Potato Escarole Soup

with tomatoes
heartier version

Normally I consider myself pretty brave when it comes to food. I'll try almost anything.
I eat food cooked with small amounts of shrimp, crab, lobster and abalone, all of which I'm allergic to (I'm still finding the fine line of how much I can eat without getting violently ill.)
I've embarked on a mission to find the enjoyment in foods I couldn't stand; mayonnaise, horse-radish, tomatoes, blue cheese, raw onion, and I love them all now- next up I brave sardines.

But when it comes to raw escarole I am a complete wimp, the stuff is just too... something; spicy, bitter, pungent? And this from the woman that likes straight vinegar.

Lately my wonderful farm box has been coming with a huge bag of escarole, so I needed to find a way to eat it. It turns out escarole is fantastic if you cook the hell out of it.

lots of escarole
so much escarole

As fall really sets in and the weather turns cold I find myself craving soup and missing greens. As luck would have it the strong flavor of escarole (and the whole needing to be cooked to death thing) works perfect in soup, so I present Potato Escarole Soup:

You will need:
  • 6 cups escarole, give or take
  • 4 cups broth, I used chicken
  • 1 cup soy or real milk
  • 1 medium onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 3 cups potatoes, cut into slightly larger than bite-size
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot and add the onions. Cook them over low-medium heat until they begin to caramelize. This might take up to 15 minute, but a good pot means you can pretty much wander around chasing shiny objects and neglecting the soup.

  2. calphalon stock pot
    I love this pot

  3. Add bell pepper and garlic, cooking until fragrant and slightly browned.
  4. dump in the escarole, turning the pile frequently as it wilts.

  5. wiltingcolorful
    versions one and two
  6. Once the escarole is fairly wilted (it will reduce by about %300) add the broth.
  7. Take your hand immersion blender and blend away. If you don't have an immersion blender, go through the process of blending the soup in small batches, careful not to let it get too hot and not to burn yourself.

  8. emerald greenheartier version
    more and less blended

  9. Add the potatoes and simmer soup until the potatoes are cooked. Or, if you're me, add potatoes then forget you were making soup. Wander into the kitchen every so often and wonder aloud what that tasty smell is. Realize over an hour later that you were still making soup. Lament it no longer has a beautiful emerald color, but rejoice it still tastes fine.
  10. Serve garnished with red pepper flakes, a pinch kosher salt, and a few drips red wine vinegar.
This recipe made enough for 6 bowls of soup. I put half in the fridge to eat that week, and froze the other half for later.

ready to freeze

I used chicken broth, but I like recipes that can easily be made vegetarian or even vegan. Alternately, I made a second heartier anti-vegan batch later with these variations.
  • Use some bacon fat or cook a chopped up strip of bacon before caramelizing the onion
  • Leave out the garlic, add some chopped tomatoes in with the escarole.
  • Don't blend the soup quite as much, leaving it chunkier.
  • Use 1/2 & 1/2 or cream instead of soy milk, (I forgot to put it in before taking the picture)
  • It just occurred to me, but adding sauteed mushrooms (after blending) would add great flavor

with tomatoes


Delicious Lamb or "buut Liisaaa, you saiid you looooved me"

Lately I've been craving lamb. I've also been feeling pretty lazy kitchen-wise. My solution was marinaded roasted veggies and lamb. I only used a few dishes, and made enough food for four meals.

First off is the marinaded lamb.

lamb in marinade
So the picture looks kinda gross, but it tasted great.

For the lamb marinade I combined
  • one cup nonfat Greek-style yogurt (Fage Total is awesome)
  • one clove minced garlic
  • juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • a pinch kosher salt
I put about a pound of lamb stew meat in the marinade, cover it and got to work on the rest of the food. Next time I'd splurge for a better cut of meat, and have the butcher chunk it for me since the stew meat can be a bit dry if you don't actually cook in in a stew.

Next up were eggplant and onions.

eggplant and onion
sorry for the plastic glare

Roughly cut one medium eggplant and a large yellow onion into wedges and put in a large ziploc bag or a bowl you can toss the it all around in. I added the marinade straight into the bag one ingredient at a time, and just tossed it around a few times over the hour or so it marinaded.

Marinade for eggplant and onions:
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (has a great sweet and sour earthy flavor)
  • kosher salt

Last up were the green beans and bell pepper.

beans and peppers
Beautiful beans

I marinaded one lb green beans (blossom end snapped off) and 2 or 3 large red/yellow bell peppers cut into thick strips in:
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh rosemary
  • a splash red wine vinegar
This marinade didn't overpower the natural sweetness of the peppers or the beans, and the splash of vinegar really livened the whole thing up.

I let the three parts of dinner marinade away while I ran around the house being distracted by random shiny objects. (About an hour)

The first thing I cooked was the lamb, partly because meat is better if you let it rest a while after cooking, and because I was only using one baking sheet to cook everything (not just laziness, we have a small oven with only one shelf) and decided that the lamb's juices would enhance the flavor of everything else. (Mmmmm lamb juices...)

I preheated the broiler and spread the lamb out on a foil-lined high-sided baking sheet. I put it 6 inches from the broiled flipping it over after 6 or seven minutes, and cooked for about 15 minutes total, although it probably was done after 10. I still have a proclivity to overcook meat on my first try with something new, still learning after 13 years not touching the stuff.

I switched the oven to bake at 350 and moved the cooked lamb to a bowl and covered it with foil.

Next I spread out the eggplant and onions of the same baking sheet and roasted them for 15 minutes, before stirring them around and roasting longer. I think they cooked for about 1/2 hour total, stirring more often over the last 15 minutes. I scraped them off the sheet into another bowl and covered.

Last to cook were the beans and peppers I roasted them for 10 minutes on one side, stirred up and roasted another few minutes.

As I cook I try to keep a pretty close eye on the roasting veggies, because in my experience thing can go from perfect to burnt or mushy with the slightest distraction (you don't want to know how many times "it need about 45 more seconds under the broiler" has turned into "oh shit where is all that smoke coming from!?")

I made a really quick tzatziki to serve the food with.
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 large cucumber (skin on) finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • juice 1/4 meyer lemon
  • 1 or 2 finely chopped mint leaves
  • tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
The combo of herbs I used isn't totally traditional, but it's what I had on hand, and ended up tasting great.

To serve I put the lamb and veggies on some white rice, and topped with a scoop of the tzatziki.

lamb, tzatziki & roasted vegetables
the finished product