The Recipe: Perfect for bridging the seasons, a homemade creamy spinach soup that's on the table in 30 minutes flat, a satisfying supper when topped with still-warm and easy-to-peel hard-cooked eggs. A great choice for Lent, St. Patrick's Day and Meatless Mondays year-round.
The Conversation: "In Between" recipes that bridge the seasons and our lives.
“There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground …”
It’s that muddy messy spot between winter and spring, when warm days flirt with our summer-drenched dreams, when spring snows dash our winter-weary hearts. For a cook, there’s no planning ahead. So I take it day by day, choosing light salads when the afternoon’s been warm, a wintry stew when fickle winds chill our bones.
So ‘in between’ recipes are much welcome and that’s how this spinach soup strikes me, and has for many many springs, a way to bridge the seasons and even our lives.
LENT The eggs symbolize birth and life, so the soup ‘n’ egg combination is a good choice for meatless Fridays during Lent. (More recipe ideas for Lent.)
ST PATRICK’S DAY Just for the fun of it, serve an all-green meal for St. Patrick’s Day festivities. (More recipe ideas for St. Patrick's Day.)
MEATLESS MONDAY More and more, omnivore eaters who are both health-conscious and environmentally aware choose vegetarian or vegan meals just one or two days a week. (More vegetarian & vegan recipe ideas.)
Plus, just in time for coloring Easter eggs:
To avoid these common problems cooking hard-boiled eggs, the trick is simple: just mind the clock. Yes, do set the timer for each step and you’ll end up with perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs with golden-yellow yolks.
- Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan, cover with water plus an inch more. (If you like, add a drop or two of food coloring so that later it's easy to distinguish the hard-cooked eggs.) Bring the water to a boil.
- Watch carefully, for once the water boils, boil for just one minute. Precision is important, set the timer!
- Turn off the heat, cover and let rest for exactly 10 minutes. Don't risk distraction, set the timer!
- Turn into a large bowl of very cold ice water for five minutes. Cold tap water works in a pinch, just be sure to keep the water flowing.
The eggs will peel easily now. To save for later, leave unpeeled and keep in the fridge for a week or so. Or – more Easter fun – make some gorgeous Ruby Eggs!
SPINACH SOUP with EGGS
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 5 cups
- 1 tablespoon butter (see TIPS)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 10 ounces frozen or fresh spinach (see TIPS)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup whole milk (see TIPS)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 5 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
(If cooking the hard-boiled eggs, start these first. They’ll be cooked and still warm by the time the soup is cooked.)
In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium high til shimmery. Add onion, stir to coat with fat, let cook until beginning to soften.
FOR FROZEN SPINACH While the onion cooks, thaw the spinach in the microwave. Add to the onion mixture and cook for about 5 minutes.
FOR FRESH SPINACH (my favorite) While the onion cooks, wash the fresh spinach very well by soaking and swishing in cold water. (It needn’t be trimmed but must be grit-free; to test, eat a piece of the raw spinach.) Stir into the onion mixture by the handful and cook until cooked but still bright green. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, adding some broth or stock if needed. Return the mixture to the saucepan. (Don’t waste the spinach left in the blender, just use the rest of the broth or stock to rinse it out into the saucepan when called for.)
Sprinkle the flour over the spinach mixture and stir in (don't just dump the flour in, you'll end up with floury lumps, if this happens work out with the back of a spoon or a whisk before continuing). Add the broth or stock, a tablespoon at a time at first, incorporating each addition before adding more. Stir in nutmeg and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Add milk and bring just to a boil but do not allow to boil. Season to taste.
Spoon soup into bowls. Place one or two egg halves in each, resting gently atop the soup.
ALANNA’s TIPS If the soup is for supper, a little extra richness is appreciated. Either sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons butter or substitute cream for some of the milk. Frozen spinach works fine but the soup’s color will be less green and the spinach flavor less pronounced. If using fresh spinach, bypass bags of prewashed baby spinach. The leaves are perfect for salads but too tender for cooking. Instead, use the ‘curly’ spinach usually found in open bins in the produce department. To skip the blender step, remove the stems from the raw spinach, then cut into ribbons. The soup will be more rustic but nonetheless delicious. The eggs work especially well when they’re warm. If I don’t want to hard-cook eggs, I’ll some times poach an egg right in the hot spinach soup.
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