Wednesdays are CSA share distribution days for us, and therefore Tuesdays are the days I freak about the stuff that's still hanging around my fridge(s). This week, there was a lot - we went away for the weekend and so I didn't cook for a few nights. I didn't want to waste the precious bounty, so - here came this kitchen-sink green soup to the rescue . . . this soup will help you get your frugalista on, big-time.
My mother was poking around at the library and found a great cookbook called Love Soup by Anna Thomas, the author of the roundly praised Vegetarian Epicure. Only after she'd begun to photocopy her favorites (um, mother of an intellectual property litigator) did my mother realize it'd be better to just buy the book . . . so many looked so good. I received the photocopies (she's not one to waste anything!) and this one caught my eye.
This isn't so much a recipe as a method. You can put anything in this soup - sky's the limit. Only a few things remain the same - you caramelize an onion to start. You add some garlic part-way through, you garnish it with some lovely olive oil and perhaps a sprinkle of cheese. But which veggies you choose is entirely up to you.
- a bunch of flat leaf parsley
- a half-bunch of cilantro
- a bunch of lacinato kale
- 3 bulbs (is that what they're called?) kohlrabi
- 2 bunches of scallions
- 1 medium yellow onion
Get yourself a large stockpot or a big Le Creuset - I used my 7 1/4 qt. Le Creuset for this. Thinly slice the yellow onion, and cook it with a sprinkle of salt, in about 2 T. of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook it on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it's golden brown and soft - you're letting the onion's delicious sweet flavor develop here. Don't rush it! This will take about 1/2 hour, but you're going to be chopping while you do this . . . .
Meanwhile, clean and chop all your various veggies - you can use stems of things here, too, 'cause you're cooking it 'til it's soft.
When your onion is sufficiently caramelized, de-glaze the pan with a little vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth. Then add all those greens, along with approximately 3 cups of whichever broth you're using. Toss the veggies in the broth until they cook down a bit (my pot was practically over-flowing to start). Also add 3-4 T. of arborio rice - this will add starch and will result in a velvety soup when it's finished.
Once the broth begins to boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat, and let the soup simmer for approximately 1/2 hour. Add more broth to completely cover the cooked-down vegetables, and add 2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on your taste (for all those veggies, I added the equivalent of 4 cloves of crushed garlic).
Once everything is sufficiently mushy (more or less time, depending on what you've got in there), remove the vat from the heat and use either an immersion blender or a regular blender (for goodness sake, be careful blending hot liquids, OK?) to puree the soup. Return it to the heat, bring it back to simmer, and add the juice of one lemon, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Voila!
Garnishes - a little extra-good extra-virgin drizzled on top adds a delicious richness. Also good is some fresh white cheese - I used some ricotta salata, but Thomas suggests that feta or Cotija would be good. You could also make up some croutons to throw on top. If it hadn't been 50-gagillion degrees out, I'd have hacked up a stale loaf of rosemary focaccia I have in the fridge and toasted that up. Maybe tomorrow?