The more I cook, I realize that I like simple flavours and few ingredients best. It occurred to me the other night as I stirred a Greek peasant soup that’s nothing more than some chickpeas and lemon simmered in broth. This weekend visiting Sameer, it was sweet butter lettuce, pomegranate arils and thin apple slices with a wisp of dressing. Most of what I eat is a few things, lovingly combined.
I’ve been cooking for a long time – and when I was younger, I reveled in complexity. I devoured molecular gastronomy and made multi-step brioches and attempted salmon sous-vide in my university kitchen (a very bad idea: salmon is not meant to be sous vide, as it goes). My salmon excepted, this cooking is often beautiful. I wouldn’t be so enamoured with Grant Achatz and Ferran Adrià if I didn’t appreciate complicated food. But in my own kitchen, more and more it’s less and less.
Anyway, tonight I pulled together dinner. A blended soup of broccoli, celery stalks, vegetable broth and black pepper finished with a swirly glug of olive oil. And I’m afraid that’s it. It tasted so good: a little sweet, creamy, warm and with an unusual depth considering its five ingredients and no aromatic base. I wanted to share it right away so you could make it, too. But a recipe for boiled broccoli seems unnecessary, given all the gorgeous and complex things out there to make and eat.
Instead I leave you with this: next time you see a most beautiful head of broccoli, buy it – for me. Slice it up (stems and all) with a stalk or two of celery and cover it with good vegetable stock. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. Test for salt and pepper. Blend. Slurp with some olive oil from a big white mug – and feel the kind of contentedness only soup brings.