My very first cookbook, a gift for my 20th birthday, was Michael Field’s Cooking School. Michael Field was an acclaimed concert pianist who later turned his creativity to cooking. He became equally renowned in culinary endeavors as a chef, cooking teacher, and editor of the first, priceless Time/Life Foods of the World series. (There was, later, a second series, equally priceless, edited by Richard Olney.) I think I made every delicious, enlightening recipe from that birthday book over the next several years as I reveled in the magic and joy of cooking, suffered the inevitable failures of the novice, and honed techniques from his explicit instructions. He became, undoubtedly, my first mentor, before I even knew my career path would lead me to the kitchen.
A spinach soup with scallions and not a lot else except for chicken broth became one of my “return to” favorites. The love has lasted, with very little tweaking except that I always use fresh, not frozen, spinach because it’s readily available year round these days, usually already cleaned! The soup is so refreshing and so simple to make it can be ready, start to finish, in less than 30 minutes. Currently, I like it for breakfast, a warm (reheats beautifully in the microwave) and savory encouragement to meet the day, especially with the sieved egg for added protein.
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup (filtered) water
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, including tender tops
16 packed cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Place the eggs in a small saucepan, add water to cover, cover the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and let sit for 9 minutes. Drain and add cold water to cool. Peel and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the water and scallions, stir to mix, and cook, still over medium heat, until the scallions are thoroughly wilted, about 5 minutes.
3. Place the spinach in a large bowl and add tap water to cover generously. Swish the leaves, then let rest until the water is quiet. Lift out the leaves (do not pour) into a colander.
4. Add half the washed spinach to the pot, cover, and cook until the spinach wilts enough to make room for the second half, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the remaining washed spinach and the garlic, cover, and continue cooking until the leaves are completely wilted down, 2 or 3 minutes.
5. Add the broth and salt, stir to mix, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a brisk simmer, partially cover, and cook until the spinach is limp and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
6. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, grate hard boiled egg over each, and serve.