A few weeks ago Vinny was all excited about turning leftovers usually meant for the garbage into a nutritious soup stock (see Garbage soup). Once you get into the habit, it’s a magical way to feed yourself, body and soul.
Yesterday, though, I read a post from Things my Belly Likes where we’re told how to turn your Cinderella soup stock into a princess. A few of these tricks were new to me. As they all sound so reasonable, healthy, and delicious, I pass them on here.
- Add cloves – Toss a few of these into the soup pot along with some black peppercorns and the result is a spicy, flavorful broth with extra kick. Cloves are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and great for the immune system. If you think you’re getting the latest cold/flu bug, then cloves are a must.
- Sprinkle in seaweed – Your thyroid will thank you for that iodine kick you get by adding edible seaweed to the broth. A few strips of dried dulse or kelp to the bones at the start, before it comes to a boil, is all you need. You might not be able to taste it but your thyroid knows it’s there, and it thanks you.
- Vinegar is vital – Vinegar helps leach out all the healthy minerals from the bones. Use about two tablespoons per gallon of broth. Any good vinegar will do so – apple cider, balsamic or even red wine vinegar. Stay away from plain white vinegar, though, because it apparently results in a bitter broth. Lemon and wine, both also acidic, could likely do the job, too.
- Go heavy on the garlic and onions – These veggies are especially important to ward off the cold/flu, because garlic and onion are legendary immune system boosters. Use at least two large white onions and a whole bulb of garlic. Just score the sides of the bulb, smash it a bit and chuck it in.
- Roast the bones – Before making your stock, roast the bones and veggies too in a hot oven for 30 minutes. It heightens the brown color.
There you have it. Wave your wand, throw these tidbits into the cauldron, and simmer up some good health.
As a tasty snack, eat your stock cold out of the fridge while it’s like a jelly. Or use it to make a powerful soup by adding fresh veggies, legumes and other tasties.
But there’s one very special soup I want to share with you here. Remember Clementine in the Kitchen from last week’s post? It was Sharon’s dad’s favorite cookbook ever. She rediscovered it only recently. And hidden among its pages lurked a recipe her mom had clipped from a magazine… a rich soup stock dressed up with shitake mushrooms and chopped spinach. How healthy is that!
But what made this soup Adela’s own was the carrot flowers. Nothing pleased Sharon’s mom more than a pretty presentation. And if the exotic mushrooms didn’t do it, these cutsie flower coins would take this soup out of the ordinary. The crowning touch was a drop of good sherry added at the table. Adela’s dinner parties were always something people looked forward to.
I made Adela’s soup today to see how it holds up, so many years later. I had to update it here and there. The main difference is that I replaced dry shitakes with fresh ones. The fresh ones wouldn’t have been readily available in the 1950s and 60s. But I’m happy to report: it was DELIcious!
Vinny makes Adela’s party soup
Shitake mushroom and spinach broth
serves 2 for lunch
- 1 cup rich, homemade beef broth of the type described above [I used the left-overs from yesterday's Hochepot]
- 1 cup water
- 2 ounces (50 grams) shitake mushrooms, brushed clean and finely sliced
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped and packed down
- 1 large carrot, scrubbed and left unpeeled
- Dry sherry [or lemon juice for folks who can't drink alcohol]
For carrot flowers - Use the sharp tip of a clean bottle opener to make five grooves lengthwise down the side of the carrot. Then slice the carrot into thin coins to get pretty flower shapes.
In a large saucepan add carrot flowers to the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. When carrots are tender, about 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and spinach. Cover and cook another 2 minutes. Divide into 2 bowls for lunch or 4 bowls for a dinner appetizer. Add 1 tablespoon dry sherry to each bowl at the table. [I used Madeira, as there was no sherry to be had.]
I was happy with the result. Sharon tasted it and beamed: Thanks, Mom!
Garbage soup – Soup basics: make soup every day from whatever you have in the fridge.