Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cream Soup and Spinach dish

I was looking through a book called Vintage Notions, which had images and projects from the 1920s, and among them were two recipes for cream soups. When I went for lunch with Karen in Skowhegan, they had cream of spinach and cream of tomato soup on the menu, and the whole idea just struck me as something good. So last night I adapted the recips a bit and made home-made cream of spinach soup that was quite yummy:

Cream of Spinach Soup

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp (+/-) finely minced onion
2 cups whole milk
1 cup spinach puree (see details below)
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
additional half-and-half cream to taste, or enrich the 2 cups milk by substituting some cream
goat cheese for garnish (or sour cream, or feta, or maybe Parmesan)

The original recipe did not have onion or cheese, but I felt that taste in the 1920s was a bit more bland than today's taste, so I added them.

Melt butter in 2 qt. pan, add onion and saute till just translucent. Sprinkle with flour and cook together. Add milk gradually, stirring the whole time. Stir in spinach and stir well to distribute. Season and garnish.

For the spinach puree, here's what I did. I looked for spinach baby food, but there wasn't any at Albertson's (don't know if there is any anywhere in the world.) The original instructions said to force cooked spinach through a sieve, but that sounded like a mess and maybe a broken strainer. I don't have one of those cone-shaped sieves with a pusher thing. I contemplated the spinach issue for a while and finally did this: Cook a half bag (or whole box) of chopped spinach. Allow to cool, drain out any excess water, but don't squeeze. Place spinach in blender and puree. Yeah, it's a bit of a mess to clean up the blender, but the puree had a lovely texture. About a cup in all.

I had chevre goat cheese in the fridge, so I topped the soup with that.

The same book had another recipe that I want to try:

Cream of Tomato Soup
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

make the white sauce as above. Add the tomato slowly to avoid curdling.

And also while I was in Maine, I had something called Haddock Olympia at The Last Unicorn, and the accompanying spinach was delicious and would make a lovely side dish on its own with fish or chicken or lamb.

Saute a pound of fresh clean spinach in olive oil and garlic. Add some lemon juice. Top with chopped kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese.

I also want to try to make a seafood chowder like the one at the Red Barn. But I won't have a lobster claw, sadly. (Unless I cook a lobster....unlikely.) Maybe crab claw? It had sea scallops, white fish, and lobster, in what seemed to be simply milk, cream and butter.

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