Monday, January 2, 2012

Gougeres and Herbed Chard and Collard Green Soup with Feta

It's a cold winter's day here. And a good day for soup. Particularly a healthy green soup brimming with cilantro and mint and topped with a large dollop of greek yogurt, and sprinkled with feta. Accompanied with gougeres, which is a fancy term for savory cheese puffs, makes this a filling lunch. I used a combination of parmesan and gruyere cheese, as well as fresh chives to the mix.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion or 4-5 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
About 10 cups swiss chard leaves or a mix of spinach or collard greens (center ribs and stems removed), coarsely chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
fresh lemon juice
drizzing of olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until translucent and soft (do not brown), 7-8 minutes. Stir in chard, collards, broth, cilantro and mint. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally until greens are tender. About 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Puree soup with a handheld immersion blender. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with about a tablespoon of yogurt and feta and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
4 large whole eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line three large baking sheets with nonstick baking mats, such as Silpats, or parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup water with the butter, salt, sugar, paprika and pepper over medium high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, add flour, stirring until flour is no longer visible. Stir in both cheeses and mix til cheese is just melted.

Let sit for a couple minutes for the dough mixture to cool. Slowly add one egg at a time, making sure flour mixture is cool enough to not cook the eggs. The dough should be light and shiny. Test the batter by touching it with your finger and lifting- it should form a soft peak. If a soft peak does not form, the batter needs more egg. If you have added all the egg and the batter still won't form a soft peak, add an egg white, a little at a time, until it does.

Transfer dough to a pastry pag fitted with a 5/8 inch plain tip. Pipe puffs into swirls about 1 1/2 inch wide. Sprinkle each with parmesan. Bake, rotating halfway through, until puffs are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately or keep tightly wrapped.

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