Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Basics of Baking a Pumpkin Pie

Making a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch is easy to do. I like to try to avoid using lard and dairy products when possible, but feel free to use what you prefer.


1 pie pumpkin, peeled and chunked
1 cup of condensed milk (coconut, cashew, or soy milk for dairy-free)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon (Penzey's)
1 tsp nutneg (Penzey's)
1 tsp baking spice (Penzey's)
2 eggs

Crust (for single crust)
1 cup all-purpose flour (King Arthur)
1/3 cup leaf lard or shortening (Spectrum Organic)
1 Tbsp butter (Kerrygold)
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp ice water


First buy a pie pumpkin, preferably organic. All pumpkins are edible - even the blue and white decorative ones - can be used to bake a pie, but the pie pumpkins are sweeter. There are some French varieties of pie pumpkins that have some more complex flavors. I prefer to steam roast the pumpkin rather than boiling it to soften the flesh because this concentrates the flavor and produces some caramelization rather than the blander watery product that comes from the alternative.
Both decorative pumpkins (left) and pie pumpkins (right) are edible

Peel the pumpkin using a Y-peeler (they are sturdier and better for peeling any winter squash), making sure to remove all of the tough skin. Peeling first makes it easier to deal with now rather than having to remove hot peels off the roasted pumpkin. Seed the pumpkin - you can roast them along with the pumpkin drizzled in olive oil and your choice of spices. Chop the pumpkin into even-sized chunks (to speed cooking time), place in a glass pan or pie plate, and then cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350F for 1.5 hrs until soft. Let the pumpkin chunks cool to room temperature, and mash with a fork. 

roasted pumpkin chunks (and salsa verde)
toasted pumpkin seeds

Puree the pumpkin with 1 cup of cashew milk, coconut milk, or condensed milk, 1 tsp of ground cinnamon, 1 tsp pie spice, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1 cup of packed brown sugar, and blend the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Taste and adjust the sweetness. Scramble two eggs and blend again. The filling texture can be varied to be more firm and custard-like by adding less milk but an additional egg. I like lots of pie spice flavor, so omit the pie spice and use Mexican cinnamon if you like a less strong, less anise flavor.

Preparation of the crust

Making a good crust is about three things: 1) not overworking the dough after it's wet where gluten can form, 2) coating the flour in fat to reduce gluten formation, and 3) using the right balance of shortening to create shatteringly crisp crust and butter to provide browning and flavor. Personally, I prefer a mostly shortening crust because I like my crust to be flaky. I only use all butter crusts when I'm doing something like a pecan pie. I like to use King Arthur Flour because it's a great product and it's made by a Vermont company. The flour is grown up North, so it will be slightly harder (more gluten) than any grown in the South (why White Lily grown down south is conversely the right flour for biscuits). All bakers I've consulted use Kerrygold butter from Ireland. The dairy cows are 100% grass-fed, so the butter has a great flavor and healthier fatty acid profile than from grain-fed dairy cattle.
crust ingredients

Combine 1 cup of flour, a pinch of salt, 1/3 cup of shortening, and butter using the pastry blender until they are fine crumbs as shown below.

Add 3 Tbsp of ice cold water and combine by chopping through the mixture with the pastry blender until all the dough pulls up into the blender in folds.

To facilitate turning the pie crust onto the pie plate I typically roll on a piece of flour-dusted plastic wrap. Here I used a piece of parchment paper instead, which works too.

Press the dough loosely into a flattened disk. Roll the dough using a flour-dusted rolling pin until it is two inches larger than the glass pie plate. I like to use a French rolling pin that tapers toward the edges to do the rolling. When rolling, push the pin towards the edges with the palms of your hands rather than rolling back and forth where the dough tends to stick to the pin. Dust the top of the dough periodically to keep it from sticking to the pin.
prepping to roll (Made In Italy pumpkin spoon rest from Marshalls HomeGoods)

The dough can be rolled onto the pin with the attached parchment paper leaving one end free. Turn the pin over and unroll the dough across the top of the glass pie plate (darker metal pans are more likely to burn). Then remove the parchment paper by peeling the paper back at a sharp angle.

Gently push the dough to the bottom of the pan. Try not to create cracks in the center of the crust. Typically I fold the edge of the crust before adding the filling to avoid getting liquid on the crust where it can burn, but the technique is reversed here. The free edges should be rolled up to the top edge of the pie plate. Then, use an alternating pinch technique to create a raised crust edge. This technique isn't just pretty. It creates extra height for the filling to expand into, an opportunity to have a browning Maillard reaction that adds flavor, and the folding add additional strength and greater surface area to create more crispness.
Filling added prior to crust edge prep
Alternating pinch technique
Ready to go into the oven
The finished pie with slight browing of the crust
 Note that the dairy-free version of pumpkin pie is darker than a pie prepared with condensed milk.

