Restaurant Critic Soup
How did I review restaurants in NYC and not weigh 400 pounds?
Well, for starters, I only "tasted" the dishes I ordered and let my guests finish them.
I tried to limit myself to one piece of bread per restaurant. And every month, I'd make a vat of "restaurant critic soup" which I'd eat for three days straight. I got the advice from a fellow restaurant critic in San Francisco who credited this soup for helping her keep her girlish figure despite eating out 8-10 times a week. I no longer review restaurants (and never had a girlish figure), but every year, around this time, I get a hankering for that soup. Now that I make it almost entirely with ingredients from the farmers market, it tastes much more like a reward than a bowl of culinary penance. This week, with the heater coming on in the morning and a busy week of deadlines and working from home, I decided to make a giant batch which I've been enjoying for lunch and dinner every single day. It's as delicious as it is righteous. I'm not going to give you a recipe because there really isn't one. It's basically a free for all with only a few rules that you MUST follow. Start by sauteeing some leeks (or shallots or onions) in a little of olive oil in your favorite and roomiest soup pot. Then fill it 3/4 of the way with water (that's RULE #1). Of course, if you want something richer use homemade or store-bought stock. Dump in whichever root vegetables you've got handy. Just make sure you've cut them up in pieces that are roughly the same size so they cook evenly. I put in some of those gorgeous tiny white turnips and carrots from Cowberry Crossing, some sweet potatoes, parsnips and "white" carrots from Madura Farms. If you're a restaurant critic, you don't want to put any POTATOES in there(RULE #2). But if you're not, go right ahead and throw in small handful of Yukon golds. The truth is, this soup is so hearty you're not going to miss them. About 15 minutes after the soup's been simmering, add some rough chopped tomatoes. In the winter, add a large can of San Marzano diced tomatoes. Oh and a couple bay leaves, some peppercorns and/or a bouquet garni if you're feeling inspired. Or none of the above. Let the soup simmer for about an hour or more...There' s really no rush and your house will smell so good you'll want to leave it on as long as possible. Once the soup has been cooking for a while...add greens: CABBAGE if you eat out for a living. Lots and lots of shredded cabbage(that's RULE #3). Toss in a fair amount - it will cook up quickly in the simmering soup. This week instead of cabbage, I put in all the leafy greens I got at the market last Saturday: Taliaferro chard and Cowberry Kale (two bunches!) all cut up in ribbons. You must be wondering how I could eat this soup twice a day for a week and not get bored. Every day I add something new to it to make it more interesting. I portion some out into a smaller pot and add either cannellini, garbanzo beans or green beans, one day. Sometimes I'll add Asian spices with some tofu. Thursday, I added a bunch of gourmet mushrooms I'd gotten at the Wednesday market in Irvington. Today, I added some market mint chutney (Sriracha sauce works well, too! so does grated Parmesan cheese). For the girls I sometimes add some cooked rice or noodles or some shredded chicken. (for the record, they DO NOT eat it all week).
It's a great way to make room in your refrigerator, and to ready yourself for those winter stews and sauces to come...
Did you know that Roaming Angus now has pork belly?
No knife sharpener tomorrow - back next week.
Our musician this week is Putnam Smith who is often mistaken for an old-world troubadour fresh from the 19th Century. After all, he lives in a log cabin, plays his Grandfather's banjo, and prints up the jackets to his CDs on an antique letterpress. Yet this rootsy multi-instrumentalist songwriter (he also writes and performs on guitar, mandolin, fretless banjo, and piano), steeped as he is in old-time Appalachian traditions, is very much a storyteller for the modern age. His new CD, "We Could Be Beekeepers" went to #2 on the national Folk & Bluegrass DJ Charts the month it was released, this last June. Learn more at: www.putnamsmith.com.
See you at the market!