Monday, July 12, 2010

Swiss Chard Soup

This recipe came from my Aunt Kathleen many years ago and it has been one of my favorites since I was kid.

1 lb Swiss chard
1 potato
1 carrot
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 Tbsp oregano

Chop the potato and carrot into roughly equal size chunks, about an inch in diameter, smash the garlic and remove the peel, roughly chop the onion and the Swiss chard. I layer all the vegetables, starting with the potatoes and carrots into my steamer and steam for 20 minutes. This way they all cook at once and I can impart some flavor into them by adding fresh thyme. You can steam the vegetables any way you like or you can boil the potatoes and carrots and saute the rest. You just want to get them soft enough to puree easily. If you don't own a stick blender then puree all the vegetables together and set aside. If you have a stick blender you can do it later.

In a good heavy bottom pot combine the butter and the flour to make a roux.  If a dish has a roux in it, chances are good I'm going to like it, good roux making is an important thing to have in your cooking arsenal.Once your roux is ready, slowly pour in the stock and the milk and continue whisking to combine. Add the cheese and whisk for another minute then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, thyme and oregano. I add maybe a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, you can add more but start with a small amount and taste as you go, the nutmeg should not be a huge upfront flavor but should be hanging around in the background and making your brain say "hey what is that flavor? That seems a little different, I can't quite place you but I like you here, you can stay."

Once the mixture is heated through add your vegetables. Stir to combine if you have already pureed and then taste for seasoning. If you have not pureed your vegetables then stir them to combine for about two minutes, turn off the heat and use your stick blender to puree everything together.  If you find that it is a bit too thick you can add more stock to thin, you could add more milk as well if you want a creamier soup.

I like this soup hot or cold but I recommend you try it fresh first. Some good crostini or garlic toast is a real winner with this soup.

With the electric steamer it is a great dish for hot days like we have been having. Anything to avoid standing in front of the stove or running a burner for 20 minutes is a good thing.

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