As a Norwegian, I’m a huge fan of bread, and love experimenting with different dough recipes. Although bread recipes are often similar, I love seeing how other cultures have different spins on their versions.
With St. Patrick’s Day coming up soon, I made a bunch of different Irish inspired recipes the other day while I was snapping for a Norwegian snapchat account, Vegansnappen, and one of the dishes I was happiest with was the soda bread paired with a delightfully orange carrot soup. The complete dish ended up being the colors of the Irish flag, and I wish I could take credit for being so clever, but a friend of mine brought it up once she saw the picture. If you love colorful food, this blost post is for you!
What I like about both the bread and the soup is that they are simple recipes, made with ingredients that are readily available in the country where the dish is from. I’m a huge fan of cooking seasonally and with local ingredients as much as possible. Same goes for when I do my pairings; I love the saying “what grows together goes together” – it can bring an authentic feeling to the whole experience of enjoying a meal, while sipping and biting into what you’ve made.
But back to my soda bread: This is such a simple, quick and different way of making bread, in that the dough requires baking soda instead of yeast. This will give it a different texture and look, but flavorful and satisfying nonetheless. I decided to add a little baking powder as well to lighten the dough and texture a bit, and a touch of sugar to bring the other flavors out, but you don’t need to. More importantly though, I wanted to bring an extra touch of “Ireland” to the bread and make the dough green, and I did so using spinach. No food coloring or weird powders needed – use what mother earth grows naturally, it really is so rewarding!
I’ve also included my recipe for the carrot soup in this post, simply because I feel the soda bread should have a worthy companion. It’s the simplest soup you could ever make, but will taste and look impressive enough where people will wonder how you did it (it can be our little secret!).
Go ahead – dive into the recipe and embrace your inner Irish!
GREEN IRISH SODA BREAD
200 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
200 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
2 tbsp granulated organic sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp vegan butter (optional)
1 cup (2.5 dl) nondairy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 packed cups (about 125g) spinach
sunflower seeds, rolled oats for topping
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit / 210 degrees Celsius. Prepare a sheet tray with either parchment paper or line with a silpat.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl, and if using the butter, knead the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands. Set aside.
Add the non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar and spinach in the bowl of a blender, and puree until smooth. Reserve 1 tbsp of the liquid for brushing the top of the loaves, and add the rest to the dry ingredients. Combine with a wooden spoon, and shape into a loaf with your hands.
Divide the loaf into 3 smaller loaves about 12-15 cm (6 inches) in length. Place them on the prepared tray. Using a sharp knife, cut an “X” into each loaf, brush them lightly with the remaining spinach-milk mixture and sprinkle seeds/oats on top if you want.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until bottoms have a ‘hollow’ sound when knocking on them with your knuckles. Remove from oven and cool on rack while you make the soup!
IRISH CARROT SOUP
2 tbsp vegan butter
1 small red or sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 large carrots (approximately 1 lb or 500 g), cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces
4 medium potatoes, or approximately 1/2 lb (250g), cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces
5 cups (1.2 l) vegetable stock
1 cup (250ml) cashew cream*
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, pepper to taste
Freshly chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
In a large soup pan, heat the vegan butter, add the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion with a pinch of kosher salt and saute for another 2-3 minutes until it starts to soften. Throw in the carrots and potatoes along with the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Puree the soup in batches by ladling it into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan, add a little over half of the cashew cream and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle soup into bowls and drizzle with the remaining cashew cream and top with chopped cilantro if desired. Serve with your Irish soda bread – and a Guinness if that’s your speed!
EASY CASHEW CREAM
1 cup (250 ml) raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1 cup (250 ml) filtered water
Blend cashews with water in a high speed blender for several minutes until creamy and smooth. Pour into an airtight container, place in fridge for an hour or so to let thicken a bit. Keeps for 3-4 days.