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NATIVE AMERICAN ACORN SOUP - CALIFORNIA TRIBES AND BANDS OF INDIANS
Acorns were a staple for the Yokut and Miwok tribes of Native Americans of Central California as well as many different bands of those tribes. The nut of the Oak tree, especially the black and blue oak varieties were prized by Native Americans for their use in soups, mush, and flour. A time consuming leeching process to rid the acorn of the bitter tannins in the acorns was the drawback for this nutritious and plentiful food supply. There was a hot water process of leaching the tannins out as well as a cold water process. The hot water method is known to leach out the starch of the acorn as well as the tannins. This is not beneficial as the starch acts as a gluten such as found in in wheat flour. This gluten is what gives the flour substance and holds the flour together. Using cold water is a more time consuming process, but retains starch and is thus a better flour.
ACORN SOUP - CALIFORNIA NATIVE AMERICAN - YOKUT/MIWOK
DIRECTIONS FOR PREPARING ACORNS INTO EDIBLE USE FOR SOUP.:
1. Carefully select a bucket full of acorns in the Fall when they are dropping on the ground under your favorite black, blue or Valley oak. Make sure the acorn shells are intact
and extra sure a worm or some other varmint has not invaded the acorn. Native Americans cherished the acorn so much that they gathered and stored them in the hundreds
of pounds. Gathering a bucket full of them for this recipe is probably more an intensive project than it is worth, but you can always say you tried.
2. Crack your acorns into a bucket of water, then extract them from the shells into a large bowl of water. Keep the acorns under water helps preserve their light color. Acorns
are quick to oxidize and will turn dark easily. The soup you will be making should be a tan color.
3. Fill a blender half full with acorns and cover with fresh water. Process them, until you have what looks like a coffee colored milkshake.
4. Pour the mixture into a large ½ gallon to 1 gallon jar about halfway up, and top off with more water. Close the had with a lid and shake it up. Place the jar in the frefrigerator.
5. Every day for about 5 days, pour off all the water and replace with fresh water, shake well and set back in the refrigerator. You’re done when the acorns have little taste and
are not bitter. The blue oak acorns took a week.
6. Now you need to dry the very wet flour. Start by pouring everything into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Gather up the pulp into the cheesecloth and squeeze it to extract
as much water as you can.
7. Now spread the still-damp flour evenly on a large rimmed cookie sheet. Break up any clumps. Blue oaks have a lot of oil in them, and you will get an “acorn butter,” a very light,
clay-like substance that you can incorporate into the flour. It has a lot of flavor. It has a tendency to clump a lot, so be sure you break the butter up into as of fine particles as
8. Put the cookie sheet in an oven set on “warm”, about 100℉ Don’t get the heat higher than that. You can use a food dehydrator, but keep your eye on that as well..
9. Finally, you need to grind the dried flour one more time. Use a heavy duty coffee grinder, spice grinder or food processor. Process the flour into a fine powder, (less than a minute).
Store the flour in the refrigerator or the freezer. Acorn flour will get rancid very quickly.
10. Making acorn flour is a very labor intensive exercise so take your time and do it right.
INGREDIENTS: SERVES 4 - 6
• 3 cups acorn bits (leached and dried) (Can use fresh or canned chestnuts if acorns are not available)
• 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 2 ounces of dried shitakè, or porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup of hot water
• 2 laurel or leaves
• ¼ cup hard cider •
• 1 quart chicken, beef, mushroom or vegetable stock
• ½ teaspoon cayenne
• ½ cup creme fraiche, greek style yogurt or sour cream
• Roasted Pinion pine nuts for garnish
1. Soak the mushrooms in the hot water for an hour before starting.
2. Heat the butter in a soup pot over medium-high heat and sautè the carrot, celery and onion for 3-4 minutes. add the mushrooms and acorn bits and stir to combine. Sautè
for another 5 minutes.
3. Add the apple cider and boil until it is almost all evaporated then add the bay leaves, mushroom soaking water and the stock. Bring to a simmer.
4. Add Kosher salt to taste
5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. **SEE COOK'S NOTE**
COOKS NOTE* Some prefer straining the soup at this point.
6. Before serving, turn off the heat and mix in the creme fraiche, yogurt or sour cream. You can substitute regular cream if you don’t like the acidity of the others.
7. Garnish with the pine nuts and some chopped parsley if desired.