Monday, February 15, 2016

Green Soup

Sometimes when you're sad, you have no appetite. And when you do eat something, it just crumbles in your mouth with a texture and taste like sawdust. Overall, food is just unappealing.

You may have a group to commiserate with, depending on the situation, but that certainly has both good and bad points. Camaraderie if you don't really care how you look vs. don't-make-eye-contact-or-you-won't-keep-your-composure.
Your call.

Though, to me, soup can be entirely different when it comes to foods at times like these (or at the very least a more palatable choice). Soup is good for sadness. It is in a way comforting on it's own, especially if it's of the warm and creamy persuasion. And if it has a little kick, there's a bit of liveliness and a different warmth that you're not entirely able to ignore.

I like soup, no matter what, but there are times that soup as a dish is imminently appropriate, and totally fits the bill. It seems nothing else will do.

I'm now thinking that soup would be best following funerals, especially funerals on snowy days.

This is a soup I've made a couple times in the past couple weeks.
One that I initially put together late one afternoon knowing I didn't want to go back out that day and that I could figure something out after going through a well-stocked fridge.
I'm glad I took notes because I enjoyed it (and frankly, it seems the other eaters were ok with it, too).

"Green Soup" has variety of vegetables, can be whipped up in less than an hour, is a springy shade of green, and is good for you and tastes pretty good, too. It has a velvety texture, and while the recipe as written calls for a touch of light cream, it's entirely unnecessary and you could make this and end up with a "creamy" vegan soup. You wouldn't even miss the cream. 

If you like, serve with a bit of grated cheese- cheddar and Parmesan are really nice for their zing.

And as another note or two before we move on to the recipe: most of it is estimation of vegetable size. I don't call for much weights and measures here. So, because this is the case (volume inexactitude), you'll have to play some of it by ear and likely end up with a slightly different soup each time. Start with the 6 cups of stock, and add more (or make that extra a cup of water) if necessary to thin it out. However, you may want to wait until closer to the end of cooking time to finally decide whether to add it to increase the liquid to veg ratio (maybe before you add the broccoli florets is best).
Don't overcook the broccoli florets- they're greatly what gives the soup it's nice shade.

Green Soup
serves 6 or more, depending on the eaters

3 T (90 ml) olive oil
3 medium leeks, white and light green part only
1 medium onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, top and bottom removed sliced lengthwise, then into 1/2 inch half moons
1 medium potato (or 2-3 small potatoes to amount to a medium one)

6-7 c (1.4 to 1.65 liters) vegetable or chicken broth
1 lb, 4 oz (about 570 g) broccoli
1/8 t cayenne pepper (0.4 g if you have a sensitive scale, otherwise a nice pinch)

1 t (2 g) freshly ground black pepper 
Freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 c (125 ml) light cream, optional (half and half, or heavy cream or c
rème fraîche if you wish)
Salt, as necessary

Slice the root end off the leeks then slice them in half lengthwise. Slice the leeks into 1/2 inch pieces, and place them in a bowl of cold water. Agitate and soak a bit, then pull the leek pieces out of the water and into a strainer (instead of pouring the bowl of leeks and water out through a strainer- leave the sand and grit at the bottom of the bowl instead of putting it back on your leeks).
Drain well.

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pan (such as enameled cast iron) over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion, and saute 3-5 minutes until slightly wilted and the onions are translucent.

Add the minced garlic and saute about 30 seconds, before adding the prepared zucchini and potato. Stir so that everything is coated in oil, then pour in 6 cups of broth.

While the broth is warming, prepare the broccoli. Remove the florets from the stems and place them in a bowl. Set aside. Remove the ends of the stems, and peel the tough outer layer from the stalks. Slice the peeled portions of broccoli stems and add them to the pot.

Add the cayenne and black pepper to the soup, as well as several good grinds of nutmeg.
Bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. If you so choose, add the extra liquid about 12 minutes in, then add the broccoli florets after 15 minutes. Cook the soup the last 5 minutes, at which time the broccoli tops will have turned a bright green. 

Remove the pot from the heat and puree in batches, carefully filling the blender only 1/2- 2/3 full. Pour the pureed soup into another pot or tureen, and continue to puree the remaining soup.
When finished, add the cream if desired and taste for seasonings. Adjust as necessary.

Serve as is, or with grated cheddar or Parmesan.