Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day Broccoli Soup - with potlikker

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention, but never discount two days of snow in the South as a source of inspiration.

It’s reasonably safe to drive or walk to Raleigh-area shops now, but why bother when the fridge is full of leftovers? Tim surprised us this morning with a creamy omelet that made good use of a scoop of backfin crab meat, a bit of sauteed onion and a handful of feta. He hit it out of the park, however, with a hearty soup for lunch.

At a glance, this easily could be dismissed as a bowl of basic broccoli soup. But this flavorful batch not only included a quart of decadently rich frozen chicken stock (marvelously gelatinous, thanks to otherwise creepy little chicken feet) but also a pint of savory potlikker saved from collards he cooked earlier this week. The green broth added a certain umami – a salty, smoked porky richness that nonbelievers don’t deserve to enjoy.

The finishing touch came from the heel of an exceptional but forgotten rustic loaf from La Farm. I thought it suitable only for desperate birds, but Tim hacked it into large cubes, rubbed them with a bit of bacon grease and warmed them in a slow oven to create irresistible croutons.

Snow Day Broccoli Soup
Adapted from James Peterson’s Slow-Cooked Broccoli Soup with Garlic and Olive Oil, Splendid Soups (John Wiley & Sons, 2001).

Serves four bored, hungry people.

4 stalks of broccoli, stems peeled if tough
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic paste (or four cloves, finely minced)
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or good quality, low-sodium store bought stock)
2 cups potlikker (reserved from cooking collards with a smoked ham hock)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3-4 cups 1-inch cubes stale crusty bread
1 tablespoon bacon grease (or vegetable oil spray)
Salt, pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cut broccoli into florets and trim peeled stems into 1/4-inch slices. Dice onion.

Combine all ingredients except for salt, pepper and parmesan into a four-quart stock pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for about an hour, or until broccoli is tender enough to break with a wooden spoon.

While soup is simmering, cut stale bread into cubes and rub lightly with bacon grease. Warm in 300 degree oven about 15 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Season soup with to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls, adding a handful of croutons and freshly grated parmesan.

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