Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Spinach Egg and Lemon Soup with Carrot and Celery Root Recipe
My parents’ house in Turkey is on the Western side of the Bodrum peninsula, and, when first traveling here as a teenager, and for the entire fifteen hour drive along the coast, I listened to Sezen Aksu’s Sen Ağlama album on my new walkman. I flipped this tape over and over, and imagined a fictional adult life with the Turkish boy crush I left in Istanbul, a sullen teen attempting to remove myself from the sweaty reality of the cramped backseat of my parents’ car. A side, B side, A side, B side, sen ağlama, dayanamam, benimle ol, bu gece, geri dön: overly sentimental Turkish song lyrics about the moon, the sea, the luminous phosphorescence of the moon’s reflection in the sea, and love, sunset, more love, tonight, you and me and the sea and the luminescence, and then I would look out the window of the car at the real sea, and the real cliffs, and the real dramatic landscape that was this distant and unfamiliar other part of my culture, and well, so, as a half-Turkish American, I have been romanticizing being in this house since I was seventeen years old.
The garden here is a paradise of hibiscus, tangly blue and fragrant white jasmine, bougainvillea, pomegranate and bay trees, and a grape vine that my father has trained to climb the side of the house. Two years ago, I harvested a few bunches of green grapes at the end of the summer, and this year, the vines will be old enough to provide shade on the rooftop, where I may sit with a chilly Efes beer and some Turkish pistachios while I watch the sunset over the island that's close enough to swim to. This little bit of land on the Aegean sea is my perfect place on earth.
It takes no cooking skills to make a delectable meal here, as the produce is the Mediterranean sun. Combine a tomato, some garlic, an eggplant and a green pepper, add some buttery rice and a free-range chicken, and you’ve ingested that sun, and it will warm your insides. I have several individual weeks of work in Europe this summer, and I’m trying to figure out how to combine a teaching trip to Bern, Switzerland with a little beach time vacation, and, with Turkey on my mind, I made this spinach, egg and lemon soup. Not as perfumed as it would have been made with those Turkish ingredients, it still managed to conjure sentimental memories of Sezen Aksu, mandarin orange blossoms, and the cool, refreshing Aegean sea. (And some luminescence, too.)
Spinach Soup (Ispanak çorbası)
From Ayla Algar’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking
Put 6 cups of the beef stock (I used chicken stock) in a large pan with the carrots and the celery root; simmer until the vegetables are tender. Wash the spinach several times; shred finely, and add to the pan of soup. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until the spinach is cooked.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Blend in the flour and stir over medium heat until smooth and bubbly. Heat and stir in 2 cups remaining stock, mixing with a wire whisk. Gradually pour this mixture into the soup and simmer 10 minutes. Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice, gradually stir 1 cup of the hot soup into the mixture and blend well. Return this into the soup stirring constantly. Add the dill and parsley. Bring just to the boiling point and remove from heat. Correct the salt.
2 quarts beef stock (or chicken, or vegetable stock)
3 medium carrots, cut into shoestring pieces
1/2 cup celery root (optional), cut into shoestring pieces
3/4 lb. spinach
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley