Hej! Hvordan går det?
Today’s blog post is written by a guest author. Sort of. It’s one half by my friend Kris and one half by me. It’s one soup, but two different versions. You lucky blog readers!
Kris lives in Denmark and we go way back to the 1990s, when we both lived in Nicaragua and attended the American High School there. Being moved to a new country by fate of your parents every couple of years and stuck in the middle of puberty, Kris and I shared many things in common. We were annoyed with our parents. We were annoyed with our uniforms. We were annoyed with convention and with hypocrisy. We were annoyed period. We were also convinced that we could do so much better for ourselves – if we were just some place different. We also shared a passion for politics and for history and for being right in discussions.
Looking back and recalling our hour long conversations on the phone during which we probably did nothing much else other than complain to each other, I have to laugh. It’s so ironic, because the three years I lived in Nicaragua were one of the happiest of my life, even if this was not always clear to me right then and there for sake of being pre-occupied with puberty, uniforms, convention and hypocrisy. Never again have I felt so at home and in the company of true and reliable friends. I think this feeling stems from the fact that all my friends knew each other and were also friends with one another. At college and in working life, I have a lot of wonderful friends, but not many of these friends are also friends with one another, they are spread out all over the place. They move for their jobs or for their significant others, both things I have done, and people are left behind. I think my friends in Nicaragua connected to each other on a whole different level, because all of us had moved around every couple of years and we understood what each of us had gone through ever since we were very young. I think that each of us – in varying degrees – understood we were in the company of a very precious set of people. And – in varying degrees – we were grateful for it. I understand that when you live in one place all of your life, having friends good friends and to have these friends be friends with one another is not a big deal. Like at all. But for us it was. Or at least for me.
It’s only logical that things have changed. It’s over a decade and a half later that we last saw each other, but when I think of our lunches at school or get-togethers at each other’s houses on the weekends and sleep overs during summer, I get very nostalgic and teary-eyed, because I know that I will never again be that young again. I also know that I will have to be very lucky to meet such a group of friends again. I am also no longer foolish enough to believe that the world is waiting for me to fix it or make it better in any way, or that moving places will change things that are in fact merely things that bother yourself about you.
Kris was already quite cynical back in the day, but if we had a competition now, in 2013, I’m pretty sure I’d give him a run for his money. Maybe it’s also age that made Kris soft(er). Anyway, so thanks to Facebook and email, we’ve managed to stay in touch, and when I complained on Facebook the other day that I was freezing in my office and had been for several days, I received a very sweet message from Kris a few days after (when the flu had already caught me and I was spending my days in bed). He wrote:
“Remembered a post you wrote about freezing in your office while I was eating dinner tonight. I’d been a bit cold myself today so had made a soup. Anyways, thought you might enjoy this kind of soup if you’re cold or feel like you’re coming down with something. It’s a fairly simple soup and as far as I know it should be okay for you to eat, but fair warning it’s fairly spicy and should warm you up even if eaten cold the day after as leftovers. Basically I didn’t feel like shopping so made the soup based on what I had in my garden (except for the coconut milk and tahini, which are from my pantry)
Kris’ internal radiator soup
5 cups or so of pumpkin, potatoes or squash
Water or broth to cover
1 large onion or 2 medium onions
400 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon of Tahini
8 garlic cloves
1 medium ginger root (about the 10 cm long)
1 Bhut Jolokia chili pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime juice, cilantro, and toasted peanuts for garnish
Chop the ginger, garlic and Bhut Jolokia (remember to use latex gloves when working with the Jolokia if you are not used to working with hot chilies – yeah it’s one of the hotter chili peppers). Place them at the bottom of a soup pot with the oil and turn on low. While those are sautéing, chop the onion and add it to the pot. While those are softening chop the pumpkin, potato and squash and add them to the pot.
Add enough water or broth to cover the cooking tubers and squash, add the coconut milk, add the tahini, put the lid on the pot, and leave it alone until the pumpkin and potatoes are cooked. (About 45-60 minutes).
In small portions, blend the soup together. If you want a nice shine remember to whisk in some butter (also gives a nice taste). Serve with lime juice, chopped cilantro and toasted peanuts for garnish.
This soup should warm you up nicely and is full of all sorts of lovely goody-ness. And as an added bonus it should be even hotter the following day (I’ll see if that holds true tomorrow)”
So that day for lunch, I made Kris’ soup. Might as well show my sinuses who is the boss, no? But since I was sick and couldn’t go shopping, I made some modifications (and made a smaller portion). It is the wimp version, as I substituted Aji Amarillo with Bhut Jolokia. When I told Kris (who knows about food and cooking, because he was once a professional chef), he explained to “aji’s (there are quite a lot of different ones) are different from the bhut jolokia both in taste and in heat: aji’s range in heat from 30k to 50k SHU whereas jolokia is between 330k and 1,032k SHU, ie 10 to 20 times hotter). He also confirmed that his soup was hotter than the day before. Yeah, maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t have any Bhut Jolokia in the house. I do like a spicy meal, but I’m also a wimp.
Mari’s internal radiator soup for wimps
½ middle-sized Hokkaido pumpkin (chopped)
2 small potatoes (chopped)
1 zucchini (sliced)
1 tsp allspice
four garlic cloves
200 ml coconut milk
1 tbsp tahini
2 tsp aji amarillo paste
1 hazelnut-size piece of butter
mint and basil for garnish
Fry the garlic and the shallots in the vegetable oil, add the allspice and the aji amarillo. Add the pumpkin, the potatoes and the zucchini are softening chop the pumpkin, potato and squash and add them to the pot. Add enough water or broth to cover vegetables, add the coconut milk, add the tahini, put the lid on the pot, and boil gently until the pumpkin and potatoes are cooked (about 45-60 minutes).
Serve with the chopped mint and basil leaves on top.
I really enjoyed this soup. It was hot and comforting, frothy and creamy and it helped my cold to go away. I loved the idea of adding coconut milk to soups and making them vegan and I’m sure I will be doing a lot of this during the upcoming winter. I also enjoyed having “a moment” with an old friend, even if it was just in our separate kitchens a thousand kilometres apart and courtesy of modern technology.
Tak en hej hej!