Friday, January 22, 2010

green soup

As an undergraduate reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse over forty years ago, I was fascinated by the "green soup" Mrs. Ramsey served to her houseguests. My quest to replicate it has continued and has produced much good green soup along the way, but still nothing that will hold up to the weight of that much interior monologue.

When I started running across recipes for caldo verde, I thought maybe this was what Woolf was talking about. That hope lives on, but so far none has passed muster.

BTW, split pea soup, one of my specialties, is not in the running. It can be green enough in a yellowish kind of way, but somehow seems too American and too everyday. Nothing that was served in one's elementary school cafeteria can be the stuff of literary allusion, comforting as it may be.

This rainy week, soup has been in demand, and so on Wednesday evening I made a spinach and coconut soup that may just rival Mrs. Ramsey's at last. Based on my favorite recipe for vegetable broth,* it was seasoned with hot curry powder and thickened with a whole can of coconut cream. A large bunch of fresh spinach leaves, from our local Farmer's Market, produced strong green color as well as the predominant flavor. A run in the blender or food pro would've provided the elegance I'd expect at Mrs. Ramsey's table, but her kitchen had to produce purees more laboriously, with a food mill or sieve.

If I ever make the quintessential green soup for a dinner party, I'll puree the hell out of it and let the interior monologue ROLL.

*8 cups water with unpeeled and coarsely chopped:

  • large potato;
  • large sweet potato or yam;
  • large onion;
  • large head garlic;
  • two carrots;
  • two celery ribs 
simmered in the crock pot overnight and strained. 

No comments:

Creative Commons License
POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License