Thursday, May 7, 2009

Soup and bread.

Some odds-and-ends have been knocking around in my fridge for several days now. Three broccoli stems, their leafy florets long gone. Four or five leeks, some fat, others spindly, their leaves yellowing and wrinkled at the ends. Half an onion, peeled and wrapped in plastic. One red potato. One Yukon Gold potato. A pot of chicken broth from last week's roast chicken. (I ate the wings and drumsticks, then the thighs and other bits of dark meat, then some of the breast, then froze the rest of the breast for...something else). Time for potage aux legumes. Also known as clean-out-the-vegetable-drawer soup. But first I have to get the bread going.

The bread dough has been rising away since last night; when I stick a spatula in the dough it pulls away in stringy threads. After some folding and stretching and sprinkling with flour, it forms a round ball, which I dust with more flour and dump into a bowl. On to the soup. I chop the onion and leeks, and peel and slice the broccoli stems and potatoes. The broth simmers away; I take out the bones, ladle out about a quart of broth to freeze for later. The chopped leeks and onions are caramelizing in a little butter, and when they are ready I slide them into the broth with the potatoes and broccoli. I scrape the bread dough into a preheated Pyrex pot, and it hisses as it settles into the hot pot. It goes into the oven, and the soup continues to simmer away. In an effort to turn over a new leaf, I start cleaning up the kitchen now, instead of...tomorrow night. Hunger overtakes me, and I break for a handful of almonds, a few potato chips.

While the bread finishes baking I puree the soup in my food processor. It takes no time at all, and soon I have a thick, creamy soup, which I eat while watching The Enchanted April, a movie I have not seen for many years but is as lovely as I remember it. The bread is not quite ready as I eat my soup, but finally it has cooled enough for me to slice open (really it should cool for a couple of hours, but I don't have that kind of time). This time I used a two-quart covered Pyrex dish, much smaller than what is recommended, so the dough filled the entire pot, pushing against the lid, taking on the perfect round shape of the dish. The bread had a fluffy, slightly moist crumb; still warm, it didn't even need the butter, but I ate it with butter anyway. It was delicious.

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