Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup

I was pulling out a bag o'lettuce for salad with dinner, when I noticed a container of baby spinach languishing in the back of the veggie bin.  Despite a long-past "best by" date, the spinach was in remarkably good shape.  But, thinking that my luck with greens might run out in a few days, it needed to be used up faster than I could possibly do by sneaking adding it into the salad.

Quick, Batman!  To the "recipes that should be tried some day" folder!  And what should I find there, but a soup (the recipe, really, soup in a folder would be really messy) that needed virtually the exact amount of baby spinach leaves that happen to be languishing in the back of the veggie bin.  Woo-hoo!

This isn't your normal spinach soup -- it uses cornmeal that you bought to make cornbread a while back and haven't touched since.  Cornmeal thickens up the soup like nobody's business.  If you have any leftover soup, chill it overnight and it becomes solid enough to plop onto a plate and cut with a knife.  Yeah, yeah, wise guys, I reinvented polenta.

I made this soup parve, but I bet if you made it with butter, a sprinkle or two of parmesan cheese per serving would be a party in your mouth.

Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup
Based on  Bon Appetit
4 servings

4 cups vegetable broth or parve "chicken" broth (low-sodium preferred)
1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
2 Tbl. unbleached flour
2 Tbl. margarine
2 tsp. chopped garlic (bottled okay)
6 ozs. baby spinach leaves
1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
up to 1 tsp. kosher salt, if needed

In 2 quart saucepan, bring  broth to a simmer over medium-high heat.

While waiting for the broth to heat up, combine cornmeal and flour in large (at least 4 quart) pot.

Over medium-high heat, whisk in 1 cup of the hot broth until smooth, then slowly pour in remaining 3 cups, whisking constantly.

Whisk in margarine and garlic.

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and continue to simmer, uncovered, stirring (or whisking) occasionally until cornmeal is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in spinach by handfuls; simmer 2 more minutes or until spinach has wilted. Add black pepper.   Taste and add up to 1 teaspoon salt, if needed.

Ladle soup into 6 bowls.  Serve hot.


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