Sprouts sells this Cool Whip alternative that's trans fat-free and dairy-free

Monday, November 9, 2015

Best Austin Pies 2015 (Eater)

Upper Crust 4508 Burnet Rd Austin, TX

How did I miss all of these pie bakeries in my many past trips to Austin? Has there been an explosion of new pie bakeries with the comfort food trends during the Great Recession? I've got my work cut out for me to try all of these:

Royers Pie Haven, Sugar Mama's Bakeshop, Bribery Bakery, Eastside Cafe, Elaine's, Mother's Cafe and Garden, Cake & Spoon at Franklin Barbecue, Odd Duck, Lucy's Fried Chicken, Dai Due Butcher Shop, Tiny Pies, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Olamaie, Blackbird Bakery, Pie Plante, Quack's 43rd St Bakery, Upper Crust, Peché, Hoover's Cooking, and Lambert's Downtown BBQ

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Texas Highways 2015 Top 5 Texas Pies

Texas Highways published their top five places for pie in Texas in the Nov 2015 issue (along with their pics for CFS, BBQ, burgers, Tex-Mex, seafood, and kolaches. They named Blue Bonnet Cafe (Marble Falls), Koffee Kup (Hico), Coffee Shop Cafe (McGregor), Texan Cafe and Pie Shop (Hutto), and Oxbow Bakery (Palestine, reviewed here a few months ago). #1, #2, and #4 overlapped with Texas Monthly's top 10 (also posted here). The pie news continues to raise my interest in visiting Marble Falls and the Hill Country.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Green Borscht

Since April I've celebrating celebrating all the independence days of as many countries as I can discover by finding a restaurant of its type in Houston or cooking something myself. August 24 was Ukrainian Independence Day. Since Ukraine separated from the USSR in the 1980s, the capitol is now Kiev and Ukraine's signature dishes are chicken Kiev, borscht (both the red beet and green sorrel varieties), holutubski, holodec, pierogis, and salo.

Ukrainian painted blown eggs or pysanky for Greek Orthodox Easter

decorative breads made for Easter in Ukraine

holodec or pork aspic is popular

Ukrainian borscht is not limited to beets alone but also has added eggs, potatoes, beans, etc.

holubtsi or stuffed cabbage

salo, a type of fatback, is a food of cultural identity for Ukrainians

So I decided to check out the Russian General Store in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston where many Russian and Eastern European Jews live to look for Ukrainian food. I love that they label all the foods with their country of origin and I found lots of picked and fried vegetables, prepared borscht, hearty dark rye and pumpernickel breads, sausages and preserved meats, gingerbread cookies, and unusual drinks (sea buckthorn fruit juice, kvass [a soft drink made from bread like beer], and koumiss [fermented mare's milk]). I picked up some canned prepared sorrel to make green borscht myself, since that type of borscht is not eaten in other parts of the former Soviet Union.

The haul from the Russian General Store

Some cat-themed nesting dolls sold in the store
fresh sorrel look similar to beets or Swiss chard
don't be confused with sorrel flowers used to make a tart drink in the Caribbean and Mexico similar to hamaica which is in also in the hibiscus family 

green or sorrel borscht

Green Borscht

2 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 leek or onion
1 bunch of sorrel leaves or one can of sorrel
¼ cup white vermouth
3 waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), peeled and boiled
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil and add bouillon cubes, carrots, leeks, sorrel, lemon juice, vermouth, and salt and pepper. Cook soup slowly for 30 minutes. Add sliced cooked potatoes and garnish with chopped hard-boiled eggs. Alternatively thin egg noodles and even cooked beans may be added to change the flavor of the soup. The soup is very lemony so you may wish to add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil or Kerrygold butter at the end to add some fattiness to balance the taste.

