Soup for A Rainy Winter Night
Mondays have a tendency to chew me up and spit me out, so that when I arrive home, tired and worse for wear, I want life to feel easy. Soup, with its bare requirement of casual stirring, and its gentle steam bringing the flush back to your cheeks when you finally lean over a bowl, spoon poised, fits the bill quite nicely.
This is not only my favorite soup but my favorite kind of recipe. I call it Alchemy Cooking. The list of ingredients is so humble that I am always somewhat astonished at the flavors that burst forth in the end. Better still, the satisfaction of making something is only magnified when its beginnings are so unassuming and its final form so great.
A couple Mondays back I decided to take the the subway to the far reaches of my neighborhood. I thought some French-style exercise would do me good, and few things put me more at peace than a chance to enjoy the charms of Brooklyn. It was the perfect night for it, as this was the last sigh of mild night air before a fast descent into winter. That is, all seemed perfect as I was peeping into undraped windows when all of a sudden the sky opened up and began to rain fat drops on me and my tote filled with the ingredients for this soup.
Had this been a typical Monday, the next part of this story would involve me cursing under my breath and having thoughts that sound more than a little like violins playing. I can’t say what it was exactly that prompted me instead to put up the hood of my jacket and laugh a little at my luck and wet toes. Perhaps it was knowing I had a bottle of wine at home to warm up with, or that I knew I would soon be eating this soup, or maybe it was the burst of endorphins from scurrying along the slick residential streets. Whatever the reason, what would have been an annoying inconvenience became a serendipitous delight, and I wish I knew how to make that happen more often.
White Beans and Greens Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch dark, leafy greens, such as collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 15.5 ounce can white beans
6 cups chicken stock
salt, plenty of pepper, and grated parmesan
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and sauté onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Stir in greens and cook, uncovered, until wilted. Add chicken stock and white beans, and raise the heat to bring soup to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and serve topped with grated parmesan.