I know that this statement may have me burned at the stake but here it goes…I am somewhat leery of all the gluten-intolerants out there. This cynicism is likely a reflection of my ignorance or maybe even my own lack of body-awareness. I am sure that there are people who are truly allergic to gluten but it seems to me that this massive wave of phobia might just be another craze fueled by a multi-million dollar specialty foods industry. As a home cook/hostess/entertainer I try to honor all food aversions (admittedly I have my own quirks), so despite my skepticism I set off on a mission.
A substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.
Seems innocent enough, so when my gluten-free mother-in-law and sister-in-law come to visit, as they did this past weekend, I attempt to dazzle them with gluten-free delights. I stock up on Rice Chex cereal (box remains unopened), various types of gluten-free crackers (there’s even a brand called Glutino), gluten-free bread (dense as a brick but won rave reviews), tortilla chips, etc. I make homemade humus (not that humus isn’t naturally gluten-free but since my in-laws love it with their tortilla chips, I go the extra mile), pea spread, double chocolate cookies (gluten-free, meringue-like treasures), a big bowl of salad to chip away at throughout the weekend and a nice, cherry red, Le Creuset pot of Carrot-Miso Soup.
Admittedly, I have been a huge fan of miso for quite some time. I can almost guarantee that any recipe featuring miso will make its way into my recipe file and become a personal favorite soon thereafter. My Edamame Miso Dip has become the stuff of legends (more on that in a subsequent post). Sweet Potato Miso Soup was not an obvious pairing but is now the first soup I make when the weather turns (replacing the Lentil Soup that was my longstanding intro to Fall). Miso Glazed Eggplant, Salmon with Miso, Miso Salad Dressing…the list goes on.
But strangely enough, when I pulled my Carrot-Miso Soup recipe to make for my gluten-free relatives, I learned that miso is not gluten-free. Go figure! My first thought was, “Will they know?” How horrible is that? My second thought was, “How odd that the introduction to a soup recipe would even bother to mention the glutenous attributes of miso.” I mean, I wasn’t cooking from a gluten-free cookbook. And my last thought was relief when I read on to learn that there are gluten-free misos out there (Eden Organics makes a shiso miso that is gluten-free). I am sure that by this point you don’t trust me but I did search out the gluten-free miso and whipped up a batch of this tasty soup.
The soup was a hit with the gluten-frees and the gluten-lovers alike. My 7-year-old thought it tasted like the Japanese salad dressing he so adores and my in-laws left with a copy of the recipe. But here’s the kicker…the biggest hit of the weekend was the 70’s style, bacon-wrapped crackers that I made to bring to a party we attended. Completely NOT gluten-free which was fully disclosed. And guess who downed the first dozen? My lips are sealed but let’s just say, this gluten allergy does not appear to be fatal.
Following are both recipes, which are good anytime but if you choose to make them this weekend, the Carrot Soup will serve as a perfect counter to the chili at your Super Bowl party and the Bacon Crackers are guaranteed to be the first hors d’oeuvre to disappear. Loved by kids and adults, alike–gluten-intolerant or just plain ole tolerant!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 regular or 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated ginger, or more to taste (it could easily be doubled)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup white miso paste, or more to taste (gluten-free: look for one without barley, such as Eden Shiso Miso)
- Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
- 2 scallions, very thinly sliced
- Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic sauté until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add broth and ginger. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender when pierced, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
- Puree soup in batches in blender, or all at once with an immersion blender. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso an a half-cup of the soup. Stir the mixture back into the pot of soup. If the consistency is too thick add water and stir to incorporate (could add as much as two cups). Taste the soup and season with salt, pepper or additional miso to taste.
- Ladle into bowls and garnish each with a drizzle of sesame oil and small mound of scallions.
- 1 package of Club Crackers
- 1 lb thin-sliced bacon (entire package cut in half, vertically)--or more depending on how many crackers
- grated Parmesan cheese*
- Preheat over to 250F and prepare a baking sheet with a wire rack set on top.
- Mound a heaping teaspoon of cheese on top of each cracker (you may want to set the cheese-topped crackers on a separate baking sheet as you prepare the batch).
- Then, carefully wrap each cheese-topped cracker with the half-slice of bacon, trying not to spill the cheese and to snugly wrap the cracker from end-to-end.
- Place the bacon wrapped cracker on the sheet with the wire rack.
- When you have finished assembling, place pan in the oven (or "pans" as I tend to prepare 2lbs of bacon at one--that's how popular these things are) and bake for approximately 2 hours.
- The bacon should be fully cooked and the cracker slightly curled when they a finished.
- And the best part...if you can manage to squirrel these away before your family smells the bacon, you can freeze them in a zip-lock bag for later use. Just rewarm in the oven or warming drawer before serving.
- *These also can be made by replacing the Parmesan cheese with brown sugar. Dangerous, I know!