Almost every evening when I start to cook dinner, I call out, "Anybody want to help?" As I talked about earlier last week, Mateo's been a little too preoccupied lately to jump in as much as he used to. But last night I called, thinking no one would answer me, but a few beats later, Mateo came bounding in, jumped on his footstool, stood next to me at the counter and asked, "What am I doing?" So I handed him a raw sweet potato which he promptly began munching on. When I asked him what it tasted it like, he said, "Uhhh…it tastes like a soap. And carrots." But he grabbed the end that I had chopped off and happily kept on munching.
We went on to make Green Soup with Ginger and Masa Dumplings, which was an ideal meal for chilly, rainy night. The crunchy, cheesy dumplings were certainly a hit, especially with the oldest man of the house. I had to laugh to myself as I watched Matt and the boys use them to dunk and sop every last bit of the soup in their bowls. I guess their daddy's Southern Boy gene was passed on after all.
Green Soup with Ginger
from Anna Thomas' Love Soup
1 large yellow onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 large sweet potato
1 large leek, white and light green parts
1 bunch spinach
1 large bunch green chard
3 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger, plus more to taste
2 cups good-tasting vegetable broth
2-4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
Chop the onion and cook it slowly in the olive oil with a sprinkle of salt, stirring now and then, over low heat until it is soft and golden, about half an hour.
Meanwhile, peel and dice the sweet potato and put it in a large soup pot with 4 cups (1 liter) water and a teaspoon of sea salt. Thoroughly wash the leek, spinach, and chard, chop them coarsely, and add them to the pot, along with the chopped ginger.
Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely tender. Add the caramelized onions when they are ready. When the vegetables are soft, add the vegetable broth (you can add less if you like a thicker soup) and decide whether you want your soup chunky, like this, or smooth. If the latter, puree the soup in a blender, in batches, or with an immersion blender until it is smooth.
Stir in 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper. Taste, and correct the seasoning with additional salt or lemon juice.
from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Soups
1/2 cup masa harina
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro (or oregano)
1/2 cup grated Jack cheese
1 large egg
2 tbsp. melted butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup whole milk (or water)
To make the dumplings, stir the masa, flour, baking powder, salt, and cilantro together with a fork to blend, then toss in cheese. Beat the egg with the butter and milk, pout it into the masa and stir with a fork to bring the dough together. Use your hands to gently form into a solid mass. Break off small pieces of dough and roll them into small balls about 1" in diameter. Heat 1/4" vegetable oil in a skillet. When hot, add the masa balls and cook for several minutes, shaking them around the pan until golden. Remove and set aside to cool on paper towels to soak up all the greasy goodness.