A new soup recipe is born!

29 Jan

As much as I love making interesting recipes from books and magazines, I also derive deep pleasure from making a creative dish with leftovers lying around (I hate wasted food to a point of paranoia). I usually end up with at least a carrot or some parsley at the end of the week. I plan my shopping trips such that I won’t have many leftovers, but life inevitably gets in the way, and a planned meal is not made or I forget to add something I meant to to a dish. Thus, this week’s adventure in off-the-top-of-my-head cooking: escarole soup.

When I shopped for groceries this past weekend, I knew I’d be making an escarole soup last night. I have a recipe in The Healthy Kitchen by Dr. Weil for a very simple soup with just broth and a head of escarole. That, by itself, will make a fulfilling soup, because escarole is a thick and hearty lettuce that withstands wilting in the hot liquid (it’s no shriveling spinach, that’s for sure). However, I like to beef up my escarole soup quite a bit more, and I find that this simple soup is a great “invention” dish for discovering new flavor cominations.

And last night sure was a practice in experimentation! First, I took stock of the extra produce sitting in the fridge and pantry. Let’s see…a carrot…a shallot…some frozen corn…garlic…just enough parsley…and bacon! Those were the conventional ingredients. I found some beautiful Yukon gold potatoes in the pantry (they’re for something this weekend, but one could be spared), and low and behold, a few straggling radishes from the week before that I hadn’t been able to squeeze into any other recipes since. The rest made perfect sense, but radishes? In soup? Why the heck not?

The radishes, chopped into 1/8-in. pieces like the carrot, went in with the aromatics. By the time the soup was ready for eating, they had lost most of their flavor, but a little did remain. If nothing else, they added bulk to the soup, and I got rid of them before they started to rot. I also had some artisan sourdough bread about to go stale, so I cut a thick piece (1-in. thick) and threw that in too. Bread will disintegrate and add a nice texture to the broth; it’s like magic for thickening soups.

The end result was a very bulky but savory (and intriguing) combination of ingredients in broth that I’ll happily repeat in the future, though perhaps never exactly like this. The best part about soups is that you never have to make the same one twice.

The recipe can be found here.

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