Fine Cooking (October/November 2011)
Let's face it -- a Beet Green and Bulgur Soup sounds like something you might eat on a hippie commune. We're picturing patchouli, tie-dye and conversations about the merits of firm versus silken tofu.
Well, call us hippies, because this soup is not only simple and quick to prepare, it's also unbelievably delicious.
Let's talk about the ingredients here.
First up: Bulgur. We've only cooked with bulgur twice. The first time was Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash (which we loved). The second time was for The Burgers That Shall Not Be Named. In each of those dishes, however, bulgur wasn't really the star of the show. Here, the bulgur is front and center. In the broth, it plumps up like little pearls, reminiscent of steel-cut oats. It's a nice bit of texture in an otherwise silky-smooth soup.
Some of you may live near markets that allow you to buy beet greens on their own. At our farmers market, we can sometimes find Bull's Blood beet greens by the pound. We weren't able to find them for this recipe, and instead purchased two bunches of beets and just whacked the top off of them. (We then roasted the beets and are eating them in various forms this week.) In this soup, the beet greens act more like spinach or kale -- not a recognizable beet flavor, but just a nice fresh "green" taste.
It's the egg, though, that really makes this soup. Poached in this satiny broth, the egg becomes extraordinarily creamy. When you break the yolk with your spoon, and the egg infuses the broth with its golden yellow goodness, it's an absolute revelation. (Why have we not been dropping eggs into our soup all along? We have been fools!)
The only ingredient here that we question is the Parmesan, which gets sprinkled on top of the soup as a finishing touch. The first night we ate this soup, we used the Parm. We loved the soup, but didn't feel as if the cheese really made a difference in the finished dish. The second night we ate this, we omitted the cheese (by accident, actually). We never missed it, and we still loved the soup. So if you're not a dairy person, we don't think you'll miss anything by leaving out the cheese.
Other good news for the time-challenged among us: This is not a long-simmered soup. It comes together in about a half hour, and there's little prep involved.
This soup is the definition of comfort. It's light but not thin, and it's exactly the kind of thing you want on a cold day, or when you have the sniffles, or when you just want something comforting to eat. It's the soup equivalent of wrapping a warm blanket around yourself and snuggling in on the couch.
And we can't wait to eat it again.
Nutritional Information available at FineCooking.com
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 quarts lower-salt chicken or vegetable broth
- 8 cups lightly packed stemmed beet greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup whole-grain, quick-cooking bulgur (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Update: As Neil rightly points out in the comments, you should only use as many eggs as portions you're serving. Each portion should get only one egg. If you're planning to eat this soup over multiple meals, you can poach the eggs for those leftovers after you've reheated the soup.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot that’s about 10 inches wide over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beet greens and bulgur. Cover and simmer vigorously, adjusting the heat as needed, until the greens and bulgur are tender, about 24 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Adjust the heat as needed to achieve a gentle simmer. Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl and pour it onto the soup near the edge of the pot. Repeat with the remaining eggs, positioning them around the perimeter of the pot. Spoon hot broth over the eggs and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes.
Carefully ladle the soup and eggs into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and serve.