So I hear that it’s cold and rainy up north, and that can only mean one thing. Soup weather! It may still be in the 80’s down here, but we’re finally waking up to cool breezes. Nothing is more exciting than the end of a brutal Miami summer and the promise of blue skies and outdoor dining for the next 6 months. You may hate me if you wish, but you guys get Fall and snow on Christmas. It’s a trade off.
Not matter what the season, soup is my all time favorite thing to make. I love chopping the onions and garlic and the way they smell in hot olive oil. I love the warm simmering pot and the glossy look of the bubbling broth. And most of all, I love being able to taste and adjust along the way, adding more spice or more acid until it’s just perfect. So when I saw Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup in this month’s Bon Appetit, I knew it would be just the kind of thing I love.
Of course I changed a few things. Using roasted garlic instead of raw and arugula as well as spinach, for example. But I kept it close to the original because you don’t need to mess with such a simple recipe. The soup was warm and thick, perfumed with roasted garlic and full of tender greens. The last thing I did was add toasted Parmesan rindsfor surprising pockets of toasty salty cheese. All in all, the ideal soup for cold and rainy days.
6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
3/4 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
4 cloves roasted garlic, crushed (or 2 cloves raw garlic, peeled and crushed)
Coarse kosher salt
4 oz. baby spinach leaves
4 oz. baby arugula leaves
1Toasted Parmesan rind, cut into pieces (optional)
Bring 6 cups broth to simmer in large saucepan; cover to keep warm. Whisk polenta and flour in heavy large pot. Add 1 – 2 cups hot broth; whisk over medium-high heat until smooth. Stir in butter and garlic; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.
Gradually add 5 cups hot broth by cupfuls. Boil gently over medium heat until polenta is tender and soup is creamy and thickened, whisking frequently and adding more broth to thin, if desired, about 25 minutes. Stir in spinach by handfuls; simmer until wilted, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Season with more coarse salt and black pepper.
Ladle soup into 6 bowls, sprinkle with toasted Parmesan rinds and serve.
Makes 6 servings.