Wednesday, November 17, 2010

snapshot: polenta and spinach soup

i've known for almost two weeks that
that i would have today off.
the whole time, i've thought about
three things:
1) peace
2) no alarm
3) cooking (and taking pictures)
in the daylight.

see, i need some peace (and quiet)
right now. i need a day of waking up
naturally without that horrible beeping
starting at 5 in the morning. and, you
in good light. or alternatively, i need to
be home in the middle of the day to take
pictures with natural light.

and, i knew exactly which recipe i had
my eye on: lidia bastianich's
featured in last month's bon appetit.
luckily, i fell asleep to a storm
and woke up - blissfully at 8:30 - to crazy
wind. it was a soup day.

first, i changed the recipe.
instead of tossing raw garlic into the pot
with butter, i sauteed
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
in 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter over medium heat
until it was lightly golden, stirring most of the time.
while that was happening,
i brought 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock to a simmer.

when both of those were good and ready,
i pulled out a larger pot and stirred together
3/4 cups polenta with 3 tablespoons
all-purpose flour. i ladled in a cup of the
warm broth and whisked like crazy. next,
i added in the garlic,
2 more tablespoons of butter and
a sprinkling of kosher salt.

then, the mixture
seized up and i considered stopping.
see, i'm pretty tired lately.
although up until that point, everything
had been going along swimmingly, that was
almost enough for me to throw in the towel.

but, i didn't. i came to my senses.
i really didn't want to throw it out -
there were four cloves of gorgeously sauteed garlic
in there for goodness sake.

instead, i ladled in more and more stock,
whisking and whisking all the while until it
thinned out. when most of the liquid was in,
i brought the mixture to a gentle simmer and
continued to stir occasionally for the
next 25 minutes. at one point,
it got a little thick and i was glad to have
that extra stock to drizzle in. when the soup
was nicely thickened, but the cornmeal still
had a bit of texture, i added 6 ounces cleaned
baby spinach and 1/4 cup grated pecorino
romano cheese. i seasoned it well with salt
and cracked black pepper and
simmered the soup for just a
couple minutes more, until the spinach
was wilted.

and then, i spooned myself a bowl of this
soup that was somewhat a porridge,
somewhat very soft and runny polenta,
and in my head, the perfect soup for
the perfect quiet day.

*the key to this soup is seasoning. salt and pepper it to your heart's content, tasting along the way. i added the pecorino romano, and sprinkled a bit on top, because that's what i always do with polenta - i'm glad i did. still, even though, i am always about big flavor, this recipe is all about simple comfort. i would imagine that the soup would get a great boost from a squeeze of lemon, blue cheese crumbles or a bit of chipotle in adobo.

one last thing: make sure that you have extra stock on hand for leftovers - the polenta continues to soak up the liquid, thickening as it cools. reheated with a bit of stock would do wonders for the soup-like consistency.
polenta and spinach soup

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This looks yummy and easy. Also enjoyed the format of this post.