Cookbook Tester–Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Table


Samuelsson’s vegetable soup

Last week, we brought you a recipe from Marcus Samuelsson’s first book, The Soul of a New Cuisine. Samuelsson, of Aquavit, has a new cookbook coming out this October called New American Table. The new book is quite different from the first, which focused on the flavors of Africa. Instead, New American Table is concerned with modern cookery in the U.S.–recipes are free to draw on flavors and ingredients from around the world. No orthodoxy, just food that Samuelsson and the people he knows like making at home. So we get dishes like tamarind-glazed ham with anchovy-potato gratin, and miso-rubbed rack of lamb with broccoli rabe red curry, along with turkey meatloaf and spaghetti with peas.

Last night, we checked out one of the simpler recipes in the book, which Samuelsson calls My Veggie Soup. The recipe calls for an appealing combo of chiles, miso and soy sauce, along with spinach, tomatoes and orzo. It’s meant to be a restorative, light vegetarian meal.

This is a good recipe, but we found that because the soup calls for water rather than broth, to make a flavorful soup we needed to triple the amounts of miso, mirin and soy sauce, and double the amount of chile powder. If you make the dish, follow it as written through the additions of the miso, mirin and soy sauce, stir, taste it, and then a teaspoon more of each of those ingredients until it is to your liking. Don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe–as long as you keep tasting the soup, you can’t ruin it. On the other hand, if you want a really mild, austere broth, the recipe as written will probably work for you.

My Veggie Soup
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Recipe from New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson

1/2 cup orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon mild chile powder
1 (3-inch) piece ginger
2 green Anaheim chiles
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups baby spinach
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil

In a medium pot, bring 3 cups salted water to a boil. Add the orzo, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Strain, and set aside.

In the same pot, over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, chile powder, ginger, chiles, garlic, and mustard seeds, and saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, season with the salt and white pepper, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the miso, mirin, and soy sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, basil and orzo, and simmer until heated through.