Even if you don’t drink socially yourself, you can enhance your thrifty campus or apartment cooking with the world’s bewildering array of fermented beverages.
On the other hand, if you are a regular imbiber, do you know all the ways to include the fruit of the vintners and distiller’s arts (perhaps leftover in your refrigerator) in your food? In this series, we’ll offer tips for alcohol-enriched dishes literally from soup to nuts.
To wit, many soups, especially from legumes, benefit from a last-minute addition of a dollop of sherry or vermouth. Canned soups, especially, wake up and lose that tinned taste with last-minute splashes of sherry.
If you are not allowed, for religious or health reasons, to have alcohol, drive off the intoxicating part of the fortified wine with a few minutes of cooking before serving.
Here is a useful general rule to create many different bean soups, made in a slow cooker or stove-top (of course – with alcohol):
Although more than the bag directions call for, this strategy averts stuck/burned beans if you are detained/distracted while chatting someone up – invite them for dinner!
When tooth-soft, drain and retain any wildly excessive cooking water.
At this point, your soup is delicious, but more seasonings will add interest and endless variety! Consider the basic flavor combinations of your own culture, or cheerfully steal someone else’s, e.g.:
Add something fragrantly alcoholic before ladling triumphantly.
This recipe is cheaper than anything except dumpster diving. The addition of a cooked whole grain, e.g., brown rice, barley, spelt, or kamut, added at the end, transforms this into a complete protein, congruent with vegetarian, halal, and kosher diets as well. The sherry/vermouth, even with the alcohol evanesced, adds a marvellously sophisticated touch.
Other soups such as pumpkin also ‘pop’ with a dose of sherry/vermouth. Pumpkin soup is cheap and super nutritious. Assemble it easily with canned unsweetened pumpkin, chicken stock, and sautéed onion/garlic. The addition of frozen or canned corn, and some sautéed, roasted, grilled or blackened red bell pepper makes it truly gorgeous. Season with Mexican aromatics, such cumin and coriander, add the sherry, and swirl decoratively with a bit of cream. Alternatively, add ginger, soy, and a bit of lemon for an Asian flair.
Stay tuned for more ideas to use your booze in your gourmet, thrifty food!