Southern Comfort...

Every so often, I like to push my own boundaries. Usually, if I find a recipe that calls for an ingredient I don't care for, I usually leave it out, or substitute it for something I do like. Yet, when I saw a compelling soup recipe in Bon Appetit that would allow me to use up more of the supply of andouille I acquired last week, I decided to make the recipe as written, even though it called for a combination of turnip, mustard, and collard greens. Normally, I would have substituted spinach for those, as I don't tend to like dark, leafy greens, but I figured Justin probably would, given his more accepting view on vegetables in general. Since I've been trying to integrate more vegetables into our diet at his request, I thought I'd see if I could trick myself into eating them in this soup.

Soup, it turns out, is about the best way I've found to get myself to eat vegetables. I can happily eat a bowl of minestrone, even though I would never voluntarily eat its component parts if they were presented to me on a plate instead of a bowl. I also have a soft spot in my heart for cream of mushroom soup, even though the texture of mushrooms would ordinarily make me gag. 

If anything was going to get me to eat greens, it was going to be this soup. It featured rich, smoky andouille, a hint of spice, and most importantly, it called for dumplings. My love for dumplings knows no bounds, whether they be Chinese potstickers, Polish pierogies, Italian ravioli, Czech bread dumplings, or Jewish kreplach or even matzoh balls, so I figured the dumplings would help the greens go down more easily. These dumplings were made from cornmeal, which, in tandem with the andouille, gave the soup a decidedly Southern bent.

Yet somehow, nothing about this soup turned out the way I expected. It was Justin, the confirmed lover of veggies, who didn't like the greens. He found them to be too tough, and suggested I use spinach instead if I made it again, while I actually didn't mind their texture or flavor. What he did like were the dumplings, which I absolutely hated. That's right, I finally met a dumpling I didn't like, and it originated in my own kitchen. The first bite of them was okay, but as soon as the liquid from the soup hit the inside of the dumplings, they started to disintegrate into the soup, thickening the broth and distracting from its smoky, spicy flavor. I ended up picking out all of mine. 

I find myself left in a conundrum about this dish; I really liked the soup exactly as it was, and would readily make it again, but Justin didn't care for it as much as I did. If I had it to do over, I would make cornbread and serve it on the side, where Justin could crumble it into his soup if he so desired, but I'm not sure I would acquiesce to his request for spinach. I'm actually proud of myself for eating collard, turnip, and mustard greens and liking them, and I'm not sure I want to give up that victory. Still, if it means getting to eat this soup again, I suppose I could give in -- after all, they say that relationships run on compromise. I could stand to relent just this once...

Mixed-Greens and Sausage Soup
adapted from Bon Appétit 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound andouille sausages, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
6 c. chicken broth
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon Tabasco, or hot pepper sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 12 oz. bag mixed turnip, mustard, and collard greens, any thick stems cut away (about 12 cups packed)

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add sausage; sauté until fat renders, 3 to 4 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with juice, hot sauce, and allspice; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add greens to simmering soup. Cook greens uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20-25 minutes more. Serve with cornbread on the side.

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