Something in the air, maybe a wave of autumn currents, has brought spinach to mind this past week, and though I made a big casserole of creamed spinach just five days ago, the craving is still there. The New Orleans cookbook, Cooking Up a Storm was my choice for finding a spinach recipe for Sunday evening, but I wanted something that didn’t take long hours to prepare. Speed and ease were the criteria I started with. Almost as though the cookbook could read thoughts, one of the first pages I looked at had a spinach soup with ‘easy’ in the name. A quick look at the cooking directions showed nothing like two or three hour simmering, and the ingredients were mostly in the kitchen pantry already.
While it is true that the US is second only to China in spinach production, that fact doesn’t alter the fact that Asians eat more of it than anyone else. It is most popular among women forty and older and least popular among teenage girls. Children generally shy away from spinach, much like they do other green vegetables, and it’s doubtful that Popeye ever did much to make kids want to eat spinach, but the claim of spinach-fed muscles might not be too far off. A hundred grams of spinach contains 9400 units of Vitamin A.
The origins of the spinach plant go back to ancient Persia from where it made its way to China in the seventh century. Its history in Europe is more recent than many other vegetables and it wasn’t until the eleventh century that the Moors introduced it into Spain. For a while, spinach was known as “the Spanish vegetable” in England.
This Easy Spinach Soup from Cooking Up a Storm is a heartier soup than the recipe implies. I had to add almost two cups of water at the end to make it less stew-like. Because it is a thick soup, it doesn’t call for a table full of add-ons, but feeling a little hungry, I added a green salad, half a baked potato and some pita toast, a glass of white wine to add a dash of piquancy. This is indeed an easy soup to prepare but the difficulty I found was in trying to make the finished brew look appetizing on the table. Roughly chopped spinach cooked in chicken broth somehow doesn’t add up to an attractive combination. The tomato does add some color, but the red is dull and overall not enough. Even in a pretty table setting a first look at this easy spinach soup hardly stirs the desired, “Mmm, that looks good!” So, with that in mind, close your eyes and bon appétit.
Easy Spinach Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
14 ounces chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes with juice, 14 ounces
¼ cup dried pasta (orzo is the suggested choice)
1 ten ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
In a 3 quart soup pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add the broth and the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cheese and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.