2 days ago
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Just close your eyes and eat it
I may have mentioned before the melting pot that is this one family-- we are Chinese-Greek-Turkish-Swedish-Irish-Americans with possibly a little Russian in there somewhere. Throw in my sister-in-law and you add Polish and Hungarian. So we've always been eclectic eaters; my children were the wonder of my friends when they were little, because they'd try anything.
When my father-in-law was alive we used to go to what I called the Tong Dinners every year. These were annual banquets sponsored by the Chin Family Association. Family Associations were formed by overseas Chinese to cope with the new country, to meet the other immigrants in the area and for business, educational and social purposes.
When my son was about 4, the Association dinner that year was a textbook of Weird Chinese Food, all of which the two shiksa daughters-in-law really had to eat. You just didn't not eat what was put in front of you at these things. And at that particular dinner one of the things they served us was oil sludge.
This actually turned out to be pigs feet in greens, so a little off the Middle American track, but not actually inedible. However, for some reason the overhead lights all had amber bulbs in them, which made the cooked greens look like black, viscous sludge. This dinner is still a family legend. And last night I made a version.
My oil sludge soup was actually inspired by this post over at My Folia, and yes, it looks absolutely horrible, but it tastes delicious, and you don't get much healthier than this.
Schi (Russian Greens Soup)
Greens, about 2 quarts. I used Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, Lovage, and Salad Burnet
2 quarts broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
Onions, daikons, and/or leeks, about 1 cup diced
Trim the stems/spines from the leafy greens; strip the herb greens from the stems. Chop roughly, into strips or bite size.
Crumble or dice and sauté the sausage (I peel the casing off, but that's a personal preference), once it starts to brown, add the onions/daikons/leeks and sauté until they are translucent. Add the greens in handfuls and continue sautéing to reduce the greens. Add olive oil as needed (I used a slightly spicy olive oil that had jalapenos in it).
Add the broth and simmer for an hour. Do not skimp on the simmering because you need to make sure the greens are broken down.
You'll want to play around with spices/herbs in this. I used a home-made fennel-based broth which had quite a strong flavor already, and all my broths are made with salt and peppercorns. I didn't want to overwhelm the cucumber-y flavor of the lovage and the burnet, so I didn't add any other herbs or spices, not even salt.
I'm including a picture of the fresh greens and not the finished soup, because it looks perfectly awful, but it tastes absolutely delicious. If you can get a child to eat this soup, you win parenthood forever.