Water

and after some reading:

• Oat groats (about 1/2 cup)
• Red cabbage, chopped and allowed to rest 45 minutres
• Purple potatoes, diced 

Depending on my mood, I might include some pumpkin seeds or walnuts, either in cooking or added when served. I’ll probably cook the black beans separately, then add them (already cooked) to the soup. I might spray in a little olive oil — in fact, perhaps sauté the non-bean ingredients, then add beans and water to make a thick stew. 

I might also include mushrooms along with the carrot. I could also include tempeh, but this already has beans. So perhaps some sort of grain cooked in the stew — a millet, or hulled barley, or oat groats, which would make a nice thick stew. Now that I write it, I like the sound of using oat groats, perhaps half a cup for the batch of stew. That would thicken it, which is what they were going for with chickpea flour and tapioca flour, but using a whole grain (with the beans, a better protein). 

I might add balsamic vinegar, now that I see that they’ve done that. Acid brightens the taste, and balsamic vinegar would bring a little of that along with some sweetness (that was the point of the Agave syrup, I imagine). Or instead, I might blend a couple of peeled lemons and add that pulp to the stew just before serving.

Update:  In terms of nutrients, lentils would surpass black beans — Du Puy lentils would be nice. Or I could keep to the original color scheme with chickpeas.

I’m thinking Lacinato kale for the kale. And possibly tomatoes. Definitely the oat groats. 

More ideas: A Wikipedia article on ribollita gave me more ideas. Oat groats will work well in lieu of day-old bread (for thickening and for grain — and oat groats are a whole food, whereas bread is not), and I think I’ll include some red cabbage and some chopped purple potatoes. I’ve added those to the recipe.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2022 at 11:22 am

6 Responses

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  1. Mike, I am astonished that you would consciously add MSG to anything you make. I avoid it like the plague and will not buy anything processed that contains it. It makes both of us jittery and uncomfortable and I consider it not at all a healthy addition to home-cooked food. I am interested in your viewpoint of this.



    26 September 2022 at 7:06 pm

  2. I view MSG as perfectly okay. A few posts that explain why.

    Liked by 1 person


    26 September 2022 at 8:11 pm

  3. Just curious: do you also react to foods high in glutamate? Foods like those listed here. I have often used glutamate-rich foods to add umami — like tamari, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan, parmesan rind (in soups), anchovies, mushrooms, tomatoes, and so on. Those foods add umami because they are high in glutamates. I don’t see much difference in adding a pinch of MSG.



    26 September 2022 at 8:31 pm

  4. Interesting. I hadn’t heard that about glutamates. Thx.




    26 September 2022 at 8:59 pm

  5. I don’t seem to have issues with foods on that list.




    26 September 2022 at 9:00 pm

  6. That’s odd — those foods are high in glutamate (which is why they are often used to add umami). MSG is just the purified form. At any rate, I have no problem with it, and studies made after the initial scare (vis-à-vis Chinese restaurants) have shown that the ill effects of MSG are not really evident.

    Anyway, MSG does add good umami, and I’ve had no issues. I even have added a pinch to salads, which does seem to add a deeper flavor. (I don’t use much — a small pinch is generally enough.)



    26 September 2022 at 9:04 pm

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