Thursday, April 12, 2012

Parmesan Sock Soup

I was probably ten when my father took me inside my first cheese shop in London. I recall standing outside a particular one in Covent Garden and being counseled on matters of etiquette before stepping inside: "don't touch anything and don't speak too loudly". His British accent has always been convincing. 

The clerk at the counter gave us each a slice of cheese to try. I remember watching my father so elegantly place the small cubed sample in his mouth, and then, in amazement, seeing his face melt into ecstasy. I was eager to do the same. And so I did.

Although I cannot remember what variety it was, I do remember those moments that followed once the cheese hit my tongue. And they were horrible. Absolutely horrible. Especially because I was expecting to be washed over with ecstasy the way my dad just had. Unwilling to be at the root of my father's embarrassment, I feigned a smile and buried the little nugget under my tongue,  waiting (a bloody century) for the most opportune moment to spit it out. I remember how desperate I sensed myself as the saliva began to accrue around this small, but pervasive piece of cheese. As we left the shop, and the little bell above the door chimed, I reflexively spat the bolus out onto the pavement in a way that may or may not have made Pavlov proud. And then I looked in horror as I watched it roll away, realizing what act of impropriety I had just committed. But before anybody could grow angry, I desperately explained that whatever I had been given had been an honest reflection of pure evil. Dad cursorily examined the chunk of partially masticated cheese and then burst into laughter.  "Oooohhhhohoohooo! it's the rind!!" he said, in his english accent. "oooohhooNoohooho! disgusting!" And so began my longstanding hatred for cheese rinds- akin to the distinct flavor of "dirty socks" as my father put it that day. 

But who knew that cheese rinds could actually be so delicious in soups?! Indeed, I now save my parmesan rinds in a bag in the freezer and toss them into soups to add richness and flavor to the base. 

For this vegetarian soup, you can pretty much abuse your artistic license and tailor it to whatever you have in your refrigerator. Furthermore, if you fancy being particularly lazy (as I tend to be) don't bother chopping anything up- it kind of adds a chic touch to the final product anyway.  

What you need
  • 2 leftover parmesan rinds
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 8 cups chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 tablespoons italian seasoning (or a divided combination of oregano, rosemary, etc)
  • a couple shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 5 carrots
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 1/2 head cabbage, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 can of beans (I used lentils)
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper to taste

Put the parmesan rinds in a pot with broth, whole onion, and rosemary sprigs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25 minutes. Add all the vegetables except tomatoes. Add the dried spices. Bring to a boil again, then cook on medium for an additional 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes. Add the beans, then a few tablespoons of parsley. Remove rosemary sprigs, rinds, and onion. Season with salt and pepper. I served it over 1/2 cup of brown rice to make it a more satisfying and nutritionally complete meal.
Serves 6. 154 calories per serving

Buon Appetito!

1 comment:

Elyse Homel Vitale said...

My favorite kind of recipe! Yum.