Dinner today only used a few items from our produce box, but it was my first attempt at one of my daughter’s favorites – Miso soup. (“What 9-year-old lists Miso soup as a favorite food?” you ask. Well, mine. She also likes MASH & Mr. Bean, what can I say?)
Our weather at the end of last week was very reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest and made me think of fresh clam chowder. However, since FRESH clams are not a common item at my house, and since fresh is the only way to eat clam chowder, and since I don’t really want to chop up little slimy clams to make my own clam chowder, I decided to make another recipe that originated from that rainy region of the country: Spinach Garlic Soup. Don’t stop reading right now if you are not a huge spinach eater – neither is my husband and it met his approval, and that of my daughter with her discriminating palate. I found this on allrecipes.com and then adapted it to our tastes.
One Pan Spinach Garlic Soup
1 bunch fresh spinach, trimmed and finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half & half (or ½ cup cream & ½ cup milk)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
In a 5-qt. Dutch oven, bring broth, carrots, garlic & onion to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool to lukewarm.
Add flour, butter & half & half; cook and stir over low heat for 3-5 minutes until thickened. Add spinach, bacon, pepper & nutmeg; heat through but do not boil.
Optional: top with grated cheese and croutons (we did, it was great!)
Now for my tips.
If you want to dirty another pan (???), you can make the soup look slightly less green by cooking the spinach in a skillet & a little oil just until the leaves wilt. Transfer them to a colander and let them drain before throwing them in the soup. I suppose knowing how to make your soup less green is good, but I am willing to deal with a little spinach juice in my world.
Nevertheless, if you pre-cook & drain your spinach, you could even use the same pan you used to brown the bacon in – except that I have discovered the wonder of pre-cooked bacon and all its fabulousness! (You could also brown the onions and garlic in the grease to soften them too. I just chopped mine really small and threw them in the broth.)
So, pre-cooked bacon is my first tip. Keep it in your fridge and throw it in soups, on salads, sandwiches, in casseroles, or eat it for breakfast. It really isn’t that different cost-wise, and you get the same number of slices per box. Yes, the unbaked weighs more, but unless you eat the grease that melts off when you cook it, you don’t eat all that weight anyhow.
Tip number two is to find pre-minced garlic in your salad section of your grocery store. It is usually near the pre-bagged salads and refrigerated salad dressings. It comes in either a squeeze tube or a little jar. You might have to look around a bit, but it is worth it. They also have basil, ginger and cilantro like this. We use garlic the most. These little containers last forever – unlike the fresh varieties – and make it so easy to use fresh ingredients when cooking instead of the flavorless dried versions that have been in your cupboard since you got married (admit it, you clean out your spice drawer even less often than you clean behind your fridge.)
So those are my tips for the day: pre-cooked bacon and refrigerated fresh minced herbs & spices, along with a creamy soup recipe that you really must try this coming week when the next rain storm rolls in and you need some comfort food.
So this is the basic recipe
You just mix the bouillon and water and bring them to a boil and then reduce the heat, throw everything else in and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. Easy peasy, right?
Now for some helpful details.
Being fresh out of dashi in our food storage, I used chicken bouillon instead. It worked out great and gave us a slightly more familiar taste that my husband, my daughter, her friend and myself all enjoyed in combination with the miso.
If you are new to miso, it is a paste that comes in a tub that is about the size of a tub of chip dip and it is in the refrigerated section of the store. (We looked on the room temperature grocery store shelves for ages before we learned this, so I thought I would save you some time because I am nice that way.)
Anyhow, the white miso is supposed to be the mildest, so that is what we used.
I made a batch of basmati rice (I recently learned a few tricks for cooking nice fluffy rice that I will share another time) and potstickers (gioza – I have no idea how to spell that) of the frozen variety. And I will share my trick for potstickers – cook them in the microwave and then brown them on the stove! I have always had trouble cooking these things, I know it is not supposed to be difficult to cook them in the same pan that you subsequently brown them in, but they ALWAYS stuck on me. So, cover them in water, microwave them (about 1 minute per potsticker) and then brown them. I microwave 5-10 at a time. They turn out beautifully, it is faster and so much less frustrating than the other methods I have tried.
We eat our rice & potstickers with Mr. Yoshida’s sauce. We like this so much that we buy it at Costco in bulk, but you can look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store if you don’t want 1/2 gallon at a time!
That’s our meal for today, let me know if you try it!