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Spinach Soup with Crème Fraîche



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Spinach Soup with Crème Fraîche

The Cook and the Gardener:
A Year of Recipes and Writings
from the French Countryside

Amanda Hesser, 1999, W. W. Norton & Company
Winner of the2000  IACP  Cookbook Award - Literary Food Writing

“There is a lot to distrust in a murky, mossy-green liquid…
This soup can be served hot or cold and is lovely in the summer, too”

Serves 4

Special equipment: Food processor or immersion blender

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallot lobes, minced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound spinach, stems removed, leaves washed
4 cups Spring Stock (recipe follows) or
a mixture of half canned low-sodium
chicken stock, half water
Coarse or kosher salt
1/2 cup Crème Fraîche

1. In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and herbs, and soften them to bring out their aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Add
the spinach and stir to wilt the leaves. Pour in the stock and season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf and discard.
2. Puree in batches in a food processor or directly in the pan with an immersion blender. The soup should be somewhat thick, coating the
back of a spoon, but loose enough to fall easily from the spoon. Add
more stock if necessary. Season to taste and ladle into four bowls.
Spoon a dollop of crème fraîche in the center of each bowl and serve.

Spring Stock

“Believe it or not, your butchers do still have bones for sale [but not for free, like
in the good old days]. They usually keep them in the back and are sure to give you
a funny look when you request them, but they’ll get used to you. Supermarkets
have them too. I think of stock as a seasoning, something I have on hand to enrich sauces or to smooth out any rough edges of a stew, soup, or braised dish. It is easy
to make and then yours to play with. This stock is light but zingy, thanks to the lemon peel. It harmonizes with any of the spring dishes, but don’t feel guilty if you don’t have time to make it; store-bought veal or chicken stock works just fine.”

Makes 1 1/2 – 2 quarts stock

 3 pounds veal or beef bones
Water to cover bones plus 4 quarts water, divided
1 bay leaf
3 branches rosemary
2 strips lemon peel (about 2 inches long),
made with a vegetable peeler
1 leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and washed
1 onion (unpeeled), cut in half through the root
4 cloves garlic
5 black peppercorns

1. If the butcher hasn’t already done so, break up the bones with a cleaver, cutting open the joints so they will release their gelatinous marrow while cooking. Place the bones in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a
boil. As the water comes to a boil, you will see why I’ve added this extra
step; to bring to the surface the green-gray scum released when the bones
are exposed to heat. When the water is almost to a boil, drain the water
and rinse out the pot, then add the bones back to the clean pot.
2. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, and lemon peel to the pot with the leek,
onion, garlic, and peppercorns. Cover with 4 quarts of water and heat, uncovered, until bubbles begin finding their way to the surface – this
usually begins on the edges. Never let your stock come to a full boil
or it will be irreversibly cloudy. For a crystal-clear stock, turn down
the heat once the stock begins to percolate, and simmer extremely
gently for about 4 hours, or until reduced by half. Do not stir. Strain
through a fine-meshed strainer into  a bowl and let cool before re-
frigerating. Skim off any fat before using. If you find there is a lot of
gelatinous substance with fat, great! It means you’ve boiled the stock
long enough for the bones to release their gelatin – do not skim it off.
The gelatin will give body to your dishes.
3. Before being used in any of the recipes, it is a good idea to heat the
stock to the boiling point and then simply keep it warm until needed.
You’ll find this speeds recipes like soups because it is less of a tem-
perature shock to the base ingredients you cooked before adding
the stock and will take less time to come back to the boil.

Storing stock:  This stock may be stored in a covered container for up to 1
week in the refrigerator, It is unlikely, though, that you will use this much
stock in 1 week. Freeze it in useful amounts like quarts. This can be done
in plastic containers or strong plastic bags, which should all be labeled
with the date.
Stock will keep for up to six months in the freezer. To defrost the stock,
set the container or the bag (in a bowl in case of leakage) in the
refrigerator overnight.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Jacques Pépin's Oyster and Spinach Soup
Julia Child's Cream of Asparagus Soup
Bayona's Garlic Soup
More from Amanda Hesser

Index - Soup Recipe Archives
Basic Stock Recipes
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