I really enjoyed our August/September pick, the novel Sourdough by Robin Sloan, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats. (See her announcement post here.) I did meander through it, both reading (I renewed it three times from my local library) and listening to the audio book (I used an audible credit) as I have struggled lately to find time (especially time that I can stay awake) to read with my new job and transitioning from my old clients/jobs. The audio accompanied my Sunday soup making the last few weekends, as well as a couple of work commutes, and I finished up the final pages in my library book. But, as much as I lacked time to read it, I was always happy to pick it back up and again and immerse myself in the story.
Sourdough is a a fun food-focused novel with a unique premise that combines and explores bread making, finding your passion, and the San Francisco food and high-tech scenes. The author's debut novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough were both on my TBR list and Debra and Cook the Books gave me the nudge I needed to get to this one and I will be moving his first book up up on my to-read list, based on how much I liked Sourdough.
Lois Clary is a great character, as are Chaiman and Beoreg, the brothers who run the Clement Street Bakery and Sourdough out of their apartment kitchen. Lois, a software engineer becomes addicted to their simple menu of soup, sandwiches or combinations--all spicy, with their mysterious Mazg cuisine and music (an interview I read with the author states that hes was channeling the gypsy or Roma culture a bit for the Mazg). I enjoyed the quirky supporting characters in the book-- like the Lois Club members (who knew that was a thing around the country/world?), all of the different denizens and vendors of the Marrow Fair and the mysterious owner "Mr. Marrow," Charlotte Clingstone--the Alice Waters-like food icon, and even the Clement Street Starter--a character itself. I loved the emails from Beo to Lois and the unfolding stories of the Mazg and the starter. I like magical realism, so even if the ending leaned heavily to the fanciful, I was onboard. Sloan's vivid writing made me want to smell the bananas in the Clement Street Starter, taste the green Slurry nutrition drink, and hang out in the mushroom grotto at the Marrow Fair. Overall, an entertaining book that slyly looks at food--and food crafting and food automation from the perspectives of those who live to eat and those who eat to live.
I actually knew that I was going to make my version of the Combo (double spicy) from the Clement Street Soup and Sourdough menu. It was the first order Lois makes and her first taste of both the spicy soup and the sandwich and its wonderful bread on the simple menu.
"--I unwrapped my sandwich and open the soup and consumed the first combo (double spicy) of my life. If Vietnamese pho's healing powers, physical and psychic, make traditional chicken noodle soup seem like dishwater and they do--then this spicy soup, in turn, dishwatered pho. It was an elixir. The sandwich was spicier still, then sliced vegetables slathered with a fluorescent red sauce, the burn buffered by thick slabs of bread artfully toasted."
I had a vision of the sandwich, but not the soup--although I saw red broth in my mind. Later on a particularly hard day, Lois is given the "secret spicy" by Chaiman, after Beoreg hears her rattling sigh of frustration from work when she places her order. This time she receives something different: "a more compact tub containing a fiery red broth and not one but two slabs of bread for dipping. 'Secret spicy,' he whispered. The soup was so hot it burned the frustration out of me and I went to bed feeling like a fresh plate, scalded and scraped clean."
Somewhere in the in-between is my version of the "Combo (Double Spicy)"--a red soup full of of scarlet-hued peppers and tomatoes and warming spices, and a sandwich with slices of grilled vegetables and a bright red "secret" spicy sauce. Because I lean to the less aggressive side of spice preference, I have no doubt my version is not as spicy as the book's Combo by far. Still, both my soup and the sauce have a nice slow burn of spice. The burrata (mozzarella's sexier cousin) is in the sandwich, both to buffer the medium-spices and because it happened to be a "Friday blow-out"--something my new company does to get rid of items close to their "best buy" date. I split a case of burrata with a couple of co-workers and ended up with three 8-oz tubs of the cheese for $1 each. Can't pass up a deal like that but, you could sub in fresh mozzarella or even goat cheese instead. My sourdough is from the grocery store's in-house bakery and not as wonderful as Lois's bread, but all things considered, this soup and sandwich combination turned out to be pretty spectacular.
