Saturday, February 12, 2011
Book Group Soup
I don’t always read the book. This time I didn’t even buy it. My book group picked The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a 425-page tome that by many accounts is an enlightening philosophical treatise on Tibetan Buddhism. I looked it up on amazon.com, and after reading the five pages that were available with the “Look Inside!” feature, I felt as if I’d been transported back to the 1960s.
I know I sound shallow and closed-minded, but I believe that everyone doesn’t have to read every book we choose, and this was one I chose not to read. Instead, I caught up on my New Yorker backlog, and put in some quality time with Q is for Quarry, a Sue Grafton mystery I somehow missed in the run to her latest, U is for Undertow. They’re in a category I refer to as “brain candy.”
That said, I love my book group. We had such a lively discussion, it didn’t even matter whether anyone read the book or not, and, in fact, a couple of others were in my camp. We read a mix of fiction, history, narrative nonfiction, and classics, and not everyone loves – or reads – every pick. But as a fan of nonfiction, I appreciate the group for getting me to read quite a few fiction titles (including Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, The Help, and The Sun Also Rises) I might otherwise have skipped.
The meeting was this week, during the second blast in Austin’s Winter of Our Discontent. Cold, cold, and more cold. Which is NOT what we expected when we moved here. So, naturally, I made soup. Again. This one has the great advantage of taking almost no time at all, and has a mysterious flavor that comes from the melange of vegetables and fruits, accented with a dash of curry. I served it occasionally at my New Jersey soup parties, and it was always a hit. Now when I serve it for dinner, I just add a green salad.
(from Gourmet magazine, December 2001)
1 large boiling potato (½ lb), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery heart (stalks with leaves), coarsely chopped (½ c)
1 large apple (preferably Granny Smith), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 firm-ripe banana, coarsely chopped
1 pt chicken broth
1 c heavy cream [Kitchen Goddess note #1: Light cream works equally well, if you’re counting calories, and who among us is not?]
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1 rounded tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Simmer vegetables and fruits in broth in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until very tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream, butter, curry powder, and salt and heat just until hot (do not boil).
Purée soup in a blender until smooth (be careful when blending hot liquids). Thin the soup with water if desired and serve sprinkled with chives. Makes 4 to 6 main course servings.
Kitchen Goddess note #2: You can make this soup ahead and reheat to serve (do not boil). It has a tendency to thicken in the refrigerator – just add water to reach a consistency you like. And it’s equally delightful hot or cold.