Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beet Greens Soup: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 38

It's been a good while since I've done weekend shopping and cooked from that all week - it seems that in the past couple of years, it's been a day to day pondering, with the exception of making a large batch of something that lasts 2-3 days. "The Pleasures of Cooking for One", my current cookbook muse, is motivating me to create meals that feed into other meals, and is reminding me to think differently about all parts of the foods I'm using.  Today's "recipe" will take you through what I did yesterday, and while I am not writing this out in recipe form, if you read it all, the recipe is in there!

I'm a huge fan of leftovers and throwing things together with 'scraps', and reading this book in combination with recently discovering the Instagram feed called 'cookscraps' is giving me all kinds of great ideas!

All the bits and ends from weekend cooking and prep - soon to be a yummy stock!

Over the weekend, I started by preparing some salads for the week, and I tossed all the stems, peelings, ends and little bits left over into a stock pot with some water and a few herbs, and simmered a lovely veggie stock throughout an evening. I took that to the studio yesterday, with the rest of my beets, kale, garlic scapes, some onions, sweet potatoes, a random few mushrooms and carrot.

Note: Beet leaves are also great added to other greens in saute,
or even thinly sliced and added to other soups
I chopped up the beet stems and kale bones and softened them in a bit of the stock with a small spoon of coconut oil, adding more stock as I kept chopping stems and the liquid reduced. I also chopped up the onion, bulbs and greens of the garlic scapes and added that. And I finely chopped up about 2" of ginger and added that with about 1 tsp each of cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika, and turmeric. While that simmered away, I cut down the beet greens and kale, then added that to the pot with the rest of the stock (I had 2 quarts total), put a lid on it, reduced the heat to a high simmer, and let it do its thing until the greens and stems were completely tender. While that was happening, I peeled and cut 2 small sweet potatoes into cubes, peeled the beets, cutting the larger ones into smaller pieces, and cut the mushrooms into quarters. Those were tossed with a slight drizzle of olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and roasted in a 400 degree oven until tender, but not overly soft. 

Green soup: pre-blend. I had gallery activity during the blending, so didn't photograph that part.
I forgot my immersion blender at home, but we have a small blender at the studio, so I did a few batches of the soup in the blender to get it all smoothed out (*tip: when pureeing hot soup in a blender, don't fill it all the way up, and drape a kitchen towel over the top before you go - the heat will expand out when you do, and if you're not holding on and/or if your lid isn't tight, it will pop off and shower you with hot soup. I did not find this out the hard way, I witnessed it years ago in a kitchen and never forgot!)

The pureed soup was returned to the stock pot, but it was thinner than I had hoped. We didn't have much for thickening, but luckily I had been busy enough that I never got around to my own breakfast, so I harvested some uncooked oats and walnuts, tossed them in the blender with a cup of the puree, and created a nice thickener to add back to the pot, along with the roasted veggies.

What resulted was a lovely, thick, maybe not velvety but smooth enough, green soup with a delightful depth of flavor.

Sexy, velvety soup with roasted vegetables over soft vegetable polenta.
As I was cooking at the studio, I was cooking for more than one, and we wanted to stretch the soup a bit more (and add a starch for those who wanted it). I hadn't planned for that, so another quick tour of the studio kitchen cupboards gave us our solution: a bag of grits and a can of vegan vegetable soup. I brought the soup, plus two cans of water to a simmer in a small pot. Meanwhile, we picked a casserole pan out of the backstock inventory (a beautiful piece by my studio mate Sarah Wells Rolland - we were all so hungry by the time this was done, it wasn't until later that I realized we never took a picture of that!). It got a quick 'greasing' with coconut oil, then 2 cups of grits, salt and pepper and mixed that together. The simmered soup/sauce was poured on top, mixed well, and the casserole was placed in the cold oven. We set that to 350, and about 35 minutes later, the grit/polenta was stirred up, then baked another 10-15 minutes. 

The result: a nicely seasoned soft polenta under the velvety, green soup. SO. GOOD. Note to self: I wish I had brought a lemon with me - it would have added even a touch more brightness, but I'm certainly not sad about it being left out!

PS - I ended up with yet MORE scraps that went into a bag. When the bag is full of other bits and ends, I'll start another round of stock. And so it goes on...

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