Things Food Bloggers Eat – 1: A Soup of Peas and Greens

Peas and Greens

I am feeling decidedly under the weather.  The weather in question is lead-grey and heavy and presses on my head like a concrete block is resembles.  I have the creeping suspicion I’ve caught a cold.  It is the sort of exhaustion that makes one uninterested in cooking or moving in general, but leaves one still interested in eating.  Or perhaps it’s just me, it takes a lot for me to lose appetite.  Which means I am eating out of the fridge/freezer for lunch today.  And that isn’t a bad thing.

You see, I’ve been thinking of writing a series of posts about food that a food blogger (this particular food blogger here) eats when she’s not making glamorous food that looks great and can be photographed classily during prep and prettily plated.  Because let’s be honest, no one without a personal chef eats like that on a daily basis.  Or at least I can’t imagine many people who would never have a blah day when sofa, blanket and something out of the freezer is about all they can or want to manage.  On some days, that means ordering a pizza or takeout, but I try to minimize that to really too-sick-to-look-at-oven situations, because 1. while the pizza here is quite ok, it tends to stick to my proverbial behind, and 2. it’s expensive for what you actually get – compared to cooking at home, obviously.

And besides, it’s not that every not-photo-opportunity meal is one had when ill.  Some of them – the majority, in fact, are what I’d term ‘simple daily fare’.  Except that, having talked to a lot of people, I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘simple daily fare’ is not one and the same thing for different people.  And while most of my posts aren’t what I’d call difficult or complex (I am not into that sort of cooking!), I’ve decided to photograph and write a series of posts about things this food blogger eats on a regular basis when the dish isn’t actually intended for a recipe post.  One could then, I suppose, point out that it would make all the dishes intended for such by definition, but I still know the difference, and trust me, when you’ve seen the approximated-and-abbreviated recipes and cooking times for the ‘daily food’, you’ll see what I mean.

In a way, this also ties into the long-ago post where I gave advice on stocking the pantry (and my long-ago promise to write about shopping for fridge and freezer as well), because what normally happens when I want to eat something quickly and without effort, is that I check my freezer for a tupperware box of soup or stew.  I normally freeze leftovers in neat lunch-or-dinner sized boxes rather than let them rot in the back of fridge – trust me, they are far more appealing a few weeks or months later reheated and spruced up with a grinding of pepper or sprinkle of grated cheese, than a week later found in the back of the fridge looking gelid and with mold growing on top!

When this method fails (i.e. all I can see in freezer are packages of deep-frozen meat and nothing I can just stick in microwave), I turn to the fridge and pantry.  However, that’s a story for another day.  The story of today is that I got my hands on that coveted box of soup, microwaved it just enough to unstick it from the box and finished heating it to boiling in one of our enormous (5dl) coffee mugs.  Because a mug seemed the more appropriate vessel for slurping it in a pile of blankets on sofa than a bowl, in an entirely soup-appropriate size.

On this day, the soup obviously came from a small box in the fridge, but it really is a very good, flexible recipe which I have made for many a lunch this summer, and which can be easily made with stuff you might buy and keep on hand in the freezer even in winter.  This soup literally comes together in mere minutes (I never timed it but it is very very fast!).  It has a fresh, herby flavor which persists even after deep freeze and reheating, and is really very worth making, eating and freezing for the eventuality of this sort of days.

What you need (makes about 1.5-2L of soup):

  • 1 onion, peepled and chopped finely
  • 1-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • A handful or two each, fresh or frozen peas and green beans, latter snapped into 2-3 cm pieces.
  • 100-200g frozen chopped spinach (I buy those very handy bags of it frozen in pellets and keep them around year-round)
  • A large double handful (5dl or so) of coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley.  I buy this in a Middle-Eastern shop because it’s cheap there, can be purchased by weight and is of good quality.  It can also be bought by weight out of buckets in most Swedish supermarkets.  I don’t recommend using the tasteless curly stuff here.
  • A few sprigs of any fresh herbs you have growing around your house and balcony, chopped
  • 3-5dl stock (optional)
  • A little cooking oil or butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Good extra-virgin olive oil to serve

What you do:

  • Heat oil or butter on medium heat in a pot.  Add onions and saute gently until translucent.
  • Add garlic and cook a few seconds until it just turns aromatic.
  • Add stock (if using), and enough water to make it up to 1.5-2L mark, and bring it all to a medium boil.
  • Add the peas, green beans and frozen spinach pellets and cook a few minutes until spinach is dispersed and peas and beans are heated through and turned luridly green.
  • Add parsley and other fresh herbs, and stir to combine.  The parsley should look bright blanched-green in seconds.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Ladle into bowls and drizzle with some good fruity olive oil to eat immediately.

To freeze, allow the soup to cool a little, and ladle into containers.  You can add some olive oil to those.  Cover containers loosely and allow to sit on the counter until no longer hot (warm is ok).  Snap the lids on tightly and stick into freezer.  Rejoyce in the future availability of soup when you need it!  To defrost, run tap water over container lid till it loosens (trying to pry it open when deep-frozen can break the plastic).  Microwave for 1-2 minutes until the soup is no longer entirely solid, move the soup into a bowl or mug and stir.  Cover and microwave until boiling, then add any olive oil if you feel like it, and there you go – one serving of delicious, healthy soup ready to go.

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