As I approach the official end of the elimination phase of my dietary investigations, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to notice that this time has featured a rediscovery of some of my childhood foods. Many of these reflect that I didn’t grow up with a vegetable focussed diet, but I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed returning to rice congee (made with real chicken stock), shredded chicken and carrot soup with glass noodles, and a chicken, macaroni and vegetable soup. These were part of my Mum’s repertoire of simple, nourishing Indonesian-Chinese staples that our family grew up with. Since very few asian flavours are permitted by my restricted diet (ie no soy, ginger, miso, chilli etc), I’ve enjoyed these nostalgic meals even more.
But I have tried to keep faith where possible with our present family’s vege-centred food. This has met with varied success. A few dishes I reported on in the last post have had several good re-runs, but notable dissapointments included my trial of diet-friendly mayonnaise (an alchemical test as olive oil and lemon juice are not permitted) and pear chutney (featuring tinned pears and citric acid!). I had a breakthrough though when I realised that since fresh cheese is permitted, I could therefore eat goats cheese! Hooray! Here’s what worked in the past two weeks:
- roasted beetroot and goats cheese frittata
- roasted sweet potato and red lentil soup, with goats cheese and chives
- apple sponge pudding (pictured, based on Johanna’s recipe)
- tapioca pudding (from 101 cookbooks)
I was really happy with the sweet potato soup, especially the gorgeous orange colour that the soup retains because the sweet potatoes are roasted whole in their skins. That way, only the skins darken and the flesh stays bright and pure. (Also, if you don’t have time to roast the sweet potatoes, I think you could get a pretty good result by just chopping up the uncooked potatotes and adding them with the stock. ) So: hooray for goats cheese, which has been the flavour saviour of the past week!
Roasted sweet potato and red lentil soup with goats cheese
1.5kg sweet potatoes (about 3 medium)
1 leek, finely sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup red lentils
1.5 L stock (I used chicken stock, but for a vege version use chicken-style powder)
50g fresh goats cheese
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper (this is essential as lots of very sticky juice oozes out during baking!), and place whole unpeeled sweet potatoes on it. Bake for about an hour, until the potatoes feel soft when you poke a fork into them. Cut in half with a knife and allow to cool slightly.
In a large soup pot, saute the leek and garlic on low heat until softened but not coloured (about 8 minutes). Scoop out the sweet potato flesh and add to the pot, and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil. Take off the heat and puree with a hand blender. Return to the heat, add in the lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils have broken down. You might need to add more liquid at this stage, according to the consistency you are after. Season well.
Serve into bowls, with the goats cheese and chives on top.
Serves: 4-6 as a main.