August Soups

August is a time when there is an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, corn, zucchini, and eggplants. During August I explored four soups with these themes: Provencal Rainbow Soup, Avocado Soup, Corn Tomato Pepper Soup, and Tomato Soup Florentine. These soups are easy to make and have lots of great summery flavor. The Provencal Rainbow Soup is probably the most colorful of the four, and the combination of anchovies and crisped bacon really creates a depth of flavor. Avocado Soup takes people by surprise because they may not imagine that avocados have a use outside guacamole and a taco topping. I like a little more heat so I used Hatch chiles in my version of Corn Tomato Pepper Soup. You can feel the transition to the fall with the inclusion of spinach in the Tomato Soup Florentine as the fall crop of spinach starts to appear as August's baking heat declines. Both of the last two soups could easily be made with your own roasted and frozen peppers and canned tomatoes.

mise en place
lots of layers of colors and flavor

Provencal Rainbow Soup

1 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, cubed
20 haricot verts, halved
1 4-oz can pitted black olives
1 anchovy filet
4 leaves of fresh mint
2 tsp olive oil
2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes or 3 fresh diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Peel the onion and garlic and slice finely. Cut the red pepper and zucchinis into small cubes. Cut the green beans in half. Slice the black olives. Chop the mint leaves. Pour the olive oil into a large soup pot. Add the bacon, onion, and garlic and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove the onions and continue to brown the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, chop into pieces, and return to the pan. Add the other vegetables, olives, and anchovy-mint mixture. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the sliced tomatoes, chicken stock, water, salt, and pepper. Cover the pot, raise the heat to medium, and let the soup come to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn heat down and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Avocado Soup

1 ripe avocado
½ skim milk or unsweetened soy milk
2 Tbsp scallions, minced
½ tsp lemon juice
1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/8 cup dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 cup cilantro, minced

Cut the avocado in half. Pit, peel, and cut into chunks. Blend the chunks and the milk in a blender. Add the scallions and lemon juice and blend again until smooth. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Turn off the heat and add sherry, salt, pepper, and half of the cilantro. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Pour the avocado mixture into the broth and mix thoroughly. Allow the soup to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Serve cold and garnish with cilantro.

Corn Tomato Pepper Soup

1 onion
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 ½ cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 ½ Tbsp tomato paste
4-oz frozen whole kernel corn
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel, slice, and mince the onion and garlic. Saute the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil, until they begin to brown. Add the broth immediately. Add the red pepper, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Lower to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the remaining ingredients (green pepper, tomato paste, corn, salt, and pepper). Stir soup until well mixed. Cover and cook another 15 minutes. Serve hot.


Tomato Soup Florentine

¼ cup olive oil
½ onion, finely sliced
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1 bay leaf
½ tsp thyme
1 bouillon cube
3 cups water or chicken stock
1 package frozen or 1 bunch fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated

Heat the oil and add the onions and tomatoes. Saute vegetables 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, celery, carrots, and herbs. Stir well and saute another 2 min. Add the bouillon cubes and water/stock and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaf. Add the spinach, salt and pepper and cook another 10 min. Stir well. Blend the soup until the spinach is fine. Turn off the heat, and let the soup stand covered 5 min. Serve hot topped with grated cheese.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Summer produce feels a little like being in Provence for a few months because the middle of the summer is a time to eat a lot of basil, zucchini, and squash. One way is to make a ratatouille. Another is to make Provence's answer to Italian pesto in soup form or pistou.

Flavors of Provence by Nouvelle Images

Soup au Pistou

5 cups water
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
6 haricot verts beans cut into small pieces
1 ½ tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
Sprig of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Pistou sauce
4 garlic cloves
5 sweet basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Place 5 cups of water in a large soup pot. Add all the vegetables and herbs and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for an hour, until beans are tender. Add salt and pepper. Simmer and stir for another 15 minutes. During final simmer prepare pistou sauce. Mash the garlic in a mortar and basil leaves and continue mashing with the pestle until well mixed. Add grated cheese and mix well until it turns into a stiff, consistent paste. Place the mixture into a serving bowl and add the olive oil gradually while stirring until evenly mixed or prepare in a blender or food processor. Serve the soup and let individuals garnish their soup with the pistou sauce.

Castle Downs Lavender, one of the biggest lavender producers in the U.K.

Seeing this image, I may be inspired to try to figure out how to make the lavender chess pie that was always a summer offering at Scratch Bake in Durham, NC.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Peach of a Cream Pie

Peaches are some of the most highly prized fruits of the summer. They have been the object of affection for the Impressionists and the Ancient Chinese.

George Daniel de Montfried "Peaches"

Henri Fantin-Letour "Still Life with Peaches" (1862)
July 7 is Peach Ice Cream Day. Who doesn't have fond memories of either turning the crank on a homemade ice cream machine full of peaches and cream or going to a peach orchard and eating cold peach ice cream after picking a bushel or two to take home to make peach pie, cobbler, and jam?

