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Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup

If you are from, well... most of the world, you are probably wondering what that first word in my title is! :) Here is a bit of definition from Wiki and then I'll tell you my story...

Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract. It is a spread for sandwiches, toast, crumpets and cracker biscuits, and filling for pastries. It is similar to British, New Zealand, and South African Marmite, Australian (US owned) Promite, and to Swiss Cenovis.

Vegemite is made from used brewers' yeast extract, a by-product of beer manufacturing, and various vegetable and spice additives. It is salty, slightly bitter, and umami or malty — similar to beef bouillon. The texture is smooth and sticky. It is not as intensely flavoured as British Marmite and it is less sweet than the New Zealand version of Marmite.

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup 2

Now that you have the context, let me lay it out there by saying, I quite did not take to it. It has a very pungent yeasty smell and flavor and the idea of eating it as a spread just abhorred me. In my defense, I gave it a go twice, but I never took to it. You must wonder why I have it in my pantry then.

Lovely Julia had given it to me as a welcome gift when I visited her at Brisbane last year along with chocolate gummy bears and yummy Tim Tams. Of course, the latter two were quickly consumed but the Vegemite travelled all the way back and since then has been hibernating in my pantry.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, lingered a thought that there must be another way to consume it and the answer was given to me by Ellie in her wonderful creation of Vegemite Chicken. Ok, it did take me a while to be inspired but this dish was just perfect.

Vegemite Lamb and Black Beans with Mushroom Soup 1

I marinated the lamb in a mixture of vegemite, molasses, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. The molasses blunts the pungence of the yeast extract and soothes its sharpness while the Worcestershire sauce enhances the salty umami of the marinade. Shallow fried with black beans it makes for a deep and complex accompaniment to a simple yet earthy mushroom and carrot soup.

Vegemite and Molasses Lamb and Black Beans

1 T Vegemite
2 T molasses
2 T malt vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

1/2 can black beans
1/4 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cubed

Combine the marinade ingredients and coat the lamb pieces in the mixture. Set at room temperature for atleast 30 minutes. If you are marinating for longer, refrigerate.

In a shallow frying pan, heat some oil and transfer the lamb along with the marinade. Add the beans and cook on low until the lamb is cooked adding as little water as possible.

Serve over the soup.

Mushroom and Carrot Soup
(Serves 2)

1 lb portebello mushrooms, stalks removed and cubed
1 small onion, diced fine
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
2 sweet carrots, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1.5 cups stock
1/4 cup light cream
salt and pepper as needed
1/4 cup white wine (optional)

Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in little oil. Do not add the salt now. Add the mushroom pieces and brown. Pick some of the mushroom pieces and reserve for garnish. De-glaze the pan with wine, if using.

Add the carrots along with the salt, pepper and paprika. Saute for a few minutes, add half the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the carrots are cooked adding a bit more stock if needed.

Puree the mixture, return to the pan and add the remaining stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Gently stir in the cream and cook for a couple of minutes.

To serve, divide soup into bowls, top with reserved mushroom cubes and the lamb and beans saute.

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