Ever had one of those days where all you do is work, come home, prepare dinner, eat while watching a favorite TV show (Top Chef, Season1 right now) and then go to bed? I punched out 4 miles on my lunch break and inhaled some cream of wheat, carrot and seafood salad, four cups of tea/or coffee, a power bar, some yogurt and cereal and even a few Tablespoons of PB and J with crackers…but I worked a lot! So, soup saves the day here. Refreshing, soothing, rejuvenating. Ah, and this was an occassion to break out some German Reisling. The moon sparkled a bit for this gal who prefers reds, as the white peary bite offset with perfect moodiness the watery-ness of the broth…
My wonderful mentor sent a remarkable Christmas package that contained a gift that surprised me: a cookbook. I have been out of favor with cookbooks f or the past five years now, in the past two years relying solely on revised concoctions mused from online sources. Yet this one, stole my heart. Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. A Benedictine monk authored this beloved edition that relies heavily on French cuisine and a sense of soulishness. What I cherished about this cookbook was that many of the selections felt foreign to me, and featured seasonal fare plant based and flavorful. Immediately, I sent another book of his off to my friend Y in hopes of sharing the passion. I promised to make a soup from each month following the recipe exactly as written with no substitutions or creativity. My February selection
simple, one-pot, wholly healthful soup. This soup starred, of all things, escarole.
Escarole isn’t anything new; this leafy green has been around for 5,000 years or so. The Egyptians ate it. The Greeks. Ovid mentions the stuff, as does Pliny. It’s a staple in Italian cuisine. But the truth is, this vegetable is relatively new to me.
Like all leafy greens, escarole is a great source of iron, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and minerals. Unlike other kale or collards, it doesn’t require too much cooking. It resembles a kind of wide-leaf, tough, homely variety of romaine lettuce – just heartier and a little more bitter.
This soup isn’t anything unique; you can find a gazillion variations in cookbooks and online. But I thought this version was so, so good. Good enough to turn a blue day into something better
1 Head of Escarole, chopped
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
Step 1…sautee the garlic and onion in a sprinkle of oil, 5 minutes, before adding in the turnip and tomato. After they were browned, I turned the heat down real low and added the wine, plus the broth. After a little bubbly action occurred, the leafs were thrown in. Then, immediately the heat was reduced to almost nada, and I let the flavors meld a bit. It said parmesan was optional, which I thought was silly. Parmesan is a must, so I threw in a thumb nail sized wedge. I let the stew sit there for an hour, although the recipe says 25 minutes. Then I turned up the heat, added salt and pepper, and let it brew for 5 before serving with a piece of toast on top with a swirl of olive oil.
Ever had lettuce soup? My goodness, the wine and tomatoes totally taste like honey together, almost jarring with the fragrant bitter leaves. I never would have combined these ingredients on my own, and as the white-y chewyness of the parmesan laces itself into the onions, believe me, you’ll be slurping.
Still am tired. But definitely NOURISHED. This is comfort food all the way. I served it with a mozzarella apple grilled sandwich and a carrot-avacado-banana raw salad. Seriously? Who knew killer Tuesdays could be so delicious!