This week was busier than normal for me: Tuesday was tap class (our end-of-the-year recital is just over 1 month away), Wednesday a best-selling author came to town to talk about her book (and there was an amazing turnout–unbelievable, almost), and Thursday night Hubby, The Stinker, and I hosted a potluck for friends and co-workers to meet our new baby chicks. For potlucks, I usually assign a food theme when I send the invite. I do this because it’s nice to have foods at a potluck that all sort of go well together. For example, I’ve had an Asian-themed potluck, which opened the door to all sorts of great, flavorful food. And while I realize that there are almost just as many types of Asian food as there are particles in universe, all of the food went together well. The spices and flavors tend to be similar, even though we had Thai, Indian, and Chinese-influenced foods. Enchiladas would have been odd along with the stir fry, right? I went to a Christmas potluck once that was the weirdest assortment of food I’d ever witnessed. I brought my sweet potato casserole with praline topping, which is a standard Thanksgiving/Christmas dish in my house, and so I expected there to be other holiday-ish foods. Oh no. Not even close. There were chicken enchiladas. There was a huge fruit salad (which is normally fine, but in December, fresh fruit is not really in season in the Rocky Mountains so it was all very, very bland). There was a meat and cheese tray. In fact, outside of my sweet potatoes and the fruit salad, practically the only other vegetarian food there were some cookies (that I made). It was a disappointing potluck, especially given that the potlucks out my house produce some of the best dishes I have ever eaten. My friends know how to cook! Thank you, friends! And so back to the food theme for this week’s potluck: before sending out the invitation, I had to consult a friend for advice. The last potluck theme was chili and cornbread. What to do now? Since it is officially spring, though it might not look like it outside, we decided on a “Spring and Green” themed potluck. I was careful to point out that not everyone need bring salad, and there were no green salads present at all. We had a lentil salad, a quinoa salad, an asparagus and radish salad-like dish, pickled beets, asparagus enchiladas, green pea quiche-like tart, a stir fry, and my spring greens soup. Oddly, for the first time ever, two things happened: 1) everything was vegetarian and 2) there were no dessert dishes. Hubby was going to make a Dutch oven cobbler, but got tied up at work and didn’t have time. No one went hungry, though. The pickled beets were sweet enough that they were almost like a dessert.
The spring greens soup I made is one I first made a couple of years ago. It was inspired by, and heavily adapted from, a recipe called Bouillon with Rice and Herbs in Simply Delicious Vegetarian cookbook by Carla Bardi. It is the same cookbook from which I adapted my minestrone recipe. The original recipe is very simple: bouillon, rice, and a few herbs. That’s it. I thought it could benefit from the addition of a few vegetables, so I added some celery, onion, spinach, and green peas. It was good. Every time I made a new pot, I added something else, and I have finally come up with a reliable recipe. I normally do not favor brothy soups because I don’t feel fully satisfied unless I eat a lot (then I feel overly full and bloated…*sigh*…it’s a fine line). But THIS soup…this one has some gusto to it. I use brown rice and wild rice, so it has texture. And it has lots of veggies. It was my go-to soup after my surgery because I wanted something light and easy to digest, and I also wanted something low in calories, since I wouldn’t be exercising for a while. It received lots of compliments at the potluck last night, and I promised to send the recipe around to folks (I also promised to send the names of my baby chick breeds–note to self).
Spring Greens Soup (inspired by the soup Bouillon with Rice and Herbs)–will serve a crowd
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup wild rice
16 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable bouillon paste (I use “Better Than Bouillon”)
4-5 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
1 cup diced onion
2 bulbs garlic, minced or chopped into small pieces
1-2 tablespoons total of the following combination of dried herbs and spices (listed in order of most used to least used): parsley (~1/2 tablespoon), sage (~1 teaspoon), rosemary (~1 teaspoon), basil (~1/2 teaspoon), oregano (~1/2 teaspoon), paprika (~ 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (the bouillon adds salt, so you may need less)
4 green onions, chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach (or fresh if you’ve got it)
1 cup frozen green peas
Put brown rice, wild rice, water, and bouillon into a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 25 minutes. Add celery, onion, garlic, and dried herbs. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the green onions, spinach, and peas. Simmer until frozen vegetables are heated through and rice is tender. Serve with croutons and/or grated Parmesan cheese.