Saffron and Ginger Kabocha Soup with Black Salt and Sesame Seeds

I made this when I was visiting family in California and found some fun ingredients in the pantry.  Stuff like crystallized ginger, this World Salt Tower and black sesame seeds.  Not to mention an excellent spice selection and hyper local produce from New Leaf Community Market in Half Moon Bay.

Warm and hearty, this soup tastes like a decadent cream soup, but is actually more of a detox soup in that there is no dairy, little oil and is lightly spiced.  You’ll also get lots of carotenoids (great for the eye health) from the squash and extra minerals from the black Cyprus salt, which is Mediterranean sea salt mixed with volcanic charcoal, a natural detoxifier.

Serves 6

What you need:

1 kabocha squash (about 2.5 pounds), halved and deseeded

2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil

1/3 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks

1 stalk celery, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 small (4-inch diameter) celeriac (a.k.a. celery root), peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes

3 cups chicken broth or light vegetable stock

pinch saffron

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

To serve:

crystallized ginger, very fine dice

black sesame seeds

black Cyprus salt

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Rub kabocha flesh with olive oil or avocado oil and place cut sides down on parchment.  Pour orange juice into pan and place in oven.  Roast for about 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the skin and flesh.  Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium sauce pot, sauté the ginger, onion, celery and garlic in the coconut oil, along with the salt, over medium heat.  Stir frequently to prevent browning.  Once the onions are translucent, add the celeriac, broth, saffron and remaining spices.  Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and add to the soup.  Raise heat to high, bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Ensure that the celeriac is fork tender and turn off the heat.  If time permits, allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  Put contents in blender, working in batches if your blender is small, and blend on high (though starting at LOW) until silky smooth.  Return to pot and rewarm over low heat, adding water if necessary.  Adjust for salt, keeping in mind that you will be topping with black salt just before serving.

To serve, ladle soup into warmed bowls and top with crystallized ginger (they will sink), black sesame seeds and a few flakes of black Cyprus salt.

White Bean and Celeriac Stew with Meyer Lemon

Usually stews are gray and mushy, but this is nice and bright and all of the vegetables retain their shape.  The reason it’s not a pile of mush is that everything is cooked in “layers”, which helps control the result of each component.  Meyer lemon is a hybrid of lemon and mandarin orange, so it is much milder and sweeter than regular lemon.  If you can’t get your hands on Meyer lemon, then use regular lemon, but only use about half the amount so that the lemon flavor doesn’t overpower the entire dish.

I was introduced to celeriac (celery root) recently through culinary school and this is my first time cooking with it.  It’s a less caloric/starchy substitute for potato and is more flavorful, as it offers a hint of celery.

Remember to save the bean cooking liquid! It is very flavorful and the starches released by the beans lend the stew the body that vegetable or chicken broth won’t be able to offer.

4-6 servings


1 1/2 cups great northern beans, soaked for 12 hours

1 tablespoon kosher salt

4 large cloves garlic (peels kept on)

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1 yellow onion, medium dice

1 large shallot, cut into thirds lengthwise and then thinly sliced

6 oz cremini mushrooms, medium dice

1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 pound penne pasta (brown rice version is a good gluten free alternative)

1 Meyer lemon, quartered

red pepper flakes, to serve

sheep’s milk feta, freshly crumbled, to serve

What to do:

Drain and rinse the beans.  Put beans in a large pot (I used enamel-coated cast iron) with enough water to cover two inches above level of the beans.  Stir in kosher salt and unpeeled garlic cloves.  Cover and bring water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, turn heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the sun-dried tomato pieces and continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until beans are tender and creamy.

While beans are cooking, prep vegetables and set aside.  Next, fill a medium pot with water and a large pinch of salt for the pasta.  Bring water to a boil.

Once the beans are cooked, strain them, while reserving cooking liquid.  Set both aside.

In the same pot that was used to cook the beans, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add shallot and onion.  Sauté lightly for about five minutes, until they are just beginning to brown.  Add mushrooms and celeriac, season with black pepper and add about a cup of the bean cooking liquid.  Cover, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

The water for the pasta should be boiling at this point.  Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, until al dente.  Do not overcook!  Err on the side of undercooked, as liquid will be added to it at the end and some of it will get absorbed by the pasta.

Once the vegetables have simmered for about 10 minutes, stir in the chard, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta lightly and quickly and then toss back into the pot with 1/2 a cup of bean cooking liquid and an optional drizzle of oil.

Check the vegetables for doneness and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, layer each bowl with pasta, beans, vegetables and additional bean broth, if desired.  Top with a crumble of feta and a the juice of a lemon quarter.  Serve with red pepper flakes on the side.

White Bean and Celeriac Stew with Meyer Lemon - The Clean Gourmet

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