Sunday, January 27, 2013

Locavore Fish & Greens Soup for Cook the Books & Food 'n Flix: The Hunger Games and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I first picked up The Hunger Games a couple of years ago, having heard about it from friends and coming across the paperback version at Costco. I devoured it. When I received a Kindle for Christmas soon after, the first two books I loaded were the other two books in the series. I saw the movie the first weekend it came out, and although it differed in points from the book, I loved it just as well. So when Heather of girlichef came up with the brilliant idea to combine it as the December/January Cook the Books selection, along with the January Food 'n Flix movie pick, I was instantly on board. 

I don't know many people that are not a least a little familiar with the premise of The Hunger Games due to the success of both the print and film versions, but here is a quick synopsis of the plot. The war-ravaged ruins of North America is now the nation of Panem, twelve districts under the thumb of the Capital. As a way of keeping the districts from revolting and reminding them of the Capital's power, the Hunger Games are held annually, with each district drawing two tributes, one male and one female aged twelve to eighteen-year old to fight. The Hunger Games are telecast live with much fanfare, and since they fight to the death, the winner is the only survivor.  

Katniss Everdeen, from District Twelve is sixteen and knows there is a good chance her name or her friend Gale's names will be drawn in "the reaping" as their names have been entered multiple times for extra food rations to feed their starving families. It's Katniss' sister Prim's name that is drawn, surprising since it is her first year and first entry, and Katniss volunteers to become tribute in Prim's place. In the 74 years of the Hunger Games, a tribute from District Twelve has only one twice. Katniss has learned to hunt and forage provide for herself and family, but can she translate those skills to kill other tributes, survive and win the games?

Although the book was published in the young-adult genre, it is action-packed and the subject matter dark enough to appeal to different ages. It's not a pretty picture in the world of The Hunger Games, but despite the desolation and starvation, hope, love and humanity exist. 

From a food perspective, the book is much more detailed than the film--although we get some glimpses of food especially in the opulent Capital in the movie. Almost from the start, I have known what I wanted to make--comforting, simple and nourishing--a warm bowl of soup. In the beginning of the story, Katniss brings home fish and a bag of greens that end up cooking in a stew, for dinner after the reaping ceremony. Later on in the book, in the arena, Katniss makes a soup for Peeta using warm stones from the stream banks and tossing in leftovers and whatever she can find--bits of groosling and roots and adding chives from a clump growing around the rocks to spice it up a little. 

Deciding to combine ideas from these two dishes, I made a Locavore Fish and Greens Soup as my dish to represent The Hunger Games. Katniss is used to hunting, foraging and trading in her district's marketplace, the "Hob." While I didn't do my own fishing, or gathering (other than the herbs from my lanai containers), all the ingredients in my soup are from my "district" of Oahu and a few from the other districts--the Hawaiian islands. 

The broth is flavored with sweet onion, leeks, ginger, lemongrass and chives and seasoned with Hawaiian sea salt. Root veggies add some substance and warm color for a "Girl on Fire"--multi-colored carrots and little golden beets. The fish is a mild mongchong caught in Hawaiian waters. So as not to overpower the fish, I used smaller, less better locally-grown micro greens--they seemed like something Kat could have gathered. Served with slices of locally made bread in honor of Peeta and spread with Hawaiian-made goat cheese for Prim, it made a healthy soup that would fill the belly of any district citizen.
Locavore Fish and Greens Soup
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 Servings)

1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
4 baby leeks
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
2 stalks lemongrass, peeled, bruised and sliced into 2-inch pieces
leaves from a large sprig of thyme
about 1 1/2 cups multi-colored carrots, chopped
3 small golden beets, peeled and chopped
3/4 lb local fish (I used Monchong), cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups mixed micro greens, or green of choice--arugula or water cress are nice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives + additional for garnish
Hawaiian sea salt to taste

Heat a large heavy-bottom kettle or soup pot over medium-high heat. Have 6 cups water ready. Add onion, leeks, ginger, lemongrass and thyme leaves to the pot--stirring to prevent sticking. Saute the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until onions begin to lightly turn brown--about 7-10 minutes. If mixture seems to be sticking too much or burning add about 1/4 cup of the water and keep stirring. Once mixture is cooked and colored to your liking, add the remaining 6 cups of water, carrots and beets and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots and beets are mostly cooked through. If picky, you can remove the pieces of lemongrass stalk--I am lazy and leave them in.

Add fish and cook about 5 minutes until fish is cooked through. (If not using micro greens, add your greens at this time). Add micro greens and chives and cook a minute or two until greens are wilted. Salt to taste. Serve in bowls topped with additional chives for garnish. Enjoy with dark bread slathered with goat cheese. 

Notes/Results: Simple and nourishing this soup ended up with much more and better flavor than I thought it might have. The ginger and lemongrass come through in the broth and the sweetness of the leeks and carrots is a good combination with the sweet-earthy golden beets and the slight bitterness of the micro-greens. I like the pretty golden color the beets and carrots gave the broth. The tang of the goat cheese spread on the bread was a nice contrast with the soup. Light but satisfying--I would make it again. 

As mentioned this soup is my entry to both Cook the Books December/January pick and Food 'n Flix January selection of The Hunger Games, both brilliantly hosted by Heather of girlichef. There will be round ups on both sites of the dishes inspired by the book and/or movies. 

We have a few delectable soups waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's take a look.

First up, Heather of girlichef brings a spicy bowl of Roasted Tomato Soup with Poblanos (Sopa de Jitomate y Rajas) and says, "My version is not the one that normally comes to mind when you think tomato soup.  Instead of being thick and rich and creamy, it is brothy and earthy and very spicy - with noodles of roasted poblanos lacing every spoonful.  It is unexpected, but entirely welcome.  Don't forget the cubes of fresh, slightly salty cheese and a few tortilla chips for little variety in texture.  This will change the way you look at tomato soup."

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food offers up a creamy Cauliflower Potato Cheddar Cheese Soup and says, "Sometimes, it just clicks, and happens. The soup that was unplanned for but was made - thanks to weird quantities of ingredients remaining, sitting around. The cheese imparts a savory depth to the soup while the seven-spice powder gives a magic kick to the otherwise basic white soup."  

Janet from The Taste Space shares a hearty bowl of Beefy Portobello Mushroom and Cranberry Stew. She says, "I hadn’t really thought this was a bourguignon. However, it has a lot of similar flavours: red wine and sherry, carrots, thyme, mushrooms. No tomatoes, though and no need to use a thickener. TVP was used as a meat mimicker, texture only. I think a large bean could substitute if you are averse to TVP. The real beefy flavour came from Marmite. A yeasty, salty spread that Kiwis adore. The lovely twist in this recipe came from the fresh cranberries. Pleasantly tart, not sweet, but complemented the beefy stew incredibly well."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details. 

Have a happy, healthy week! 


  1. I love this idea...I could probably eat this daily and be perfectly happy! Perfectly inspired dish :)

  2. I still have yet to read the hunger games but it's increasingly apparent that I really need to! This soup is great! I love how it's all local. :)

  3. I haven't watched many movies but I've seen The Hunger Games. It was surprisingly good! Your soup looks delish, too... kind of a Thai-Polish fusion with the beets!

  4. Camilla @ Culinary AdventuresJanuary 31, 2013 at 5:56 AM

    Deb, your soup looks fantastic! And I love the addition of "fire" color. Nice job.

  5. Great inspiration for this soup! I loved the book and I was so impressed with all the full-blown meals that people posted.

  6. Danielle D'AmbrosioJanuary 31, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    I love that soup!!! And I love that you used locally grown produce. Sounds delicious!

  7. Sarah @ Well DinedJanuary 31, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Wow - I love that you keep everything local. Looks great!

  8. I nearly made this one, too and love your take on using local Hawaiian ingredients. If I did that, I would have ended up with catfish stew and collard greens - blech!

  9. Nicely done, you always have such great photos. Looks like a great soup for the cold days we are having here. Wish I were in Hawaii with you. Oh, and I love goat cheese so this would be a fantastic lunch for me today :-)


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