A few days ago we made up the menus for the week and they included an all time favorite of ours, once the winter greens start showing up at the farmer's market - Grammie Soup! It is actually a type of minestrone that my Grandma Rose would make with escarole, but we like it with a combination of 'sweet' and bitter greens. Today's soup has mustard greens, dandelion greens and kale. The soup lends itself to endless variations with the addition of rice, pasta, beans or small meatballs cooked right in the broth.
Grammie Soup(makes about 2 gallons of soup!)
3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 large bunches of greens, washed and chopped coarsely
3 leeks, rinsed well, cut into rounds about 1/8 inch thick
3 carrots, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced with green fronds chopped fine
3 ribs celery, diced
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP Fennel seeds
3 bay leaves
1 TBSP Dried Parsley or 3 TBSP fresh parsley finely chopped
2 tsp Dried Basil or 2 TBSP fresh basil finely chopped
2 tsp Dried Oregano or 2 TBSP fresh oregano finely chopped
Fresh ground black pepper
4 cups cooked beans (garbanzos, baby limas, navy beans, cannelini beans)
4 cups cooked small soup pasta like ditalini
2 cups cooked rice
1 lb. ground beef seasoned with oregano, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and bread crumbs bound together with 1 egg - make small meatballs (about 3/4 inch to 1 inch wide) and drop into the soup as it simmers
1/2 gallon chicken broth
In a large heavy bottomed 2 1/2 gallon soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, fennel seeds, a generous sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper and salt and saute for 4-5 minutes until the leeks are a softened. Add the carrots, fennel, bay leaves, and celery along with the remaining herbs. Cover the pot and 'sweat' the veggies on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring once about half way thru the 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a boil, add the greens. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the beans, pasta, rice or small meatballs to the soup. Simmer for 20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked thru. Taste the soup and correct the seasonings to your liking. Serve with a crusty bread topped with melty cheese or add some grated parmesan to the top of your soup in the bowl. Enjoy!
To go with our soup we are going to have some fresh baked pain de campagne thanks to Peter Reinhart's recipe in the Bread Bakers Apprentice. Bon appetit!