Thursday, October 25, 2007

A is for Azerbaijan


Soup is the food that makes itself known in every culture. I'm guessing that soup came to be because there was a shortage of some edibles and a profusion of others... combined they made a "just right" meld of nourishment and flavour.

AZERBAIJAN is a republic at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, and Iran.

The people of Azerbaijan come from a diversity of cultures and the climate zones in the country range through seven of the nine possibilities, from areas where it gets about as cold as it can, to the sub-tropical. In the past, there were many people living past 100, attributed largely to their healthy diet. They ate meat, but usually just small quantities two or three times a week. They used raw honey as a sweetener, and most of their consumption of dairy products came in the form of yogourt. In the former Soviet Union, they were famous for their wonderful fruit and vegetable crops. The Russians introduced a more "western" lifestyle and introduced grains, flour, bread, and sugar into the Azerbaijani diet.

The soup recipe I have chosen is an adaptation of a classic Azerbaijani vegetable soup called Dovga. I am a vegan, but will occasionally eat a little dairy (organic yogourt or butter)and yogourt is a mainstay of the region and its cooking. The recipe on-line contains egg, flour, and mutton, all of which I have left out. The wonderful combination of savoury herbs in this soup make up for any anxiety one might feel around the lack of meat, or for vegans, the inclusion of yogourt.

I have used the Vita-Mix to "heat" the herbs and yogourt, thus preserving the precious enzymes and lactobaccilus. The Vita-Mix "cooks" food through the friction of its high-power motor, moving up to 250 mph! It does not heat above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, so the precious nutrients are not destroyed and the flavours are delightfully blended.

This is not a pristine "RAW VEGAN" meal by any means-- besides the yogourt, I have included a small amount of pre-cooked Quinoa (you can use the classic rice)and topped the soup with organic canned peas (on sale at Edible Island, and cheaper than frozen organic peas). We dipped-- and cleaned up our plates with-- warmed pita bread.

All in all, this soup was a pleasant blend of Russian and Middle Eastern influences. Here is how I put it together:

DOVGA DELIGHT
Cook on the stove:
1/2 C. Quinoa (or Rice)in 1 1/2 C. water. Set aside.

Combine in the Vita-Mix Cannister:
2 Small Yellow Onions, cut up
1 Green Onion, cut up
1 Celery Rib, cut up
2 T. Fresh Mint Leaves
4 T. Fresh Cilentro
2 C. Fresh Spinach Leaves
1/2 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt (or to taste)
Pepper to taste

Position double lid on Vita-Mix securely and whirl above greens, vegetables,and salt/pepper, beginning with Lowest Variable Setting and working gradually up to highest Variable Setting, then flipping over into High, until they are well blended and quite warm (about 4+minutes).

Add:
2 C. Organic Yogourt
3 Heaping Tablespoons of Cooked Quinoa (or Rice)

Blend until smooth and warm.

Pour into bowls and add a couple of tablespoons of cooked organic green peas (or other legumes of choice), to each bowl. Enjoy with a warmed pita.

Related sites:
Alphabet Reversals
Making Sense Of Post-Soviet Alphabet Soup
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1 comment:

Farida said...

Dear Cynthia, I just found your interesting web blog and saw Azerbaijani soup Dovga:) If you are interested in Azerbaijani cooking, please visit my web blog www.azcookbook.com. I am posting recipes with step by step instructions and pictures. Enjoy! Farida