Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On Being a Grown-Up (and Green Ginger Soup)

Suddenly, thirteen days before my thirty-second birthday, I feel like a grown-up. It's not a bad feeling, per se, just a very imposing one, and it hit me early this morning as I stared out the kitchen window, sketching a spring garden plan in my head while waiting for the teakettle to boil.

Lately, my daily writing sessions have begun to morph into massive to-do lists, and my lunch breaks at the Farmstand—previously reserved for people-watching and leisurely book reading—are spent strategizing with wedding vendors, mapping out the weekly meal plan, or sneaking in a few pages of editing. So far, this new year is a year of lists and planning and organization...and as I type those words I can hear my mother's voice saying: "Remember how I told you you'd understand when you're older? Well, now you're older, and this is only the beginning."

Touché, dear mother. Touché.

So here I am, at the cusp of my thirty-third year, with ninety-five days to go before my wedding and two days left before my current freelance project is due. And somehow, though I won't say my blood pressure didn't rise a little as I watched those count-downs appear on the lines above, I feel like I can handle it. Last night John and I made a massive pot of soup that will last for at least two more dinners and a few more lunches...and this morning I started the very last batch of wedding favor preserves (this time apple butter with fresh ginger), which will simmer all day while I write this post and then get back to editing. (More on the wedding favor preserves to come.) Just as she was right about not working on the edge of the counter and washing dishes as you go, it turns out that my mother was also right about planning ahead and using my time efficiently (though that last one I should really attribute to my father, who named our family boat "The Time Manager"). I suppose I never realized until now that all of those lessons helped prepare me for these moments, when suddenly it hits me that I'm an actual grown-up...and that that isn't such a scary thing after all.

Before I get back to work, though, let me leave you with one of my favorite winter soups—a regular on our weekly big-batch rotation, and a perfect way to brighten up the gray winter doldrums. Very slightly adapted from 101Cookbooks.com, this Green Ginger Soup is rich with leeks, onions, spinach, and chard, and a sweet-spicy kick of lemon and ginger. One spoonful will leave you feeling rejuvenated, and the crazy amount of nutrients packed into the bowl (Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-6, iron, manganese, fiber, beta-carotene, folate, and more) will give your immune system just what it needs to stave off the next wave of cold season. This recipe makes enough for ten to twelve servings, and freezes very well, but if you'd rather make a smaller batch, just halve the ingredients.

Green Ginger Soup (slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

Makes 10 to 12 servings

2 large leeks, trimmed, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
2 large sweet onions, chopped
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 large bunch spinach (or 8 ounces fresh baby spinach), thoroughly washed and roughly chopped
2 large bunches green or rainbow chard, thoroughly washed, tough ends trimmed, leaves and first few inches of stem roughly chopped
6 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 cups vegetable broth
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the sliced leeks, separating the half moons with your fingers. Swish the leeks around vigorously in the water for a 10 seconds or so, and then set the bowl aside. 

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions with a few pinches of salt, and cook them slowly, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and caramelized (about 25 minutes). 

While the onions are cooking, place the sweet potatoes in a large Dutch oven or stock pot with 8 cups of water and 2 teaspoons salt. Add the spinach, chard, and ginger, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the leeks from the bowl to the pot. Discard the leeks' bathwater. 

Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup, covered, until the vegetables are very tender (25 to 30 minutes). Add the onions to the pot when they are soft and caramelized. When the vegetables are fork-tender, stir in the vegetable broth and bring the soup back to a simmer. Then, working in batches, blend the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve hot.

1 comment:

  1. Being a grown-up isn't so bad. Just hang on to the paracosm you created as a child. It's rejuvenating to visit the imaginary landscape we once spent most of our lives in.
    Dylan, Danielle & I were together a few weeks ago. We missed you. xo xo xo
    And that soup looks to die for and I'm definitely adding it to my Must Make list.