January 31, 2012

A Souper Start to the New Year with Deborah Madison

In a recent blog post by Deborah Madison, she notes that "the aftermath of the holidays seems to have produced more articles about becoming vegetarian or vegan whether for a day, a week, or a month than I remember seeing...And why not? It’s good to try something new."

In celebration of new things, she hosted a cooking class on New Year's with friends. The inspiration for the class was to introduce her students to new techniques, winter vegetables, and how to enhance natural flavors of food by using different oils and vinegars, herbs, spices and salts.

As January is coming to a close, it seems that trying something new is not only more fun but also a good way to keep those health goals going strong. Why not try something new? How about one of Deborah Madison's winter greens soup recipes?

"Cool-weather markets can count on a steady supply of chard and cilantro, which get together in this pretty soup. Diana Kennedy is responsible for the noodle nests - I never would have come up with them myself - but they are a great addition, giving texture and substance to a light soup. Consider using them in place of dumplings and croutons in other brothy soups."

Chard and Cilantro Soup with Noodle Nests
Recipe by Deborah Madison in Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets - Reprinted with permission.Serves 4-6

       2 eggs, separated
       3 ounces (1 3/4 cups) fine egg noodles such as fideos or capellini, uncooked
       1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
       2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
       sea salt
       peanut oil for frying

1. Beat the egg whites until they hold firm peaks, then stir in the yolks, noodles, cheese, and cilantro. Season with a few pinches of salt, then really work the mixture with your hands or a wooden spoon so that it's more or less homogeneous. It will look impossibly dry and stiff.

2. Heat enough oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat to float the noodles, at least 1/3 inch. When it's hot, drop the batter into the oil, dividing it into 4 to 6 portions by eye. Fry until golden, about one minute, then turn and fry the second side, another minute. Set aside on paper towels. These can be made hours ahead of time.

       1 tablespoon olive oil
       2 bunches scallions, including an inch or two of the greens, finely chopped
       1 celery rib, dices
       1 cup finely chopped cilantro stems and leaves, packed
       leaves from 1 bunch chard, green or Rainbow, about 6 cups packed
       sea salt and freshly ground pepper
       6 cups Vegetable Stock, chicken stock, or water
       cilantro sprigs for garnish

1. Warm the oil in a soup pot. Add the scallions and celery and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. After the few minutes, add the cilantro and 1/2 cup water so that the vegetables stew rather than fry. Add the chard leaves, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, then cover and cook until the chard has wilted down. Add the stock or water.

2. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add the noodle nests to the pot. Simmer until the chard is tender, about 10 minutes. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Ladle the soup into soup plates, include a noodle nest in each bowl, and serve garnished with a sprig of cilantro.

Thank you again to Deborah for sharing her wonderful recipe with us! Be sure to check out her latest book Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm and Market and be on the lookout for her next book, Vegetable Literacy on shelves next year.