Friday, October 24, 2003

Spinach & Yogurt Soup Recipe


When I was growing up there was a good, inexpensive restaurant my family ate at frequently. They had a very simple menu, mostly fresh fish and burgers, nothing fancy. But every meal started with a salad or their famous Leek and Spinach soup. It was so popular that the proprietor put the recipe up on the window for all to see. As I recall it was a package of Knorr brand Leek and Potato soup mix made according to the recipe box and a package of chopped frozen spinach mixed in at the end. He served it with a thin slice of lemon on top. To this day I keep a package of Knorr Leek and Potato soup mix on hand, just in case.

What I learned from that recipe is that recipes don't have to be complicated to be good. Sometimes the best recipes are the simple ones. Certainly when ingredients are at their peak of freshness and are high quality, less is more. As an example, Italians rarely cook fresh tomatoes. They are so good raw they eat them that way. Canned tomatoes are for cooking but fresh tomatoes are for eating with just a bit of seasoning like fresh basil or salt, pepper and olive oil. Same thing with prosciutto. It is usually served as is, raw. Sometimes it's added to a hot dish, like a pizza, but at the end of cooking, just to warm it, not really to cook it. Why gild the lily?

So last night I was looking for a new spinach soup recipe to go with sandwiches for dinner. I wanted something creamy, but I had no milk in the house. I found a recipe that is the height of simplicity, but very delicious. As per usual I made several changes. The recipe called for frozen spinach but I used fresh, which gave it a much lighter fresher flavor. I also eliminated the tarragon, which I don't think the soup needs. Finally the recipe called for heating the soup after adding the yogurt, but I didn't find it necessary. The soup does not need to be scalding hot to be good. I leave it up to you to decide what to change from my recipe below.

Spinach & Yogurt Soup

Ingredients

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon flour
pinch of salt
A couple pinches of nutmeg or 1/3 of a nutmeg, grated
Dash cayenne
I lb fresh chopped spinach, do not dry the leaves after washing
1/2 of a 15 ounce can of canned chicken broth
Unflavored yogurt
Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions

In 6 quart saucepan, saute onion in butter until soft but not brown.

Mix in flour, salt, nutmeg and cayenne. Cook until bubbly.

Add the spinach in batches, with broth. Cook until the spinach melts and cooks down, turning a bright dark green.

Place in blender, about 1/3 at a time (I used a hand blender right in the pot) and puree. Return to saucepan. Taste for seasonings. Ladle hot soup into the bowl, leave room for a 2 large tablespoons of yogurt. Whisk the yogurt into the bowl of soup until smooth and blended, with a mini whisk. Serve with a thin lemon slice on top.

Enjoy!