Spinach Appetizer Soup, Thomas Keller Style

Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –

* https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/watercress-appetizer-soup/

I’ve sort of been busy with work and hosting my in-laws these last two weeks.  I wanted to impress my in-laws with one final new offering before they headed home on a Sat night flight.  My in-laws had been impressed by my chilean seabass with pan roasted mushrooms, steamed chiffonade of nappa and Michiba’s kanpon vinaigrette.  One of the comments I got was “I would never have thought to cook the nappa using steaming – it’s almost like the Nobu roasted nappa – there’s almost a cooked sweetness to it.  So this time, I thought I would cook my mother-in-law’s favorite vegetable: spinach.  I immediately thought of the watercress soup and wanted to do an appetizer soup with the spinach.

Chef Keller suggests big pot blanching of green vegetables; so I thought I’d do the same with the spinach.  But how much

I needed this much spinach!

I needed this much spinach!

spinach?  As a guide,  I chose to use the Sauteed Spinach With Garlic Confit recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (p. 236) as the base.  The online recipe can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/bouchons-saut-ed-spinach-with-garlic-confit-375411

8 garlic cloves - microbatch confit

8 garlic cloves – microbatch confit

Now, of course I don’t have a diffuser, so I ended up using one of my saucepans with a good layered bottom to it and put in the

garlic submerged in 1/4 c grapeseed oil

garlic submerged in 1/4 c grapeseed oil

ramekin of 8 trimmed garlic cloves and 1/4 c of grapeseed oil (8 – 9 clones is about 1/4 portion of the recipe – it weighed in at about 1 1/8 oz) and cooked it on low heat for about 40 minutes stirring it with a chopstick every 5 or so minutes.   Once it was

Using a saucepan as a diffuser to make the confit

Using a saucepan as a diffuser to make the confit

easily pierced with my vegetable knife, I took it off the heat to cool to room temperature in the oil.

To begin, I made a pot of konbu dashi and while that was being made, I sauteed 1/4 c of finely minced shallots and then set it

sauteed shallot for the soup

sauteed shallot for the soup

aside.  Into salted boiling water, I dropped in the baby spinach and then pulled it out after a minute or two and shocked in icy cold water.  Since I was using 1 lb of spinach, I would follow the watercress appetizer soup recipe and use about 1 cup of the konbu dashi and 1/2 teaspoon of the 4:1 salt/pepper mix (as it would turn out, I corrected the seasoning to 3/4 t).

starting to load the food processor

starting to load the food processor

I loaded my food processor with the 8 garlic confit cloves the sauteed shallots.  On top of that, I added the drained shocked spinach and pulsed the processor a few times and then gave it 1 short burst on high power.  I moved the puree mixture to a final

The finished soup!

The finished soup!

pot and added the hot konbu dashi a bit at time and then corrected the seasoning (which like I said, ended up being 3/4t).  I portioned out the soup into 4 small soup bowls to start the evening meal.  Needless to say, my mother-in-law was floored on how good it was and startled at its simplicity.  Enough said!



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