About a week ago a fellow blogger posted a recipe that totally intrigued me. The recipe was called Kale & Roasted Vegetable Soup and I knew immediately I’d have to try it because 1) I love kale, 2) I love roasted veggies, and 3) I LOVE soup!
I read her recipe and thought to myself, what the heck is a rutabaga?! I mean, I’m aware of the concept of a rutabaga, but I’ve never actually seen one, let alone tasted one. I figure it must be some mainland U.S. vegetable and that I would have to get native on this recipe (just the way I like it ).
I started by searching the farmer’s market for fresh fruit/veg that would work in the soup. There are typically more than enough people selling kale but last Saturday there was no kale to be found! I took it as a sign from the Universe to use chard – which happens to be one of my most favorite veggies ever due to its phenomenal nutritional profile anyway.
I then picked up some sweet potatoes. We don’t have many “yams” or orange sweet potatoes here in Hawai‘i because we have native ‘uala and Okinawan sweet potatoes (which are purple). Every week I get my Oki sweets from this older Japanese couple who always give me a rose too. They make me happy.
But I digress…
After I got my sweet potatoes I thought about what I could substitute for the rutabaga. I first thought of using kabocha because there’s quite an abundance of it right now, but decided that the soup would be too sweet with sweet potato and pumpkin. Then I considered rutabaga’s profile, which (as research tells me) is a starchy root veggie, and decided to go with the native alternative to a starchy root veggie: ‘ulu [breadfruit]!
“‘Ulu is believed to contain the strength and mana of Kū, the god of war, who is the protector of all plants in the forest, and a guardian in all work and sickness, and is embodied in tall trees.”
Aside from its cultural significance, ‘ulu is a great low-fat source of complex carbs, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. Although the consistency and nutritional profile make ‘ulu seem like a starchy vegetable, it’s actually a fruit that grows on a tree. Oh, and did I mention the fact that it’s much larger than a potato?
‘Ulu’s in season right now so I was pretty stoked to be making soup with it! You prepare it in the same manner you would a potato (steam, bake, sauté). I made sure to get one that was still pretty solid for a potato-like texture. We decided to cube and bake the entire ‘ulu and – since we only needed about half the ‘ulu for this recipe – ate half as ‘ulu fries. They were so good that Ben ate too many and got a sore stomach!
I also got some Maui onions (ah the perks of living on Maui ) as well as garlic from the farmer’s market. Lucky for us, a friend gave us a few avocados from his tree that day too!
Of course, the entire soup isn’t local – although I could have made my own veggie broth I used low-sodium bouillon cubes, and the black beans sure as heck aren’t from anywhere around here – but the majority of main ingredients are local, super fresh and full of flavor!
I wasn’t sure what to think of the soup when I first saw it, but trust me, this soup is amazing. Simple (the most time-consuming part is prepping and roasting), tasty, packed with nutrition, and so perfect for this time of year!
Local Soup with Black Beans
- 3 medium Okinawan sweet potatoes
- 1/2 medium ‘ulu
- 3 small Maui onions
- 3 Tbsp olive oil separated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 c vegetable broth (it’s still super thick with even this much – you may want to add more)
- 1 large bunch of chard
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp coriander
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- Hawaiian salt n’ peppa to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
[Prep the veggies]: Peel the ‘ulu (some say you can eat the skin like potato skin but I was too lazy to clean off the sap) and discard the center.
Cube sweet potato and ‘ulu (we made about 3/4’’ cubes because I am the most impatient chef ever and thought they would roast quicker that way) and quarter onions.
Toss all the veggies in 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes (stirring at the 20 minute mark until they’re tender and brown).
In a pot, sauté the garlic in remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
Add the roasted veggies, veggie broth and spices and bring it all to a boil (the roasted veggies shrunk in the oven and then soaked up tons of moisture once we put them in the soup).
Add in the chard and cover the pot for at least five minutes to let the chard wilt (it’ll seem like it’s overflowing but that’s totally normal).
Add black beans and heat through.
Top with avocado (totally recommended) and scoop into the gorgeous bowl Mama C. (mom-in-law) hand-made for us.
Enjoy! Makes 8 hearty servings.
Although the black beans are one of the only non-local ingredients in this recipe, they add a great source of vegetarian protein, which rounds out the soup well. I’ve seriously been addicted to this recipe and have eaten it for multiple meals in the past few days! It is definitely going to be a staple in our home from now on, especially during these chillier winter months.