Monday, May 10, 2010

Supper for a Tired Traveller

I returned from two weeks in England yesterday, and as the plane landed in the morning and I hadn't managed to get any sleep on board, I spent the rest of the day groggily trying to stay awake while getting housekeeping chores accomplished. There were trips to the supermarket, the bakery, the dry cleaner. There was a load of laundry for my tiny under-the-stove washing machine. There were lots of books, brochures, and maps to organize and put away. There wasn't a lot of time or energy left over for adventurous cooking, and the upside-down time had confused my sense of dinnertime, anyway. I wanted something simple, light, and filled with vitamins to counter the terrible cold I got a few days ago. Even though Tokyo is nice and springtimey, unlike chilly England, soup was what I wanted.

I ate a lot of soup in England, mostly carrot as that's what's in season. I decided to try to recreate a carrot-vegetable soup, though without a handheld blender I wasn't sure how it would turn out (I really prefer soups velvety rather than watery). Still, encouraged by the music of my newly-downloaded soundtrack to "Wicked" (which I saw for the first time in London last week), I set to work chopping and dicing. First I put just a small amount of water and salt in the pan and added 1 diced carrot, 4 diced garlic stems, and the minced stems of 4 shiitake mushrooms. When they had cooked a while, I added more water, more salt, pepper, and another diced carrot, 3 more sliced garlic stems, and the mushroom heads very thinly sliced. I went away and folded some laundry. Then I added more water, just to keep everything covered, and some broccoli florets and chopped spinach. Those I cooked just a couple of minutes, till they were tender, and I took the pot off the stove.

It was perfect! Even though not creamy, there was a high ratio of vegetables to water, and the earliest-added vegetables had started to fall apart. There was a lot of cold-fighting garlic flavor and a nice contrast of colors. I made enough soup for a number of servings, so we'll see how it holds up - I hope it will taste good cold, as well, so I can eat it at work like gazpacho.

I had picked up a loaf of rye and wholemeal bread at Pointage, one of the small, independent neighborhood bakeries near my apartment, and a small wheel of camembert cheese. I also ate a bowl of the very soft tofu that comes in its own milk, and is very pudding-like in texture, with some soy sauce poured over. This is such a mild and comforting dish, it's perfect as a first course for someone almost too tired even to chew.

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