Here are some things I’d like to tell you on March 2nd:
1. I start a 10-week online writing course today and I’m really excited about it. The aim of the class is to get the students writing every day. We’ve got 4 assignments per week and have to turn one in at the end of the week for feedback. Already I’ve been reduced to just a blender of emotions, which is weird because I write for you all almost every day. I didn’t expect this! Inviting feedback–and meaning it–is scary.
2. It’s March which means that Spring is just around the corner! I can feel it; the sun feels sunnier. And the fact that we got an additional 5 inches of snow yesterday, and that Texas of all places is covered in ice, and that currently the wind is howling and I’m a little concerned about the integrity of our window construction, is the beside the point. March! Spring!
3. House of Cards season 3 is out on Netflix, as if you hadn’t already heard. Claire Underwood is one of my all-time favorite characters, and girl can rock a white dress.
4. Speaking of dresses. #TheDress? I can’t. It made me question everything. I felt anxious and adrift. If we can’t count on colors, what can we count on? What if we all see everything differently and this was the first thing that pointed it out, and it’s like a pandora’s box of…. see? I can’t.
5. I went and checked the mail on Saturday and in it there was a magazine, a J.Crew catalog, a thank-you note, an invitation, and a package of old pictures from my mom. Is that not the best mail-day in history?
And finally: soup.
This soup has an interesting backstory. Recently as I was walking through my apartment complex office/common room on my way from the gym, the property manager stopped me. “Do you like vegetables?” She asked, hopefully. This was a fairly strange way to say Hello, but sure, I thought. I’ll bite. I love talking about food. “Well, yes, I do like vegetables” I replied. “Oh wonderful, follow me” she said as she showed me to the refrigerator. She opened the door and pointed to 2 grocery bags full of ingredients. Someone from the complex had gotten a BlueApron delivery, except that someone had recently moved and wasn’t going to come back to pick them up.
BlueApron is a meal-delivery service. The company sends you recipes, along with every single thing you need to make said recipe (even minutiae, like 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes). I happily took whatever was left, which included: a beautiful bunch of tuscan kale, barley, farro, multi-colored carrots, parsnips, a turnip, a head of radicchio, collared greens, hazelnuts, black walnuts, 2 different-sized containers of pecorino romano cheese, creme fraiche, and yes, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a tiny little bag.
I took them home and put them in my refrigerator and then immediately forgot about them. I’m bad to forget about food that isn’t on my weekly menu. Last week when I opened the crisper to do my weekly clean-out of the fridge, I found all those vegetables that I had agreed to take off her hands. Aside from the collared greens which were too worse for wear, and the kale which needed to be used soon, everything was fine.
I took everything out and assessed what I had, plus one green pepper that didn’t get used from fajita night. I looked in the produce bowl I keep on the counter and grabbed an onion and a rogue potato. I checked the pantry for some necessities like chicken stock, and then I got down to business.
My solution: chop everything, throw everything in a pot with some olive oil and seasoning, cover everything with chicken stock and simmer until soft, then whirl it all up into a soup.
Once blended, I squeezed in lots of fresh lemon juice to liven everything up and threw in both of those containers of pecorino romano cheese. I didn’t add any cream; the potato and other root vegetables were starchy enough to give everything a smooth, silky texture when pureed.
I ladled a serving into a bowl, drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil on top and added few grinds of black pepper. I thought that it certainly wasn’t the prettiest of soups, and that a green pureed soup might be a hard sell on the blog, and then decided that I didn’t care because it was delicious and because it was a success story of not letting food wither and die in your vegetable crisper.
And since Spring is just around the corner, what better time to take advantage of these hearty, hardy, winter vegetables?
Here’s the recipe.
Silky Smooth Winter Vegetable Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 bunch tuscan kale, stalks removed and leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 turnip, peeled and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 parsnip, chopped
- 1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Add olive oil to a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, bell pepper, turnip and parsnip. Cook until the onions and peppers are beginning to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add potato and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 3 minutes more.
- Cover the entire thing with chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer for 35-40 minutes, until everything is very soft and the carrots can be broken up with a wooden spoon on the side of the pot.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Using an immersion blender, or a traditional blender but working in batches, blend the entire thing until very smooth. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the cheese gradually, stirring constantly to combine. Taste for seasoning at this point and adjust as needed; the pecorino romano cheese is pretty salty so wait until after you add it to check for salt. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top and a few grinds of black pepper.
*I divided this recipe and put half of it in the refrigerator for lunches throughout the week and froze the other half in a ziplock bag. To thaw, I’ll take the bag out of the freezer and put it in warm water, just until the soup is thawed enough to slide out of the bag and into a pot. Then I’ll heat it over medium-low heat until thawed and warm.