Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Summertime is Soup Weather: Climate Change Considerations

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Zuppa al Polpette, Lee's Green Soup

Tipos who say it's too hot to eat soup in summer have not yet learned that a hot soup on a hot day not only hits the spot, hunger-wise, feed a body hot soup on a hot day and the body goes into a cool-down adjustment. I've believed this my entire conscious life, gente, and now, the Google will back me up!

But ni modo on all that. Delicious soup with all those nutrients is exactly what a body needs on a hot summer day. More so on a cold Spring day like we've had lately here in sunny Southern California. So it's always soup weather. And, if you're under the weather, remember folk remedies dictate hot soup for what ails you. 

My grandmother's and mother's people believe caldo de pollo cures everything and what it doesn't fix, it prevents, especially when diners add lots of hot chile.

Memories of Caldo de Pollo

When the Gluten-free Chicano makes the raza panacea--caldo de pollo--he follows his people's simple procedure: boil a chicken, add rice and a few vegetables, serve with lemon and crushed chile piquín. When the occasion calls for fancier fare, The Gluten-free Chicano's thoughts run to Lee's Green Soup, or as his fading memory recalls Lee's name for it, Zuppa al polpette.

Lee Stroud moved next door to my junior high years' Casa Sedano when her husband, the Colonel, transferred to Norton AFB. Lee and mom hit it off. They exchanged recipes, Mexican food for a world-traveler's eclectic recipes. One day I disclosed that I'd recently eaten "pizza pie" for the first time at the drive-in theatre. That was when Lee told us she was Italian from Philadelphia, and what I'd eaten wasn't pizza. Lee made us pizza, from scratch and gave me and Mom a cooking lesson.

Lee's secret rationale: Real pizza takes a lot of work making yeast-rising bread. Not only work, she emphasized, but cheese and meats are expensive. Lee taught us this absolutely delicious caldo that will engage diners into seconds. Guest fill up with soup and when the pizza comes to table, folks eat a single square (because that's all you made) and they're totally satisfied.

It's a winning strategy when soup comes to the table beautifully garnished with a sprinkle of parmesan, aromatic and dimpled with meatballs.

Lee's Green Soup is wonderfully easy to make. Here's the fundamental process.

Make a rich broth.

Earlier in the week, The Gluten-free Chicano roasted a chicken for dinner. He boiled down the carcass with a bouquet of carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and a bay leaf. Removing the particulates left a rich broth of concentrated flavor. With that, start the broth to boil lightly.

Add water sufficient to your need.

Chop vegetables

Add to the boiling broth. The veggies--celery, onion, bell pepper, carrot, garlic--cook crisply fork tender.

Make meatballs

I use a Cusineart to process the carnes. Chop a few dientes of ajo, a medium onion, some parsley. Mix half and half ground beef with pork. Add an egg, a few pinches of grated dried parmesan cheese, a handful of gluten-free bread crumbs (or a couple Tbs of rice), coarsely ground black pepper, salt.

Wash hands well, leave them wet to make forming the meatballs easier. Hand-form meatballs. I make 2" albondigas that diners cut with their spoon. Lee's cost-sensible strategy featured 1" meatballs that fit a spoon. Plan on two or three meatballs per bowl.

Plop the meat into the water and increase the flame.

Add spinach

Break apart a package of chopped spinach as you stir it into the water. Boil. When all the meatballs float to the surface, they're probably done. The soup can simmer a long time if it's the fourth quarter and Plunkett is driving to a winning touchdown.

When the meatballs, and you, are ready to serve, stir in gluten-free rice noodles and call gente to table. The noodles won't require more than five minutes or so, to become al dente.

Prepare rice noodles

Lee Stroud served narrow egg noodles. The Gluten-free Chicano uses rice noodles from the Asian/Thai section at well-stocked supermarkets. "Pad Thai" noodles come in a box and need not be cut or further processed.

Rice noodles come in tightly-wrapped coils of hard, long strips of noodle. I find the noodles easier to cook and eat if I open one end of the cellophane package and use scissors to cut the bundled noodles along the fold.

Pull the noodles out of the wrapping above the boiling pot and let them float onto the surface. Stir them into the broth. Continue boiling until all the noodles are in the bottom and have grown elastic and translucently al dente.

Garnish with hot chile flakes

If the noodles absorbed too much broth, stir in some water. This chicken soup has a rich parmesan flavor that you can enhance with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese across the surface and a helping of crushed chile. A squeeze of limon helps but is not at all necessary.

Serve the soup all by itself. If you have a gluten-free breadlike substance, butter it up, load it with chunks of chopped garlic, dust with parmesan and paprika, broil until deep brown.


T. Reyna said...

Wow! My mouth watered all through this article! Your crystal-clear directions and colorful photos have just performed a notable public service. Gracias!

Anonymous said...

Why did I decide to read this before going to sleep? Now I won't be able to sleep with all these rich images of delicious caldo floating around my head. I'll also be craving rice noodles and albóndigas.

Anonymous said...

That anonymous person is I, Martina Robles Gallegos.