England’s Secret Rhubarb Soup…

To go on a mini-quest to find a unique recipe for a sour vegetable with not much substance is quite a challenge. Let us talk about Rhubarb. With its supply not so abundant and people’s demand for rhubarb not quite as high as other vegetables, rhubarb is indeed a rare vegetable.

Though the existence of rhubarb is rare, it can be cooked with fish and fruit. Trust me, the combination which comes across is tongue-smacking.

I first tasted a Rhubarb soup when I was in England. It was quite nostalgic for me as I had lost track of this dish though I used to love it once. Rhubarb soup is a hot favorite soup dish in the UK because of its tendency to fall apart completely even when cooked for a little while.

Rhubarb soup can only be consumed if it is sweet. Sour rhubarb soup tastes so good that you’ll ask for more.

Another way to sweeten the rhubarb; you could drench it with juice and a zest of orange in addition to sugar. A dollop of sour cream completes the flavor of rhubarb and ready for cooking.

I recommend that you take about less than a quarter of stems each season if you are harvesting from a plant. You need to be careful because if you take more it loses its energy for future years. After you buy the smallest stems possible, use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer layer.

Just put your hat on… Let’s cook rhubarb right now.

— Orange Rhubarb Soup —

~ 1 cup sugar

~ 1 medium orange

~ 2 pounds rhubarb

~ Sour cream, lightly sweetened yogurt, creme anglaise, whipped cream, creme fraiche, or vanilla or other ice cream, optional

Zest orange and mince zest; juice the orange. Remove string from rhubarb, then cut rhubarb into roughly 2-inch lengths.

Combine rhubarb, sugar, 4 cups water, orange juice and half the zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Wrap and refrigerate remaining zest. Turn heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until rhubarb begins to fall apart.

Chill; if you’re in a hurry, pour mixture into a large bowl and set that bowl in an even larger bowl filled with ice water. When cool, whisk briefly to break up rhubarb, adding reserved zest at same time. Serve cold, with sour cream or any of the alternatives listed.

— Carrot Rhubarb Soup —

~ 1 garlic clove – peeled

~ 1 tablespoon diet margarine – unsalted

~ 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese, part skim milk – optional flavoring

~ 1 teaspoon cinnamon – freshly grated

~ 1 teaspoon olive oil

~ 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

~ 1/2 pound rhubarb – cut in 1/2″ pieces

~ 1-1/2 pounds carrots – cut in 1/2″ dice

~ 1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth – low or no fat

~ 2 cups lowfat 1% milk

~ 2 shallots – minced

~ 2 teaspoons chicken broth

~ 3 ounces sourdough bread (6 slices) – cut 1/2 inch thick

~ 6 sprigs fresh chervil – for garish

~ salt and pepper – to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the shallots in the butter-substitute until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the carrots are just tender. Add the rhubarb and orange juice, cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more.

Puree the carrot and rhubarb mixture with the broth in until smooth. Return to a clean saucepan and combine with the milk. Season with salt and pepper and the ricotta cheese, if using.

CROUTON (3 x 3 – inch piece): Preheat the oven to 350 F. Brush the bread on both sides with some olive oil and/or broth. Arrange on a baker’s sheet in a single layer. Toast the bread until nicely browned on both sides in the oven. Rub the bread on one side with the garlic clove and dust with cinnamon.

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