The weather is turning cold here again--the high was only 61 degrees at our house today. (For those of you who are buried under snow, I DO know the reality is that you would be prancing around in your Speedo if you were here, really enjoying this. My feet, however, are only warm when they are in a bathtub full of really hot water, and this is my blog, so 61 degrees is cold!!!! We now return to the regularly scheduled blog post.) Given the fact that I needed warming up from the outside in, coupled with my intense desire to try several recipes from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, I decided that this was the time to make Soup of Fresh Greens and Alphabets. And what goes better with soup than hot bread? Nothing--which gave me a chance to test drive another new cookbook, rebar modern food cookbook. One of their many claims to fame is their Rosemary Garlic Foccacia, which sounded like just the thing to go with my soup.
I started by making Cheater's Homemade Broth from The Splendid Table. I started with a base of No Chick'n Broth, and freshened it by simmering with white wine, tomatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and bay leaves. After half an hour in the pot, the solids were strained out, leaving behind a very rich, golden broth which served as the base of this soup, along with several others in the cookbook.
Next, the strained broth went back into the pot with wine and crushed tomatoes, followed after a quick simmer by finely chopped escarole, chickpeas, minced onion, garlic, and basil. At this point, the soup calls for a 20-minute simmer. Although I did have a solid simmer going, it took 40 minutes for the greens to begin to "melt" and the onion to lose its crunch. I wouldn't hesitate to up the heat the next time, but I would still plan on a bit more than the 20 minutes called for. Once the simmering is done, a mere half cup of dried small pasta is added to the simmering soup, where it cooks until it is al dente.
In the meantime, I started the foccacia, setting it out for its first rise just before I started the Cheaters Broth. To give you an idea of just how much extra cooking time was required, the foccacia came out of the oven just as the soup reached a point of being edible. Yes, two complete rises, the shaping of the foccacia, and the prebaking rise--all to get the "quick" soup on the table. I have modified the recipe extensively from what was in the book, and will probably make it again with my modifications to see if I like it better. I've cut the oil and the amount of salt which tops the foccacia. I would also do caramelized onions with the garlic, and cut way back on the rosemary, possibly even replacing it with sage. Some chopped kalamata olives would be good, as well, if your husband doesn't gag on sight of them like mine does.
I wish I had glowing reviews for either of these recipes. They were both okay, but only okay. The Husband's comment about the soup was, "Well, we should eat all of it, but I wouldn't make it again." I liked it better than that, but not enough to make it my secret dinner on nights when he isn't home. So, that is two for two disappointments from The Splendid Table cookbook. I do have a couple more recipes to try from there, which hopefully will turn things around to a winning streak, as there are LOTS of recipes I've marked to try. Stay tuned. I'll keep you "posted." (Yes, folks--that's blog humor there.)