I have some super duper exciting news. After lots of soul-searching, life-assessing, hard-working events, it’s finally official. I will be starting Acupuncture school this Fall. It’s a huge life change for me, but it’s just what I needed.
For the past, well, as long as I can remember, I’ve been a music teacher. I’ve been through the first day at a new school jitters, the mid-Febrary slump, Spring Concert excitement and Summer break relief. I’ve dealt with driving to 4 schools every day, a crazy nun for a principal, an inner-city start-up with no instruments, textbooks or copy paper, unsupportive Kindergarten teachers wearing $400 dresses, and snotty, entitled rich kids. I’ve taught in three states, in urban, rural and suburban environments, from Pre-K to high school. I taught orchestra, chorus, general music, group piano, drama and rock band classes. I kept thinking it’s gonna get better, if only I found the right school.
Well, I never did, and now I’ve given up trying. Goodbye teacher’s life, hello being a student all over again. I know going back after all this time will be a challenge, but I’m thrilled to learn everything this path has to offer. You can expect a few changes around here, too, with my new-found life. One, on a student’s budget (and time frame) you’ll probably see more quick, frugal recipes. And two, I’ll be able to share some of my new, Chinese medicine tidbits with you. After all, the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else, right?
And now, on to the soup. I kept seeing purslane at the Farmer’s Market every week, and wanting to try it, but always spying too many other good things I had to pass it up. This week, there was a sign that said “Purslane, High in Omega-3′s $2.00″ And it was a huge bunch, so I got it (cheap, remember). Turns out, purslane is the highest in Omega-3 fatty acids of all plants, which is pretty funny, considering that most people consider it a weed. In fact, if you can’t find it at the market (and 99% chance it’s not at the grocery store) you may just find it in your back yard. But please, only eat it if you are absolutely certain that it’s purslane, and not some poisonous plant.
Purslane’s leaves are succulent, like a cactus, or aloe plant, and it’s got a tart, lemony flavor, so I paired it with potatoes for a little creamy richness (don’t worry, it’s still a light, summer soup). My plan was for the potatoes to act as “croutons” to sit on top of the soup, but alas, they sunk! So, let me know if you figure out how to make them float.
Purslane Soup with Herbed Potatoes
2-3 T. olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, about a 1/2 in. dice, divided
2 T. chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
4 c. vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. herbs de provence, or another blend of dried herbs
1 bunch purslane, leaves and small stems only, about 2 packed cups
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot over medium low. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Tip in the garlic, half the potatoes and the fresh thyme, and stir to combine. Let cook for a minute or two, until fragrant, then pour in the vegetable broth. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn down to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a few pinches of salt and the herbs de provence and stir to coat in the oil. Stir in the rest of the potatoes, again coating them in the oil. If you are tempted to stir and flip and play with them, leave the room. Let them sit for 7-8 minutes, until they get a good crust on one side. Flip them using a thin spatula, then continue to cook and flip until they’re brown on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. It will take a good 30 minutes or more, so be patient and make sure the heat isn’t too high so they don’t get burnt.
When the soup potatoes are soft, add the purslane to the pot. Let it wilt for a few minutes then remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. You can also use a regular blender, just transfer in batches and don’t forget to vent for steam. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, go rustic and keep it chunky. Taste the soup, and add salt and pepper a little bit at a time until the flavors pop.
To serve, ladle into soup bowls and top with the potatoes. Do a little dance to make them float – but they’ll probably sink anyways. Finish with a little fresh thyme on top.