Brother d’Avila likes cooking with eggs, and not just because it’s spring. His book of salad recipes offers 45 salads that use eggs, nearly four per month, and many of his soup recipes call for beaten eggs or egg yolks. This should come as no surprise, since eggs are cheap, easy, and quick sources of protein, not to mention handy for thickening a broth or adding richness to a thin soup. So if you feel there’s an overabundance of eggs in these posts, it isn’t completely my fault.
When my siblings were young, our mother used canned cream-of-mushroom soup as a thickener for all kinds of sauces, whether for chicken, beef stew, vegetables, and cassseroles. She now regrets all those recipes, for she can’t stand the sight or smell of c-of-m soup. That’s a shame, because when made from scratch, it can be quite tasty, and d’Avila’s recipe, Cream of Mushroom Soup à la Romaine, succeeded. Blending the cooked vegetables before reheating hides one secret ingredient: a carrot, chopped and sautéed with the mushrooms, onion, and garlic before simmering it all in water thickened with a roux. Add cream, seasoning, and then garnish with grated or shaved Romano cheese. I believe when I make this again, I’ll try adding some kale or spinach.
The surprise success, though, was the Sour Cream Soup. I often garnish soup with a dollop of sour cream, so there’s nothing surprising about sour cream as a garnish. But stirred into the soup and simmered for 10 minutes? This was a first for me. Two large potatoes, chopped very small, are cooked in a broth flavored with bay leaf, caraway seeds and salt until just done. Add a roux to thicken the broth, then the sour cream and simmer several more minutes. Garnish with chopped scallions and parsley. Perhaps the next time I make this, I’ll add a bit of heat — chili flakes instead of caraway seeds at the beginning, or mix the scallions and parsley with chili oil. Options!
This month’s salads were simple, with ingredients coming almost ready made. The Northern Italian Bean Salad (pictured above with the mushroom soup) of cannelloni beans and chickpeas as well as chopped celery, carrots, and scallions needed just a simple vinaigrette.
And for something completely new, I give you Eggs Tonnato (left). These are hard-boiled eggs served with a tuna-based sauce: mayo, ketchup, capers, shallot, and canned tuna, run through the blender. Even just one-fourth of the recipe made more than enough sauce for my one hard-boiled egg, so now I’m trying to decide how to use the remainder. (Since I used only 1/4 of the can of tuna, I added what was left of the Northern Italian Bean Salad — a good choice.) (Update: Instead of mayo, I used the rest of the tonnato sauce in a tuna salad, and it worked perfectly.)
This month’s recipes have a decided Italian flavor, something I hadn’t noted until writing this post. I’ll try to go further abroad next month, but it all depends on what Brother Victor-Antoine offers.