Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

Just Veggin’ Out

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This week is the beginning of the soup category, and I am very excited. I love soup, especially during this time of year when the weather is cold and dry; there is nothing better than a good ole’ pot of hearty, warm soup to fill your insides. Anyways, as I always do, I scoured through numerous foodie websites to find the perfect soup; I was searching for simplicity and difficulty all wrapped into one. After a few long minutes of searching I somehow ended back on Pinterest. One of the links that I was looking at connected to the soup main page of Pinterest. I am slowly becoming a Pinterest fan. There are so many great recipes, of which it seems like there is an endless amount. Anyhow, I started to look through the numerous of soup options on the website. Once again, I was taking what my mom said into consideration: the greater the number of hearts the more tasty and popular the dish. I was looking and looking until I found the right one. It was the perfect soup to kick off this category. Not only was it hearty and considered an Italian soup (digging into my heritage), but it contained the simplicity and difficulty I was looking for. Italian Orzo Spinach Soup here I come.

Once again, before I started to assemble the soup I wanted to make sure that I was able to do everything that was asked. I knew how to chop celery and carrots, that was not an issue, but the onion was a little daunting. Chopping an onion is probably going to be one of the most common things to do when cooking. However, as mentioned all the way back in week #1 when I made my first appetizer, chopping onions is not one of my favorite things to do because I tend to cry and/or chop it unevenly. As a result, I went back to that website from week #1 to refresh my memory on the proper method. After visually seeing and going through all the steps, I quickly remembered the process of how to chop an onion. Last time I was not really successful, so lets see if I am able to do it this time around.

The recipe called for Orzo. What one earth is Orzo? Seriously, before I looked up what it was I initially thought orzo was rice. On the contrary, orzo is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice –probably why I assumed it was rice to begin with. In the directions, it said to cook the orzo. Well how do you do that? Obviously, this is a type of pasta that I have never worked with before so I went and did some online learning before assembling the soup. I found this website very helpful. Not only does it explain what orzo is, but it also provides directions on how to serve orzo and how to cook orzo separately or with salads and soups. Now I decided ahead of time that I was going to cook the orzo separately and than add it to the soup after it was al dente. The reasoning for this was that if I added the pasta to the soup raw it might soak up all the liquid/broth and become to heavy of a dish. As a result, I looked at the section of the website where is listed directions on how to cook orzo separately. Since this was pasta that I am very unfamiliar with I thought the cooking directions would be more complicated; however, they weren’t. They were literally the same as any other pasta. However, one thing that I didn’t know was you have to stir the orzo occasionally to prevent if from sticking together. As well, and this goes for all types of pastas, do not rinse the pasta, as rinsing removes a light coating of starch that helps sauces and seasonings cling to the pasta. That is one fact that I will remember next time I attempt to cook a pasta dish.

Another thing that I wanted to readdress before cooking this soup was the proper technique of holding a kitchen knife. As you all know from my documentation I am struggling to hold the kitchen knife properly. The way I hold our kitchen knives is comfortable to me but considered unacceptable and unstable in the professional world of cooking. Well I am no professional, but it is still good for me to learn the proper techniques. As a result, I went back to that LeCordon Bleu video to refresh my memory once more. We will see if this time around things get a bit better.

After a few memory jerkers and learning about orzo, I felt pretty good about this soup recipe. So I quickly assembled my ingredients, set up my station of cooking gadgets and got ready to cook.

Cooking Rule #1: Make sure you have all the ingredients prior to cooking. CHECK.

Cooking Rule #2: Always read the proportions and directions carefully (more than once and double check). CHECK.

Recipe:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small white onion, peeled and diced

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

6 cups of either chicken or vegetable stock

1 can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 ½ cups of orzo pasta

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

4 cups loosely packed spinach

Salt and black pepper

Directions:

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Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Chop the onion and add to the pot to sauté for 4 minutes, until soft. I am very proud of myself; I was actually successful at cutting out the bulb and chopping the onion! It was actually not as difficult as I made it out to be! Once the bulb was out, I was able to actually chop the onion without crying!

Chop carrots and celery and add to the pot. As I was chopping the vegetables I realized I was holding the knife incorrectly so I corrected myself. On the plus side, I only had to correct myself once, so I am slowly getting there. Once all the vegetables have cooked down a bit add the garlic. We have a garlic crusher in our house, which is very helpful when mincing garlic. However, I do not have a lot of upper body strength so it takes me a while to get the garlic through. Once the garlic is added to the pot sauté for an additional 4 minutes. Add chicken or vegetable stock, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, rosemary and stir to combine.

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While those flavors are marrying together, wash and dry the spinach. Set aside. As mentioned before, we have a salad spinner, which really comes in handy.

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IMG_1944In a separate small pot, boil approximately 3-4 cups of water. Once the water is boiling add the orzo and cook until al dente. As I mentioned above, you can either add/cook the orzo directly in the soup or cook it separately and add later. I decided to cook the orzo separately so that the pasta didn’t soak up all the liquid. Once the orzo is cooked to your liking, add it along with the spinach to the soup. If the orzo is not cooked all the way through that is not a problem, as it will continue to cook in the soup broth. Stir the soup until the spinach has wilted.

Taste to see if you need to add anything extra for flavoring. I tasted it and realized it needed a tad more salt and pepper. Serve the soup warm and enjoy!

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Oh my—is all I can say. What a great soup to make on a cold winter day! It was hearty, warm, and such a simple dish (it actually wasn’t that difficult at all). The flavor and the smells are truly heavenly, and not to mention that it is very healthy for you to. I made a good call on cooking the orzo separately as there was still lots of broth left, making it a delicious soup rather than a thick pasta dish or stew. My family loved it to! My parents even went back for seconds. My mom even saved the recipe for her own collection. I would definitely make this again! Maybe next time I will make garlic bread to compliment the soup. I mean who doesn’t like garlic bread?! In the end, I honesty wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe. If anything, I would maybe add some chicken or ground turkey to the soup to get some protein in there.

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It is going to be hard to top this recipe. So stayed tuned till next week when I attempt to make another delicious, hearty and warm soup.

Ladle Gator

 

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