Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dandelion Soup

I can imagine the circumstances under which this recipe was born.  A farmsteader in late April or early May.  The snow has melted, but nothing is growing yet.  The air is still cold.  The potatoes from last year have all been eaten or have gone bad.  After a long winter, you are not just starving for something fresh to eat, you're literally starving.  And then, these tiny little plants with soft leaves and bright yellow flowers start popping up in your garden.  You didn't plant them.  They're crowding out what you did plant.  They've got to go!  But got to go where?  Into the compost pile where they can spread into more of your gardens?  Into the fire?  No, into your belly!

I brought my leftovers to work for lunch, and while some of my co-workers were adventurous and tried, the majority turned up their noses.  Eat a weed?  Is it safe?  Sorry, Kate, that's too weird for me.  Or, my favorite.  Just a laugh.  Oh, wait, you're serious?  Eww...

Grocery stores have certainly changed people.  In many ways, this is a good thing.  We expand our palates by being exposed to new things.  Children can learn about other cultures through their food, and the foreign becomes less strange and scary.  Diets can be better, in theory, because fresh fruit and vegetables can be eaten even in the middle of winter.

But diets aren't better.  Obesity, especially obesity among children is on the rise.  Why?  With the abundance of food comes the abundance of fast food, prepared food, and convenience food.  Not only can we not be bothered to raise and butcher our own cow, or bake our own buns, we can't even be bothered to form our own hamburger patties.  We have Burger King make it "our way," because we can't be bothered to make it ourselves.  And we lose these recipes; OUR recipes.  Sushi is normal, but the recipes of the individuals who built our country are too weird to try?  The ingredients of my gum include glycerol, soy lecithin, aspertame-asesulfame, hydroxylated soy lechithin, BHT, and Phenylalanine - and I'm sure you'd gladly steal a stick - but dandelions, which we can all recognize by sight, are just to strange of ingredients for you to take the risk...

This recipe calls for 1 cup dandelion leaves.
This is way more than that!  1 cup is about
one big plant.
So, I DARE you.  Try this.  It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and I bet you have most or all of the ingredients in your house... or yard.  

Oh, and I've added a new notation.  (L) means local, but (L*) means I picked it in my own back yard.

Dandelion Soup
Taken from the Laura Ingles Wilder Cookbook

Serves 2 as a main course

  • 1/4 cup butter (L)
  • 1 cup finely chopped dandelion leaves (do NOT pick them out of your yard if you use pesticides.  You can find them at specialty food stores) (L*)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (L)
  • 1 tbsp minced chives (L*)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups milk
Dandelion leaves sauteing
in butter
Melt butter.  Add greens, herbs, and seasonings.  Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Leaves will shrink and soften.  Sprinkle in flour, stirring to coat greens evenly  Cook about 5 additional minutes.

Dandelion leaves cooking
with flour
Stir in milk, cooking over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Simmer until milk is hot and greens are tender, about 5 more minutes.

This is all the recipe called for.  I added a few Herbed Egg Dumplings:
  • 2 large eggs (L)
  • 1 tbsp chives, minced (L*)
  • 1 tbsp oregano, minced  (L*)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flour (L)
Add about 1 1/2 to 2 inches water to a small pot, salt, and bring to a boil.

Beat eggs in a small bowl.  Beat in chives, oregano, and salt.  Add flour slowly, until mixture is stiff and no longer sticky.  Drop by small spoonfuls into the boiling water and cook until dumplings are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes depending on size.  Drain water.

Place dumplings in the bottom of large soup bowls and pour dandelion soup on top.  Eat while hot.

*This was even better warmed up and eaten the second day.  I kept the dumplings separate so they didn't get soggy.

No comments:

Post a Comment