Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Shut-Ins and Soup Recipes

I'm going on three days with no voice.  Jeremy and I both have laryngitis so our place has turned into a silent sanitarium of sorts.  While I'm definitely experiencing some cabin fever, there are a few benefits to being a shut-in.  One of which is learning more about the lady who lives in the building next to mine and plays with her dogs in her parking lot beneath my window.  "Plays," is probably a stretch.  What she does is sit on the ground eating takeout while her dogs run around and she screams charming things at them like, "Stop eating your own shit!" and "Shut up or I'll smash you!" She's also constantly screaming on her bluetooth, so I can always hear her weird one-sided conversations and today I heard one of her best gems yet.  "I swear ta God, that DUI was the best thing that coulda happened.  Who KNOWS how many other cats I woulda run over and killed if I hadn't gotten pulled over?!?!"  She fascinates me.

One of the other benefits is being able to try out lots of soup recipes.  We got a Vitamix blender for Christmas and it's basically the best thing ever- I can't stop making soup with it.  The pesto soup with Gnocchi Beans and Greens from Isa Chandra Moskowitz is super easy to make (I left out the Gnocchi to make it gluten free) and you should probably make it today.
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head cauliflower (about a pound), leaves removed, cut into florettes
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Big pinch dried thyme
Lots of fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, plus a little extra for garnish

8 oz frozen gnocchi, partially thawed (leave on the counter for 30 minutes or so)
1 15 oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 small bunch swiss chard, stems discarded, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
Optional: I didn’t add them here, but toasted pine nuts would make a great garnish.
Preheat a 4 quart stock pot over medium heat. Saute garlic in olive oil for about a minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add cauliflower, 3 cups of broth (alert! only 3 of the cups! you’ll be adding the last cup in a bit), salt, thyme and several dashes fresh black pepper. Cover pot and bring to a boil, stirring every now and again for about 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.
Vigorously mix together the final cup of broth and the arrowroot until dissolved. Lower heat a bit so that the soup is at a slow boil. Mix in the broth/arrowroot and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes until slightly thickened. stirring often. Add the basil leaves, and remove from heat. Use a submersion blender to puree until smooth*. Taste for salt and seasoning.
Return to the stove over medium heat and add the gnocchi, cover and let cook for 3 minutes or so. Add the greens and beans and cook until greens are completely wilted and beans are heated through, about 5 more minutes. Be careful as you stir not to crush the gnocchi or beans. Serve garnished with extra basil and pine nuts, if you like.

Top Photo Ryan Furbush via FFFFound.  Bottom photo and recipe via The Post Punk Kitchen

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