Tonight I had the wonderful company of my good friend Kate over for dinner for some much-needed girl time. This is probably one of my favorite evening activities of all time — having friends descend upon my kitchen, sit on the counter, and keep me company while I slowly and distractedly assemble a meal for the two of us.
Sometimes we eat out at my big dining room table, but usually we end up sidling up to the long counter on padded chairs, where the stove is still warm and last-minute condiments are handy.
I’m thrilled to do this any night of the week, but when it so happens to fall on a Monday or Tuesday — my two official days off — there’s the added bonus of a fresh loaf of bread to nosh on while dinner unfolds.
The main event tonight, in celebration of wintry, cruciferous vegetables being in season and on sale, was a tangy broccoli soup, suggested to me by this recipe. It started with the usual suspects — yellow onion, leeks, and garlic.
These were sauteed straight in the soup pot with some olive oil and homemade butter, before adding a gargantuan head of chopped broccoli.
I filled the pot with broth (normally I’d use my homemade chicken stock but Kate is veg, so I went with Better Than Bullion veggie base), and let that all simmer together for awhile (about half an hour) before pureeing it in batches, in the blender.
The recipe I was working from suggests a delicious creamy garnish to use with this soup. I opted for yogurt as the base rather than sour cream, because I always happen to have yogurt on hand and hate to have to buy a whole tub of sour cream just for one recipe.
To a hefty scoop of yogurt, I added a few chopped scallions, the zest and juice of one lemon, a pinch of sugar, and the last few inches of a chunk of Parmesan that remained in my fridge.
The soup was a little too watery tonight to hold up to the garnish, but I have no doubt that for its revival tomorrow at lunchtime, it will be up to the test.
Meanwhile, I cooked a package of tricolor radiatore and tossed it together in a big salad bowl with some chopped celery, scallions, canned black olives, and parsley.
I whipped up a quick dressing of chopped shallots, olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and my favorite condiment of all time — Trader Joe’s red pepper and eggplant spread. Give this all a little shake in a jar and use it to coat the salad; crack some black pepper on top, and call it done.