At last, rain has returned to Sonoma County! I have to admit, it was kind of nice enjoying the freedom to hike and play as I pleased during what must have been the longest recorded stretch of beautiful, sunny winter days. It seemed as though we would never see rain again. However, it would seem as though rain will be all we are going to see for the remainder of this week.
And we can’t complain because we need it. Dismal rainfall totals have lead the Sonoma County Water Agency to downgrade our water supply from “normal” to “dry.” We are well under our yearly rainfall average and all our warm weather has lead to an early bud break here in our vineyards. Drought years are never good for anyone; not for farmers, not for fish, and not for the community.
Rain is always good for my creativity. I love spending a rainy day writing till my fingers cramp and my eyes feel like they are bulging out of my head. I’m happy to report that the freelancing thing examiner.com is going pretty well – check out my work thus far: http://www.examiner.com/food-and-wine-in-san-francisco/aaron-romano
The one thing that I’ve really been missing this winter is soup. When it’s perfectly sunny out nearly every day, the furthest thing from my mind is soup. For whatever reason, Amber seems to always want to make soup – perhaps because her house is always cold. But I always say, “nooooo,” when we’re shopping for dinner. I need cold and dreary days in order to make soup; I need endless rainy days and hours lying in bed listening to the raindrops outside my window. So I couldn’t be happier that this weather has arrived. Soup days have returned! I will probably eat my weight in soup over the next 4-5 days, mopping up the last drops at the bottom of the bowl with a stale chunk of bread.
I adapted this recipe from one I found on CHOW.com, adding my own twists and additions, but what really makes it is the poached egg on top. The yolk adds an additional layer of richness that kind of makes the soup complete. The first time I had a poached egg in soup was in a Southeast Asian-inspired preparation many years ago. I thought it was kind of weird, but then when I cracked it open and swirled the creamy orange around in my bowl and took my first bite, it was like nirvana. This soup, however, is so good; you’ll find yourself licking the bowl clean.
Garnet yam & kale soup with poached egg (Serves 4) – adapted from CHOW.com
1 garlic head – roasted and peeled
1/4 teaspoon dry chili flake
3 slices of bacon, chopped
2 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 large Garnet yam, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more as needed
1/4 Cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 bunch dinosaur kale, stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 poached eggs
Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut off the top quarter of garlic head to expose the cloves. Place the garlic heads, cut side up, on a large piece of foil, drizzle a bit of olive oil and wrap tightly to form a foil packet. Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake until the garlic cloves are golden brown and very tender, 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, open the packet, and let the garlic sit until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the roasted cloves from their skins and place in a small bowl; set aside.
Cook bacon in large pot until crisp and remove with slotted spoon, leaving bacon fat behind. Add leeks, bay leaves, and rosemary, and cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks have begun to soften and the herbs are fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add yam, roasted garlic, and paprika, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, scraping at the bits at the bottom of the pot. Add the 4 of the 5 cups of stock and reduce the heat to low, cover with, and let simmer until the potatoes are knife tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and remove the pot from the heat.
Using a blender, or immersion blender purée the soup until smooth. Return the soup to a simmer over low heat. Add the kale and additionally cup of stock and stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender but still brightly colored, about 10 to 12 minutes. Return bacon bits to soup and add salt and pepper to taste.
While soup is finishing, poach eggs in separate pot. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with poached egg.