A Feast Menu for the Spring Equinox

Spring Vegetable Soup (Served with Poppy Seed Dinner Rolls)

This soup is full of spring vegetable flavors, yet light and low in fat.

Soup Ingredients:
2 quarts vegetable stock
8 tablespoons yellow miso paste
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1 cup baby carrots, slivered and trimmed to 1” long
1 cup snow peas, sliced thinly and on an angle
24 small shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced

Prepare the garlic, leeks, carrots, peas, mushrooms, parsley, and mint as stated and set to one aside. Bring the stock to simmer in a stockpot whisking in the miso paste. In a medium pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté the garlic and leeks until soft. Add to the stock. Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter and sauté the carrots for 5 minutes and add to the stock. Add the snow peas and mushrooms directly into the stock with the parsley and mint and simmer for 5 minutes.

Vegetable broth is made up of water, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, parsley and pepper. The garlic, bay leaf, and pepper are of fire. The carrots, onion and celery are water of fire, and the parsley is of air. Snow peas are of earth. Miso is made from a particular fungus with fermented soybeans, which are earth of water. It is then made into a paste and reconstituted in water. The butter and Shiitake mushrooms are also of water. Mint is of air, and the leeks and carrots are water of fire. All are very much spring foods.

Poppy Seed Dinner Rolls

This recipe makes buttery, flaky rolls with the crunchy flavor of poppy seeds.

2 envelops active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for the yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs, plus
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups white whole-wheat flour, plus some for the counter to roll out the dough
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened to coat the pans
¼ cup poppy seeds
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for an egg wash

In a medium bowl place the cup of warm water and dissolve the tablespoon of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, stir and let stand for 10 minutes to bloom. In a separate bowl beat the two eggs, milk, the rest of the sugar, and softened butter. Blend in the yeast mixture and add one cup of flour until well blended. Add the salt and the rest of the flour, one cup at a time. Mix well until it forms a smooth ball. Knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and leave to rise for 1 to 1½ hours.

Turn out on to a floured surface and knead the bread for 5 minutes again. Divide into four parts. Work one portion of dough at a time. Roll out to 1/8” thick and cut into long strips about 2” wide. Brush lightly with melted butter and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Position two strips on top of each other, and roll up them like a cinnamon roll. Place them horizontally in a buttered muffin tin to see the spiral. Leave them to rise for 1 hour. Brush the top of the rolls with the butter and water wash, and sprinkle the poppy seeds on top. Bake the rolls in a 350°F. (180ºC.) oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, but wait 5 minutes before removing them from the pan to cool, as the dough is so soft they could partially collapse, until properly cooled.

Butter, eggs and milk are of water, yeast is air of water, flour is air of earth, and sugar is of air. Poppy seeds are also of water. This is due to the character of the latex extracted from the seedpods when the seeds are forming, though none is present in the seeds, themselves.