remedies fr yr maladies

With the CDC saying there's a particularly virulent strain of the flu going around—one not expected and therefore not covered in the vaccine for this season—odds are, at some point this winter, you're going to find yourself bedridden. You might, in that situation find solace, if not relief, in this recipe.

I tried as many variations on garlic soup as I could find. I wanted something, well… garlicky, but I didn't want it to be boring and one-dimensional. It needed to be robust and not thin and broth-y, without distracting unduly from the hero of the dish. What I've developed is a full-forced garlic broth, cooked with pasta and lima beans (for complimentary heft). It's finished by tempering eggs into the broth and serving with a swirl of raw kale pesto, bringing some healthy greens and a pungent raw garlic bite to contrast with the savory cooked garlic. This can all come together surprisingly quick, even under 30 minutes.

6 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs dark miso (optional)
1 cup small pasta (elbow, penne or rotini)
1 cup frozen lima beans (or peas)
2 eggs, beaten

5-6 large leaves lacinto / dinosaur kale, stemmed
2 cloves of garlic peeled
1 tbs pine nuts, lightly toasted
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 pinch crushed red pepper
juice of 1 lime

Toast the pine nuts lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often. In a food processor, compine 2 whole, peeled cloves of garlic with the pine nuts, kale, salt, red pepper and 1 tbs of olive oil. Pulse it until it is well combined, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a mixing bowl and fold in lime juice to taste.

In a measuring cup, whip the miso with a half-cup of vegetable stock until dissolved. Combine with the rest of the stock in a soup pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add garlic, thyme, bay and salt. Cover and simmer for 15 min. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente (stirring occasionally). Add frozen beans to the soup and simmer 1 more minute.

Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Working quickly, beat two eggs in a measuring cup, remove broth from the pot 2 tablespoons at a time and whip it into the eggs. Repeat until the mixture is hot, nearly as hot as the soup. You want the eggs to become tempered to the heat without cooking them into solidity. It might take upwards of two cups of broth. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the egg mixture.

Serve each bowl with a heaping tablespoon of kale pesto, and maybe something tasty, like a toasted baguette, sprinkled with parmesan.

It's worth noting that it only makes sense to make as much soup as you will eat in one sitting. The pasta will get overly soft in the fridge and the egg will separate upon reheating. That said, I do often make extra of the kale pesto and save it for a later, quick and easy meal of pasta with pesto.

i found that essence rare

Where I grew up, we considered the restaurant in the mall, above the Nordstrom's, fine dining. I only ever ordered one thing when we went: French Onion Soup. It came in one of those silly, single-serve, iron crocks—slathered in cheese. These are formative experiences I now find myself chasing down, trying to recapture. As a vegetarian, the task is doubly difficult.

French Onion Soup is a deceptively complex, savory meal. The traditional stock will often include 2 or 3 kinds of meat—to make up for the fact that it only has one ingredient: onions. I've tried various recipes and tricks over the years, but only just stumbled upon a method, this last holiday season, I call: re-stocking. I make a fresh batch of stock, but instead of starting with water, I use my standard, vegetable stock. Basically, the general vegetable stock acts as a base for a a more robust version, with a focused umami quality.

5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup red wine
1 tbs tamari
1 tbs red miso
6 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf

Soup, proper:
2 lg. yellow onions, halved and sliced
1 white onion, halved and sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 small batch green onions, sliced top-to-bottom
¼ tsp celery seed
olive oil

several slices dry, crusty country bread
emanthaler cheese, sliced (or grated)
fresh pepper

Re: Stock
In a large pot, combine all the ingredients for the stock (above) and heat on high until just boiling. Reduce the heat, cover it, and keep it a low simmer for at least an hour. As you start the next steps, eyeball the onions to make sure you have enough stock.

Re: Carmelization
In another good sized pot, over medium heat, cook the various onions (except for the green parts of the the scallions) along with the celery seed—covered, but dry. They will sweat some, then begin to dry out. Try not to check on them too much. After they've dried enough to begin sticking to the bottom of the pan just a touch, remove the lid and hit them with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. They should rapidly begin to carmelize.

Re: Combination
After the onions have turned golden pour your restocked-stock, using a fine mesh strainer to withhold any solids. Add just enough to cover the onions by about an inch (you may have extra based on the size of your onions). Simmer this, uncovered for another half hour at least. You want the onions to become soft as possible and to thoroughly mingle with the stock's flavor. Salt it to taste at the end. With the tamari and miso in the stock, you want to taste the final product before adding more salt. Meanwhile, set your oven on high, broil even.

Re: Complete
If you have oven-safe serving bowls, ladle a serving of soup into each bowl. Place a slice of dried, even stale, crusty bread on the top and then cover it with cheese. Place the bowls in the oven to melt the cheese, browning it slightly. Crack some fresh pepper over each bowl, garnishing it with green onion slices. Serve promptly.

Re: Route
If you don't have oven safe serving bowls, I'd grate the cheese, instead of slicing it. Simply place the bread on top of each serving and sprinkle a healthy dose of grated cheese on top. The cheese will melt more readily and generally be easier for the diners to deal with.

As the right combination of elements has proven so vexing—I'm still not sure quest is entirely complete—I thought a soundtrack about imposters, fakers and vainglorious delusions was only appropriate.