This is a variation of the soup that John’s mother prepared from Africa to America. Accompanied by a salad, garlic-rubbed bruschetta and a glass of wine, it was often an entire dinner. (Fresh spinach was hard to come by in Eritrea – so when she had it, the family cherished it.)
2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of chopped garlic
8 ozs spinach
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup riso*
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
*Typically, you’ll make this soup with rice but I prefer to use riso, a small pasta in the shape of rice. You could also use the larger orzo.
What you do
Was the spinach thoroughly and trim any long stems.
Heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic. Don’t let it brown. Add the spinach and wilt for a couple of minutes. (The spinach, not the cook.)
Add the chicken stock and bring to gentle simmer. Add the riso. Cook until the riso is done – about eleven minutes. If you’re using rice, about twenty minutes.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with the grated parmesan cheese.
John’s wine pairing:
I chose a 2009 Barnwood Grenache Blanc, from Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard. We belief in shopping local wherever possible – though we’ll break the rule for outstanding exceptions! – and this wine certainly falls into the local category; the vineyard is 85 miles up the road from our berth. It’s an unusual varietal, a Grenache blanc in the style of classic Rhone wines. It comes from grapes grown at 3000ft, one of the highest elevation vineyards in the U.S. The Grenache brings a complexity and depth of flavor and this particular wine stands up well to the prominent flavors of garlic and olive oil this soup features. It’s also perfect for much more robust soups and stews.