There might be a more pleasant way to while away the small hours between midnight and 3 a.m. than riffling through cookbooks and marking recipes with wee Post-It flags, but I'm not sure what it is. Or, if it exists, I'm probably too old and too domesticated for it.
Last night was spent in a sexless orgy of recipification, making lists of thirty or so soups (of the 365) that I'll be making over the next year. I'm trying to find a balance between meat and veggie (with the occasional foray into veganism), first-course and main-dish, complicated enough to warrant the Project title and simple enough to throw together on a Wednesday before hosting Quizissippi*. I definitely welcome suggestions for favorite soup recipes if you want to send them my way; just let me know. 365 soups is a hell of a lot of recipes.
I'd never eaten the classic Greek soup avgolemono before, but I felt like this rendition (from Gourmet Today) was pretty worthwhile. It's definitely a first-course soup, and it has a little bit of a fussy fancy-restaurant feel (without the fancy-restaurant demand on time or resources). The pronounced lemony bite is unusual and works wonderfully as a lead-in to a creamy, eggy or otherwise substantial main course, while the slight thickening from the egg and rice gives it just enough heft to differentiate it from a basic brothy soup. I ate mine up; Jim ate his up; Fisher ate his up; Rhys picked at his (probably because he got the "for photo" bowl with the rococo dill garnish) and then Fisher ate Rhys' up.
We followed it with this stellar Spinach Torta with Potato Crust from Deborah Madison's demanding but all-around excellent Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (The first instruction for this recipe is "Neatly peel the potatoes with a paring knife," which convulsed me with laughter. Yeah, I'm going to peel four large potatoes with a damn paring knife. "Neatly," to boot.) Jim made it and it was seriously delicious. It was intended, originally, to feed us tonight and possibly tomorrow, but we devoured the whole thing. Looking forward to using this springform-pan potato-crust technique with a variety of fillings (leek & Gruyere, anyone? roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella?)
To the soup, y'all! (Easily, obv., made in either a flesh-consuming or vegetarian version.)
(original recipe served 8; I halved it and there was no problem)
3 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup long- or medium-grain white rice
1 egg, brought to room temperature
Juice of one lemon
About 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus additional fresh sprigs of dill for garnish
Combine stock, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in rice; return to boil; reduce heat to low, cover and cook until rice is just tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
In a medium bowl, beat egg with an electric mixer on high speed until it is pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Still beating, drizzle in lemon juice; mixture will thicken briefly and then thin out a little. Remove 1/2 cup hot stock from pot; drizzle into egg mixture, beating constantly. This step tempers the egg and keeps it from curdling in the next step.
Whisking vigorously with a wire whisk, drizzle egg mixture into soup. Keep whisking until all looks smooth and lovely. Stir in chopped dill. For optimal presentation, skim foam from soup before ladling into bowls. Garnish, if you like, with a few sprigs of dill (though you may wish to garnish not quite so determinedly as was done for the above photo), and serve it forth.
* as I announce every week, "the best trivia quiz on Mississippi Avenue at 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights, guaranteed."