Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Warming Up to Cold Soup

We made a trip to Jeffrey's this past weekend, to celebrate Mother's Day and my son's birthday which was Saturday.

We were especially impressed with the various soups we were served. One, an amuse bouche of cold avocado soup with smoked salmon and cucumber, was the last in a series of cold soup experiences that have slowly but surely moved me into the chilled soup fan base.

So today, when I began my exploration of what to do with the sorrel that arrived in our weekly CSA subscription basket, I was more interested than usual in a cold soup recipe I found at epicurious.com, "Sorrel, Pea, and Leek Soup".

This recipe originally ran in the April 1996 "Gourmet" magazine. Surely if any deaths resulted we'd have heard about it by now. I felt quite secure in progressing even though sorrel and I are just barely getting acquainted.

The recipe ingredient list begins by calling for the white and pale green parts of 3 leeks (about 3/4 pound). As it turns out, in this week's basket we received 4 leeks. The rest of the ingredient list was already sitting someplace in my pantry or refrigerator, so I figured I was meant to make this soup. Destiny was calling and she was holding a soup spoon in her hand.My one comment so far on this recipe is that the 45 minutes or less prep time it predicts fails to take into account my typical snail's pace when preparing a new recipe with a novel ingredient. I have been preparing dinners for a family for three decades now. I am no stranger to a knife, but the process of taking the stems and center vein out of "enough" sorrel to yield three loosely packed cups of chiffonade leaves was not a rapid process. Maybe next time I'll clock in closer to the 45 minute mark. This time it took me closer to an hour to gather my ingredients, read and re-read the recipe to make sure I had a good grasp of the steps, and then finally to blend the cooked and raw ingredients into what looked to me to be a "very smooth" consistency.Side note: I may have totalled my blender this go-round. I carefully placed the work pitcher in the dishwasher and am waiting to reassemble it and see if it still does anything other than make noise. We may be in the market for a new appliance soon. Anybody know of a good use for a defunct blender?

I did taste a bit of the soup warm. In the reviews of the recipe I noted a few who served it warm because they lived in cold weather spots and weren't in the market for a chilled soup. So I felt certain if I liked it warm, I'd be more confident serving this to my husband chilled and swirled with Crema and topped with crisped bacon.

The bacon is my own innovation. The recipe calls for chopped hard boiled egg and more sorrel on top. I figure the sorrel I tasted was pretty lively, and chopped egg is not going to win a friend the way chopped crispy bits of pork will. Hence the substitution. Plus I was able to find a responsible all natural nitrate and nitrite free bacon source at the market which is local, from Hamilton, Texas. To boot, Pederson's Natural Farms is a certified humane facility. Besides holding a soup spoon, my version of Destiny loves her some bacon. Pederson Farms makes it possible for me to have my bacon and enjoy it too!We will see how the completed, chilled, bacon topped dish is received as a second course for dinner this evening. I also have some Sorrel-wrapped goat cheese and beet stacks planned as appetizers. After that we will have a pretty pedestrian fare of grilled chicken and perhaps a salad or some rice. The whiz-bang for this meal all comes front loaded.I will report back on the premiere of this gorgeously green soup. And our beet stacks. The recipe will make 60 appetizers which is about 56 more than I'll need, so I will be spending some time reworking the instructions. However, since this is mostly a matter of piling food up once you get past roasting the beets, I am optimistic I have not gotten too ambitious for a nice dinner featuring our new weekly star, Sorrel.

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