If you want to know the real inspiration for GalaKitchen I’ll let you in on a little secret… It all started with this soup in the middle of a winter snowstorm and an old Cabbagetown Cafe cookbook in a college town suburb of Michigan. As a young sophomore in 1993, Vishal, trying to avoid the blizzard outside, first tried his hand at “making a dish” and after the storming success of his first bowl of goodness he and his friends were hooked.. and it was with this, simple, easy to make recipe, that Vishal’s, and eventually my, intensity and passion for good home cooking came to be born.
Cabbagetown Cafe, located in Ithica, New York, was named appropriately for the early 70s. Julie Jordan, the then cook, was a young militant vegetarian and natural foods advocate who wanted to change the eating habits of the world (sound familiar?). Julie eventually went on to buy and run the restaurant herself, and from the day she reopened it there were lines around the block for every meal she served. She published this cookbook in 1986 and given it was all about healthy vegetarian cooking it ended up in the hands of my lovely to be husband at the time.
This soup has come to be a staple dish in our household. I’ve simplified and changed the original recipe a bit over the years but the flavor and texture have stayed true to its original inception. Its a creamy bowl of steamy sipping even through there is no cream in sight. I use this base for many of my simple vegetable soup recipes, replacing the broccoli with cauliflower, cabbage, leeks and the like. Blending in the potato is the genius move that makes the soup so smooth. Once you have the basics down you will be amazed how easy it is to impress your last minute house guests. It takes no more then 30 minutes from emptying your grocery bags to sitting down and sipping this bowl of hot goodness.
Yield: Serves 6
1 large Yukon Gold potato
3 tbsp butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
3 heads broccoli, florets only
3 cups fresh basil, chopped and packed
2 to 3 cups low-fat milk
salt and pepper
Roast the potato: Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Wrap the potato in aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until knife inserts easily. Remove, unwrap the foil and when cooled peel the potato and set aside.
Sautee the veggies: On medium heat, add the butter. Next, add the garlic and the onion and sauté for several minutes until the mixture is soft and translucent.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and the broccoli and cover. Let simmer for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the broccoli is soft enough to break with a spoon, stir in the chopped basil. Cook for about another 1 – 2 minutes (only until the basil wilts down) and remove form heat.
Blend all the veggies with 2 cups of the milk and the potato. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk and continue to blend. Blend until creamy with a medium thickness. Return to the pot and counitue to warm on medium heat. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve warm.
Note: The salt in this recipe varies every time I make it. It depends on the sweetness and the quantity of the broccoli you have.