July 7 is Peach Ice Cream Day

Peach Cream Pie

My grandmother used to bake a summer peach cream pie that was a cream cheese base topped with fresh poached, sliced peaches. Since most of the components can be cooked on the range or are uncooked, you can make this pie without getting the kitchen hot too.

1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter
lemon zest
dash of salt

4 pkgs (3-oz) cream cheese or Tofutti
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp cinnamon

5 large peaches, blanched, peeled, and sliced
3 Tbsp peach preserves

Pastry: Combine in mixing bowl flour, egg yolk, sugar, butter, lemon zest and salt. Mix by hand and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate to harden.

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Combine cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and  cinnamon using a hand mixer or pulsing in a food processor to remove all lumps. Pour into the cooled pie shell and bake for 12-15 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned. Blanch, peel, and slice the peaches. Place the peaches in concentric rings, with all the curved sides facing clockwise or counterclockwise. Top the pie with a glaze made from peach preserves. Alternatively substitute a 1-lb 13-oz can of sliced peaches. Chill to set. Slice and serve chilled.

Peach  blossoms

Thursday, July 30, 2015

May Soups

Minestrone Monastico

Minestrone Monastico

Minestrone Monastico

3 qt water
3 carrots
3 potatoes
1 cup green beans
2 celery stalks
1 cup dry white beans
3 onions
1 cup olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup macaroni
Tarragon, fresh minced
Salt and pepper

Cut all the vegetables in small pieces. Add the beans and all vegetables except onions to a pot with the water. Cook covered over medium heat for 1 hour. Saute the onions in some of the olive oil until soft but not brown. After the first hour add the cooked onions, wine, olive oil, macaroni, tarragon, salt and pepper and cook another 15 minutes. [I substituted acini de pepe here, which created a creamy texture the first day, but was not as good the second day.]

Watercress Soup

Watercress Soup
Watercress Soup

2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 leeks, chopped greens and whites
1 bunch fresh watercress
2 potatoes peeled and cubed
2.5 cups water
1 vegetarian bouillon cube
½ cup full fat coconut milk (Chaokoh)
½ tsp white pepper
Chopped fresh chervil

Melt oil in large soup pot. Add leeks and watercress and saute gently for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute one minute more. Add the water and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer. Cover and simmer 30 min. Reserve some potatoes for texture. Puree the remaining soup on high. Return to pot and add the coconut milk. Salt to taste and add fresh chervil. Alternatively you can use 1 tsp Sunny Paris seasoning. 3-4 servings.

Shaker Soup

Shaker Soup
Shaker Soup

1 Tbsp coconut oil or other vegetable oil
1 Tbsp flour
1 6-oz can of tomato paste
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 onion, minced
2 tsp dried dill
1 ¼ cups water
1 cup full fat coconut milk (Chaokoh)
Fresh dill

Melt oil in large soup pot. Add chopped onion and saute until soft but not brown. Add flour and saute a few minutes longer. Add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, dried dill, and water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Add the coconut milk and blend again. Serve topped with chopped fresh dill.

French Spring Vegetable Soup

French Spring Vegetable Soup
French Spring Vegetable Soup

1.5 Tbsp olive oil
1 leek
1 carrot, sliced in triangles
1 half head of cauliflower chopped in small pieces
1 celeriac, chopped
½ cup green beans, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup fresh or frozen spinach
3 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 diced peeled fresh tomato or 1 can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp of Penzey’s French Bonne Herbs (or mixture of fresh parsley, chervil, thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute leeks and then the fresh vegetables (except tomatoes) in olive oil for a few minutes. Add water, bouillon cubes, tomatoes, herbs, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour, adding water if necessary. When ready to serve top with additional fresh herbs.

Saint Joseph Chickpea Soup

Saint Joseph Chickpea Soup
Saint Joseph Chickpea Soup

1 can chickpeas
5 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
½ red pepper, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 vegetarian bouillon cubes
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then simmer 1 hr. Remove bay leaf and serve. Typically is served on Mar 19 on his feast day. May be topped with croutons or bread crumbs toasted in olive oil. [The fact that everything is diced makes this soup visually appealing.]

Cream of Asparagus

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Cream of Asparagus Soup

1 qt water
¼ lb asparagus
1 potato, peeled and diced
½ onion, sliced
1 medium carrot
½ cup heavy cream or coconut milk
2 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the vegetables in the boiling salted water until tender. Blend the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, add the heavy cream or coconut milk, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and cover for 10 minutes.

