Quick and Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup

Seriously, the title doesn’t lie. This soup takes only slightly less time than opening a can o’ soup and heating it up; even better, it tastes a thousand times better and doesn’t have the host of ingredients that stuff with the red and white label does, in addition to doing away with the allergens in that soup in a can. Did you know Campbell’s isn’t gluten-free? It contains wheat flour, in addition to 14 other ingredients. You can make your own in minutes, and do it to suit your preferences or needs. Need a dairy-free / gluten-free / vegan / soy-free / MSG-free soup? This is the recipe for you. Just substitute the cream for coconut or almond milk if you’re dairy-free or vegan, and the rest of those allergies are already taken care of. No gluten, no whey, no MSG in this pretty green meal.

Better yet, you can save on dishwashing if you do like I did, and drink it from a mug.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
yields 4 servings

ingredients:

1 ½ lb broccoli florets, frozen
1 medium onion, diced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, separated
pinch of nutmeg

directions:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan and sauté onions until golden and softened. Add 1 cup of stock, deglaze if necessary, and broccoli. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until broccoli is tender. Remove from heat. If using a standard blender or food processor, allow to cool for a few minutes and puree in batches to desired consistency. Return the puree to the pan and add the remaining 2 cups of stock, as well as the nutmeg, remaining tablespoon of butter, and cream. Stir gently over medium heat until soup is heated through. Serve plain, or with shredded cheese, sour cream and chives, or whatever your heart desires.

*Note: I’ve found that a couple of tablespoons (roughly) of white wine added to the soup after pureeing gives it a nice bit of extra body. (I keep leftover wine in the freezer in Ziploc bags for adding to soups and stews; it usually ends up as less of an ice-pack and more of a wine slushy.) However, if you’re not interested in the alcohol, leaving it out won’t hurt a bit.

A revival, with a promise. (Recipe – Torta Española.)

Yes, my dears, I know it’s been a while. Almost three months, in fact. And I have no excuse for my absence – a lack of Internet (old news), but more relevant, a lack of motivation and inspiration. Even beyond that, a feeling of not quite right – maybe I shouldn’t blog, I don’t belong, my blog is useless and the name is all wrong and it doesn’t even match my URL. (that really does bother me more often than not, but it’s my fault.) so I’ve been thinking this thing over in my absence: to be or not to be? Despite the trials of keeping up, I didn’t take long to decide to be. Especially given that my last post was the 100th post on boonie foodie (huzzah!).

Being, of course, requires more organization and discipline and I have considered that as well. And I want to address other areas of my life besides just food, too – other areas that are related to food – or rather, food is related to those areas, like the garden I hope to grow in the backyard, the farmer’s market in town and the eggs I buy from a county local; or the quiet decision to live more sustainably and what that really means for me and mine. The real meaning of words and using them to their best. And of course, bettering my photography skills to something besides “i takez pix.” (Maybe I’ll even build that DIY lightbox that’s floated through almost all blogs, one day.) The point of this creation is not only to share myself with the rest of the world, but to better myself in the process – as it was, I was just writing and posting to post, following an arbitrary internal desire to follow a schedule that never really manifested.

My first desire is to set up a more dependable schedule – one day, food; one day, gardening and green, maybe two; and hopefully Menu Plan Monday. It depends on how much I can find to say. Hopefully my schedule is finally nailed down enough that I can schedule posts on Saturday for the following week. I’ll be working on a buffer in the next two weeks so I can actually get this in effect. In the meantime, I intend to clean up the blog overall: visual design, tags, language – all but the content and the photos. (The really poor posts I can use later for slow-thought days – remake and retry.)

In honor of this revival, here is the first recipe I’ve been inspired to put up in quite some time. It’s not new to many, and it’s not fancy; what it “is,” is filling, cheap and lovely in its own homely way. Many people have made it and loved it; I am now one of those fortunate folks. Torta Española or torta de patatas (or tortilla de papas, or a combination of these as your preference or region dictates) is nothing more than a layer of oh-so-thin potato and onion slices lightly browned, then covered with egg and cooked as an omelet. Simple to make and as versatile as you like it, my only recommendation is that you make it in batches that are manageable enough to flip, or beware that yours may end up as ugly as mine.

Oh, and add cheese.

Torta Española

serves 2-4

ingredients:
1 medium waxy potato, thinly sliced
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper
5 eggs
2 tbsp water
2-3 oz cheese

directions:
Slice the potatoes and onions as thin as possible, using a mandoline if available. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when the foam subsides, add the potatoes and onions and season generously with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir to coat, then let brown as a single layer for 2-4 minutes on each “side.”

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Shake the skillet to settle the potatoe-onion mixture into an even, flat layer. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and turn the pan to distribute the egg evenly. With one hand, stir the eggs in one direction while shaking the pan in the other. Do this until the eggs thicken a little, add cheese, then let cook until the eggs are browned on the bottom. Flip the omelet and let cook until the center is just set. Serve warm with ketchup.

Green garlic cream pasta.

Though the title may read in such a way as to convey the use of green (i.e. immature) garlic, that’s not the case here. Instead, what I meant to say was that the dish itself is green, thanks to the use of spinach and peas. The spinach, especially if you’re using frozen like I did, will color the cream in the recipe slightly when cooking and create this pretty green sauce that will be left in the bowl and beg to be mopped up with crusty bread.

Then again, I wholeheartedly believe in the double-starch rule when pastas are served. It just isn’t the same without some crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bread.

Now, the recipe listed calls for whole wheat pasta and half-and-half, because I would ideally like to make it healthy while tasty. As the pictures show, however, I used regular enriched penne, and I will tell you that I used heavy (double) cream. The recipe is forgiving, and it was doubly tasty with added fat the heavy cream and enriched pasta gave me.

Oh, and before I go any further: Please forgive my poor color photo quality. My kitchen sucks when it comes to lighting.

Green Garlic Cream Pasta

original recipe

cooking time: 20-35 minutes (with proper prep)

ingredients:

1 c whole wheat penne, dry
1 pkg frozen whole leaf spinach, thawed and thoroughly drained
1 c frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 c half and half or single cream
1 tbsp olive oil
grated Parmesan (opt)

directions:

Cook spinach and peas according to package directions and drain. Cook penne until just al dente, then drain and rinse with cold water. Mince garlic and sauté over medium-high heat in olive oil.

Add drained spinach and peas. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low, add 1/4 cup of cream and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Add pasta and remaining cream.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let rest for 2-3 minutes, then serve topped with Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

I threw all this together on a whim last night when I realized I had no prepared lunch for today (necessity is the father of invention?). I have no meat in the house at the moment, but I had greens that needed using so I figured it couldn’t hurt to get a little extra veg in my diet.

Normally I would use more cream without a second thought, but I think the half cup here is just enough. It doesn’t overwhelm the green with creaminess, and the clove of garlic is just enough to flavor the dish without making it supremely garlicky (although if you like more garlic, throw some more in there). It was perfect to reheat at lunch today, and very filling.

In hindsight, I might add dried herbs to the simmer next time – thyme or rosemary or somesuch, and maybe a little lemon juice. I feel like there’s a flavor element the dish is missing to make it absolutely perfect. I just haven’t figured out what it is yet. If I do, I’ll tell you. If you figure it out before me, let me know, please. I’m dying to know what it is.