Thursday, October 9, 2014

Playing with Pairings: Meatless Monday

Every once in awhile I like to indulge in a vegetarian meal, and Meatless Monday is always a great way to integrate this into dinnertime. This week we had an influx of fresh carrots given to us by our neighbours. I decided to make a soup I have in one of my old cookbooks, called "This Food, That Wine". It's a great cookbook full of recipes that come with recommended wine pairings, and contains write-ups on the major grape varietals, their flavour profiles, and other bits of information.

Click here for more information and to buy the book.

Carrot & Cumin Soup, from "This Food, That Wine"

Serves 6, level of difficulty - easy

6 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

2 teaspoons (10ml) whole cumin seeds (quickly toasted in a skillet until fragrant,) ground in a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder

3 Tablespoons (45ml) canola oil

Salt and a few drops of tabasco

1 cup (250ml) white wine*

4 cups (1 litre) chicken or vegetable broth brought to a boil

Chopped fresh chives (optional garnish)

Sour Cream or Crème Fraiche (optional garnish)

1. In a heavy bottomed soup pot warm up your oil over medium heat. Add your onions and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.

2. Add your carrots, garlic and ground cumin seeds to the pot with the salt and tabasco. Cook this all gently for about 20 minutes giving it a good stir now and then.

3. Add the wine and turn up the heat to bring the wine to a boil.

4. Pour in your hot stock and simmer until the carrots are really tender which should take around 10 minutes.

5. In a blender or food processor, blend the soup until it’s really smooth and creamy. I find it works best if you put the chunks of veg in first and add the stock to blend.

6. You can put your soup through a fine mesh strainer here or leave it a bit more rustic, totally up to you.

7. Serve the soup hot in warmed bowls with a swirl of sour cream and some chopped fresh chives.
As usual, I decided to play with the original recipe. After sweating the onions and garlic in oil, I added 1tbsp of smoky paprika to add more depth of flavour. Because I had no celery, I substituted celery salt for regular table salt. And because I prefer my soups more rustic, I spent less time pureeing the soup in the blender. Make sure you use a dry white wine with noticeable acidity as opposed to an off-dry or sweet one in the recipe. The carrots already add a sweetness; an off-dry wine would make the soup too sweet. We served the soup with caesar salad and spinach & feta "puffs" to round out our Meatless Monday meal!

Recommended Wine Match – Pinot Gris

I love this pairing because the floral aromas in Pinot Gris really highlight the fragrant cumin in the soup. The other important thing is choosing a wine that has enough body, and this wine works beautifully, with its smooth texture and fresh shot of acidity. Be sure to choose a Pinot GRIS, not a Grigio which would be too light. Viognier would be another great choice for this soup.

Since I was playing with the recipe, I decided to try a different pairing this time-I chose the Summerhill Ehrenfelser, 2013 vintage. I have always enjoyed Summerhill's Ehrenfelser; it was one of the first wines that I really enjoyed and would buy on a regular basis, even before I started my WSET journey.

Summerhill's 2013 Ehrenfelser has all the aromatics of a Gewurztraminer, without the oily texture. Notes of honeysuckle, lychee, pear and apricot preclude a spicy ginger finish. Off dry and expressive, with fresh acidity and a hint of effervescence. It pairs well with sushi, tempura, and spiced popcorn, but I also enjoyed it with the soup.

Other Canadian wines that would pair well with this soup include:

Mission Hill's Reserve Pinot Gris
Church & State's Trebella: Viognier, Marsanne & Roussanne White Blend
Cave Springs Riesling

Although I will never become a full-fledged vegetarian or vegan because I love meat too much, I do believe in expanding my cooking skills to all styles of cuisines. Wine pairings are never limited, just as I will never limit myself in the kitchen. My husband has challenged me to cook a bunch of new recipes using dried red lentils I purchased awhile ago, so stay tuned for some more vegetarian recipes and wine pairings!