Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cheater's Homemade Broth

I received The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rosetto Kasper and Sally Swift for Christmas this year from my grandma.  Inside the cookbook is an array of fonts and photos, which at first I found confusing.  Then after second glance and some real reading, I realized that this book is the literary version of Kasper's Splendid Table radio program.  Throughout the book you can hear Lynne's voice offering the reader tips and secrets to making delicious meals.  The first recipe I tried was Soup of Fresh Greens and Alphabets which included making a recipe of Cheater's Homemade Broth.  What exactly is cheater's broth?  Basically it is taking store-bought broth and adding "every flavor-boosting trick" Lynne and Sally know.  At first I was skeptical with the amount of work I was going to have put in to make the broth before I even made the soup.  But once I tried a spoonful of the finished broth, I was sold.  It is truly the most flavorful broth I have ever made - so good that I could have just eaten it alone without anything added to it.  Lynne and Sally recommend making this broth and storing it for whenever you feel like making soup.  The broth keeps for 4 days refrigerated and 6  months frozen.

Here are the ingredients for The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper's Cheater's Homemade Broth (makes 4 cups, doubles and triples easily):
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-2 large garlic cloves, crushed (leave unpeeled if organic)
-2 whole garlic cloves
-1 canned tomato
-1 bay leaf, broken
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
-Three 14-ounce cans chicken or vegetable broth (I used Better Than Bouillon Vegetable)
-1 medium to large onion, coarse chopped (if organic, trim away roots but leave skin)
-1/2 large celery stalk with leaves, coarse chopped
-1/2 medium carrot, coarse chopped (leave unpeeled if organic)

To begin, prep all your vegetables.  Then in 4-quart pot, combine all the ingredients.  Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
Strain the broth into a bowl or storage container.  Either use it right ways, refrigerate it, or freeze it.

Here are the ingredients for The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper's Soup of Fresh Greens and Alphabets (serves 6 to 8 as a first course; 4 to 6 as a light main dish):
-8 cups (double recipe) Cheater's Homemade Broth or canned chicken broth
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-1 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands (do not use canned crushed tomatoes)
-2 large cloves garlic, minced
-1 medium to large onion, minced
-One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I used cannellini beans instead)
-2 large handfuls escarole or curly endive leaves, fine chopped (2 1/2 to 3 cups)
-1/3 tight-packed cup fresh basil leaves, fine chopped
-1/2 cup tiny pasta (alphabet, orzo, or stars)
-Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
-1 cup or more fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

To begin, in a 6-quart pot combine the broth, wine and tomatoes.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile chop the onion, garlic, basil, and greens.
Add the garlic, onion, chickpeas, greens, and basil.  Simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
Stir in the pasta and simmer, partially covered, for 6 minutes or until the pasta is tender.  Taste the soup for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Serve hot, passing the cheese the table.

Another recipe from the book to go along with the broth is Farmer's Tortellini in Wine Broth.  It is very simple.  Bring to a simmer 1 recipe Cheater's Homemade Broth and add 2 cups of frozen tortellini and boil, covered, until the tortellini are tender.  Ladle the soup into bowls.  At the table pour 2 to 4 tablespoons red wine into each serving and sprinkle them with generous spoonfuls of fresh-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

You can purchase Lynne and Sally's book by clicking here or visit The Splendid Table website and listen to Lynne's weekly radio show.

Last year I made some amazing soft pretzels.  Click here for the recipe.

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