Cuban Black Bean

Cuban Black Bean
Cuban Black Bean Soup

½ lb dried black beans
6 cups water
¼ olive oil
1 ½ onions, diced
½ bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tsp sugar
2 tsp vinegar
Pinch of cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans overnight. Rinse the beans and discard the water. Place the beans and the water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook for 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
Saute the onions, pepper, and garlic cloves in the olive oil in a separate pot for 2-3 min. Puree ½ cup of the cooked beans in a blender. Add the puree to the sautéed vegetables and mix. Add all back to the bean pot. Add thyme, oregano, bay leaf, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir well and simmer 50 min more. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Sorrel Soup/Pottage Germiny

Sorrel Soup/Pottage Germiny
Sorrel Soup/Potage Germiny

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock or bouillon cubes
2 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil
2.5 cups of shredded sorrel
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chervil
2 egg yolks
1 cup cream or coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the stock in a large soup pot and cook over medium low heat. Place the oil in a skillet and cook sorrel over medium heat until it breaks down into fine slurry. Add chopped chervil and cook 1-2 min more. If using yolks mix them with cream in a separate bowl. Add a small amount of hot stock to temper the egg yolks and then whisk the combined mixture back into the stock in the pot. (I used three egg whites in more of an egg drop version.) Add the sorrel/chervil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold depending on the season.

Pottage Clamart (Turnip-Leek)

Potage Clamart (Turnip Leek Potage)
Potage Clamart (Turnip Leek Potage)

6 Tbsp oil or butter
1 cup fresh peas
1 carrot
1 turnip
2 leeks
1 quart water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
Salt to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 egg yolk
2 tsp heavy cream or coconut milk

Cut carrot, turnip, and leek into thin slices. Pour the oil in the soup pot and add the peas, carrot, turnip, and leeks. Cook slowly over very low heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add 1 quart of water, bouillon, and spices. Cook the soup slowly for 30 minutes covered. Turn off the heat and let stand 15 minutes. Blend the soup in a blender. Add the egg yolk and cream to the blender, if desired to add creaminess to the soup. Garnish with fresh chervil or hard boiled eggs if desired.

Wild Rice Soup

Wild Rice Soup
Wild Rice Soup

4 cups vegetable or mushroom broth
½ cup water
1 cup dry sherry
3 shallots
½ cup mushrooms
1 cup wild rice
Salt and pepper
½ cup light cream
½ cup chopped chervil or parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Pinch of dry mustard

In a soup pot, pour the broth, sherry, and water and bring to a light boil. Add the shallots, mushrooms, wild rice, salt, and white pepper. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot and cook slowly for 35-40 minutes. Check to see that the rice is well cooked; if not, cook for another 5 minutes or so. Check the seasonings also. Add more broth if necessary. Add the cream, thyme, and pinch of dry mustard. Stir the soup thoroughly. Cover the pot and simmer the soup for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate it for 2 hours and serve cold.

Saint Bertille Soup

Saint Bertille Soup components are a collection of leafy herbs

Saint Bertille Soup
Saint Bertille Herb Soup

1 small head leaf lettuce
1 bunch sorrel
1 cup chopped parsley
10 scallions or 2 leeks
1 bunch watercress
1 ½ quarts water or vegetable stock
1 cup white wine
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 egg yolk
½ cup chervil
Salt and pepper to taste

Shred the lettuce and the sorrel. Chop the parsley, scallions, and watercress into small pieces. Melt the butter in the soup pot, add the chopped greens, and cook slowly for a few minutes over low heat. Stir continually. Add the water (or stock) and the wine. Cover the pot and cook for about 40 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the cream, beaten egg, chervil, salt, and pepper. Blend well in a blender. Reheat the soup for a few minutes, but do not allow it to boil. Refrigerate the soup and serve cold. Or can be served hot with French bread.

Escarole White Bean

Escarole White Bean
Escarole and Bean Minestra

4 Tbsp olive oil
½ large yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large turnip, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup precooked white beans or a 16-oz can
3 ½ cups water
½ cup white wine
1 medium sized head of escarole
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese

In a large soup pot, saute the onion in the oil for a minute or two. Add the minced garlic and mix it well with the onion. Stirring often. Add the turnip and tomatoes. Cook the soup over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the precooked beans, water, and wine. Stir the soup and bring it to a boil. Add the escarole and cook the soup over medium heat for about 25 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve hot. You may sprinkle some grated cheese on top.