Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup

I saw this recipe in the October issue of Bon Appetit. I wasn't too sure at first, but I do have a lot of cornmeal, so it wasn't like I was investing much in trying it.

You'll notice that the first ingredient is low-salt chicken broth. I cannot stress enough how important that is. We're talking 3-5% daily value per serving. Henry's has it for about the same price as regular no-name broth. I thought I could get away with reduced-salt, which runs about 24%. Plus, I followed the recipe's instructions to add salt as it cooked. Way too much. Although I'm copying the recipe more or less as it appeared in the magazine, I suggest you wait until all of the broth is incorporated before adding any salt. The soup will still cook long enough to absorb the flavor.

If you can't find baby spinach leaves, you can make a chiffonade of regular spinach, to cut the toughness.

Serve all of the soup as soon as it is ready. It does not reheat to the same consistency.

6 C (or more) low-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
*3/4 C coarse cornmeal
3 Tb all-purpose flour
3 Tb butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
Kosher salt
8 oz baby spinach leaves

1. Bring 6 C broth to simmer in large saucepan; cover to keep warm.

2. In heavy large pot, whisk together polenta and flour. Add 1 C hot broth and whisk over medium-high heat until smooth.

3. Stir in butter and garlic. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Gradually add 5 C hot broth by cupfuls, whisking until smooth before each addition. Boil gently over medium heat until cornmeal is tender and soup is creamy and thickened, about 12 minutes. Add more broth to thin, if necessary.

4. Stir in spinach by handfuls. Simmer until wilted, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Season with more salt and black pepper to taste.

Serves 6

Difficulty rating  π

Update: 1/9/11

I gave it another shot, with low-salt broth and not seasoning until right before adding the spinach. MUCH better. I ended up adding about 1/4 tsp salt, which was just enough to bring it up from "kind of bland" to where it should be. I also garnished it with some grated parmesan. It was a nice accent, without hiding the flavor of the spinach.

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