Friday, January 29, 2010

Hearty Winter-Vegetable Soup with Popovers

Last week I made a delicious soup perfect for this cold weather, hence the name Hearty Winter-Vegetable Soup from Martha Stewart's January 2010 issue. The soup takes a lot of prep work, but once you get though all the chopping, you are on your way. It makes great leftovers, in fact I liked it better the second day because the flavors had melded together and the escarole had softened even more.

Here are the ingredients for Martha Stewart's Hearty Winter-Vegetable Soup (serves 10-12):
-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-4 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces, and washed well
-3 celery stalks, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
-3 medium carrots, cut into cubes
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-2 pinches of red-pepper flakes
-Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
-5 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I used vegetable stock)
-1 1/2 cups water
-1 small (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
-2 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 ounces), cut into cubes
-1 head escarole, cut into 1-inch-thick ribbons
-1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
-2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh dill

To begin, chop leeks, celery, carrots and peel garlic.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, red-pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add stock and water, and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, peel and cut squash and cut potatoes. Add squash and potatoes to the soup and return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir in escarole and chickpeas, and return to a boil.
Stir in lemon juice and herbs.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy with a popover.
Ingredients for Popovers from Martha Stewart's January 2010 issue (makes 1 dozen*):
-2 1/2 cups whole milk
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon coarse salt
-6 large eggs
-Unsalted butter, softened for pans

*Note: Using a standard muffin tin, the recipe made 2 dozen popovers.

Before I begin with the directions let me compare a popover tin to a muffin tin. In my experience, the muffin tin only affected how the popovers turned out visually, but taste-wise the muffin tin popovers were still very delicious.

Cooks Illustrated explains the importance of the popover tin's design, "Only tangentially related to muffin tins, popover pans are composed of heavyweight steel cups affixed to one another with thick steel wire; they typically have six cups. The open design maximizes heat transfer, which is crucial to high-rising popovers and babas au rhum."

Because my muffin tin could not achieve the heat level needed, all my popovers collapsed except for one miraculously. I made two attempts, I used Martha's oven temperature for the first round, and then I increased the temperature to 450 degrees for the first 15 minutes, and reduced it to 425 for the second half of baking. The second attempt had better results, but still far from perfect.

This is a Chicago Metallic Gourmetware Nonstick 6-Cup Popover Pan which can be purchased here.
To begin, heat oven to 425 degrees F. Meanwhile whisk together milk, flour, and salt.

Add eggs and whisk together until combined. Mixture might be lumpy.
Place popover or muffin tin in oven to heat up for 5 minutes. Quickly remove the tin and generously coat each cup with softened butter. Fill each cup a little more than halfway with batter. Place back in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Do NOT open the oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for about 25 minutes.
First attempt.
Second Attempt at higher temperature.
Let stand for 5 minutes and then turn popovers out and serve warm. If not using all the popovers, poke a small hole to release steam. Reheat when ready to eat.
My one perfect popover.
For original Popover recipe, click here.

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