I am always amazed that many cultures will eat almost anything and stay healthy. French eat snails, frogs, sweetbreads, kidneys and other weird stuff that I enjoy and wash it down with gallons of wine. The also rank 10th in longevity compared to 38th for Americans. Italians are just as bad eating squid, octopus, brains, eel, milk fed veal, goats and other good stuff and they also live longer than Americans with a ranking of 12th.
Now what brought this comparison to mind was a broccoli soup recipe that I made from kitchen scraps. The basis for this recipe is from Carla Capalbo’s “Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking”. Apparently the head of Broccoli that I purchased was not the freshest in the world and two days later the flowers were starting to yellow. I remembered the beautiful presentation in her book for broccoli soup and decided to convert it to my needs as I pretty much have dropped bread from my diet even though Italians who eat white breads are likely to outlive me.
As usual, when a meal is 90 percent vegetarian and looks strong enough to have flavor without meat, I convert it and purge my system of meat for the day. Since broccoli is a strong flavor, and and the soup is served with Parmesan Cheese, I figured it would be bold enough without the chicken broth so used vegetable broth.
For the Broccoli, the recipe actually called for the pealing and dicing of the stems, so I figured a few slightly yellow and dry flowers wouldn’t change the flavor and they didn’t. As I said, as far as my normal eating of broccoli goes , I eat raw or steamed green flowers only but this soup was made from stuff I would normally throw out like the stems and yellow flowers and it tasted great. You just have to love the recipes that poor people come up with to stretch a food dollar.
Vegetarian Broccoli Soup
2 small heads of broccoli
1 can 14.5 oz vegetable broth
the juice of 1 small local lime
1 large clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
I cut all off all of the flowers and saved the best looking 10 to 12 to add back to the soup. All small flowers, yellow flowers and the pealed and diced stems were added to the pot along with the garlic and the juice of the lime. I was amazed that pealing the stem was fairly easy as the bark was pulled up towards the head and only the fattest portion of the stem was actually pealed.
After everything was in the pot except the salt and pepper which was added as served, the soup was cooked for about 4 to 6 hours and then pureed in a blender. The soup was then added back to the pot along with the saved flowers and cooked until done – 1 to 2 hours.
When served with grated Parmesan, this is a flavorful, hearty, filling soup.
While I am not really opposed to using the bottled lime juice, I cut into my drinking time one Saturday a few years ago and potted a local lime tree against the wall outside my kitchen and trained it in an espalier manner. As soon as one crop is done, I prune the tree back to the flat profile and another crop occurs within a month or two. Not only is my lime tree an evergreen, it is almost a continuous producer.
Italians have used lime trees in both topiary (sculpted) and espalier (trained) since the time of Christ.