Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eat it with your mouth, not your eyes

Spinach soup (p90). Doesn't sound very appealing, does it? Well, you'd be surprised.

I picked up a $1 bunch of spinach at the markets the other day, well aware that I had this recipe to do. I had a bit of trouble motivating myself to make it though. As always, I was willing to give it a go, but frankly didn't have very high expectations. Finally, this evening, I dragged myself off the couch (and away from the suddenly very effective fast food ads on TV) and into the kitchen.

The trouble I always have with spinach is that, however much I wash it, it still seems to be gritty. Determined to avoid a gritty soup, I placed all my spinach leaves in the sink, and rinsed them repeatedly.

The next step is to sauté onions and garlic in butter. Normally I'd substitute canola oil as a healthier option, but, this time I stuck with the butter, feeling like I needed to keep in as much flavour as possible. The delicious smell was an added bonus: suddenly, the soup didn't seem so unappealing anymore.

When my onion was cooked through, I added the spinach, along with chicken stock, salt and pepper. I hadn't used a particularly large saucepan, and had to stuff all the spinach in. Luckily, spinach wilts down quite quickly, or I might have been in trouble.

I got the soup boiling and left it simmering for ten minutes. At the end of this time, I added a little sugar, then transferred the soup to my food processor.

What I had taken off the stove was a saucepan full of anaemically green liquid with soggy leaves floating in it. Surprisingly, pureeing this mixture only made it look less appealing - a bit like a watery spirulina drink. I was not particularly keen to try it, but I soldiered on, adding nutmeg and stirring a very generous dollop of yoghurt through the portion I ladelled for myself.

Since the soup was so watery, the yoghurt just sank straight to the bottom. I had a go at stirring it through, before sitting down and trying a spoonful.

Would you believe it was actually quite pleasant? I'd put in enough yoghurt to add a noticeable tang to the flavour, but I could also taste the nutmeg and those buttery onions. Oddly enough, the spinach itself seemed to be mostly a background flavour. I ate the entire bowlful quite happily, and will probably take some for lunch tomorrow.

So there you go: even when you're convinced a dish is going to be awful, it can turn around and surprise you. Guess you shouldn't judge a soup by its colour...

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