Saturday, January 16, 2016

Portuguese Coriander Soup

Soups, as comfort food, always come to my mind when it is very cold. So I used these couple of freezing days we had as an excuse to try a recipe for a soup that I read about some time ago, and that have been intriguing me ever since. Even more as coriander bunches that I had in my refrigerator were about to fade away. Finally, this coriander soup reminds me of a very popular and unique sorrel soup which we have in Polish cuisine, so I was curious to compare them.

The soup turned out very surprising in a good way. Very light but flavored and fresh, slightly sour, and extremely green. And yes, because of that slight sourness, it tasted similar to the sorrel soup, while roasted bread and melting cheese brought the French onion soup taste. But, at the end, despite those similarities, it was just another and very original cilantro soup.

As often in a very simple recipe a quality of ingredients is very important for the final taste. For this recipe, the most important thing is to have a good base - a good quality chicken stock. Best would be home made, but a good quality free range organic broth from a box can be used too. Also, a sour bread which I used to make the croutons enriched the soup with the extra tart taste.

Cilantro Soup
(Serves four)

3 bunches of fresh coriander, 5 garlic cloves, 4 cups of chicken stock, 5 slices of a day-old, sourdough country bread, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp shredded Fontina cheese, or mild Cheddar, salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cut bread into half-inch cubes. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the bread turning frequently, until dark gold all over. Set aside.
2. Wash well and chop coriander (preferably leaves only) and place in a food processor.
3. In a small pot, bring a cup of water to boiling, add garlic cloves and let them simmer for about 3 minutes until they soften. Drain and add to the chopped coriander. Add one cup of water, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Bring chicken stock to boil. Take out one cup and add to food processor with coriander. Whirl several times until a green purée forms.
5. Add coriander purée to the hot stock. Bring to boil and simmer for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it infuse for another 3 minutes.

6. Divide croutons between four bowls. Cover with each with a tbsp of cheese and pour over the soup.

7. Serve it hot.