Spicy Red Pepper-Tomato Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 Servings)
2 Tbsp coconut or other oil
1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
1 large carrot, sliced thinly
1 red jalapeno, diced (seeding optional)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
1 tsp smoky ancho pepper
5 cups veggie stock (I used porcini mushroom bouillon cubes)
2 tsp sugar (I used coconut sugar)
2 tsp Tabasco, or to taste
1/2 cup pickled peppadew peppers
12 oz jarred roasted red peppers
1 (28 oz) can Italian tomatoes in tomato juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute, then add smoked paprika, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper, and ancho pepper and cook until fragrant. Add the veggie stock, sugar, peppers and tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
Use an immersion blender in the pot or carefully blend soup (in batches) in a blender until smooth. Return to the pot, taste, add lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper and taste and adjust seasoning and spice level as needed.
Serve hot with a sandwich or sourdough bread for dipping and enjoy! (This soup also works cold, although the sweating from the heat and hot soup is actually cooling on a humid day).
"Secret" Spicy Sauce
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes a bit over 1/2 cup)
2 Tbsp Sriracha
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and add additional lemon juice, salt, or spice as desired.
Keep tightly-covered in fridge for a week.
Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Spicy Sauce & Burrata
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1 Sandwich)
I shaved slices of 1 small zucchini, 1 small yellow squash, and 2 small eggplants and tossed them with coconut oil and salt. I heated a grill pan over high heat and in batches, cooked the vegetable slices until they were softened with grill marks on either side. I then drained them on paper towels, patting off the excess oil and moisture.
I cut two thick slices of sourdough bread and brushed the outer sides of each piece with oil. I spread the inner sides with a layer of "Secret" Spicy Sauce, then layered vegetables on one side and burrata cheese on the other. I then placed the sandwich halves together and grilled over medium-high heat until the bread was toasted with grill marks on each side, pressing lightly down with a spatula. I let the finished sandwich "rest" for about 5 minutes, before slicing it in half and serving with the soup.
Notes/Results: My this was delicious (albeit messy) if I do say so myself! ;-) The soup is that wonderful combination of smooth and brothy, smoky, spicy, and sweet with a touch of acidity to round it out. I love red pepper soup and this is a great version. The cinnamon and smoked paprika, along with the cumin and mushroom broth, give it a nice depth of flavor and with the red jalapeno, Aleppo and ancho chile powders, and Tabasco, there was plenty of spice for me. The sandwich was stuffed full of grilled veggies, the spicy sauce and the creamy burrata in between the toasted bread. A little drippy, but so good when dunked into the soup. I really loved how everything turned out and would happily make it all again.
I made eyes and a nose for my grocery-store bakery sourdough face. ;-)
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
Sourdough is my ninth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the September 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.
The deadline for this round of CTB is TODAY and Debra will be rounding up the entries on the Cook the Books site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for October/November when we'll be reading My Cooking Gene, A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty, hosted by Simona of briciole.
Now, lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen:
Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Carrot Ginger Soup with Lime and said, "Carrot ginger soup is one of my favorites, and now that I can make it in minutes in the Instant Pot it is easier than ever-( of course I included directions for the stove top as well) The bright orange color, the tangy twist of lime and the subtle hint of ginger makes this delightful soup perfect for the beginning of fall. It's definitely a fall day. It's 62 degrees, cloudy, and the leaves are starting to fall. Perfect time to make an easy soup for dinner."
Debra of Eliot's Eats brought Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup and said, "I loved the original version (Eat Drink Man Woman) and the American comedy, Tortilla Soup, that followed in 2001. Honestly, I can’t remember which film I saw first. And most importantly, you see, Tortilla Soup (the recipe not the film) helped me win The Hubs’ heart. ... I posted a recipe for my version of Tortilla Soup recipe way back in 2011 during our soup challenge. So, I guess all the way around, this post is going to be retro to celebrate the 8th Anniversary of Food ‘n Flix!"
Mahalo to Judee and Debra for joining in this week!
About Souper Sundays:
Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.
(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...
To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
- Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
On your entry post (on your blog):
- Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
- You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).
Don't forget to enter my Giveaway to win a copy of the fun historical mystery, The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang. Details here.