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Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bitter: Pork & Dandelion Soup
Categories: Dairy, Dandelion Greens, Pork

Who Me, Bitter?

I went back to Caputo’s this week.

It had been several months since I’d been to the Chicago-land grocery chain in part because I had found inspiration elsewhere. But with the change of season, I figured it was time to see what fresh offerings my favorite produce market had to offer.

I had visions of sweet greens I could turn into something worthy of an Oscar Wilde dinner party. Sort of a soup version of those little cucumber sandwiches, only with watercress instead of cucumbers.

As usual things didn’t work out like I thought. Instead of finding little bundles of watercress at Caputo’s, I found bunches of red dandelion greens, which are kind of like watercress except they’re a lot tougher and incredibly bitter.

Great. What do I know about bitter greens?

I mean, I’ve sautéed dandelions a few times with garlic and collards and mustard greens or some other sharp flavored things, but my main exposure to them is through the lawn mower. The grass at our rental outside Chicago is infested with the stuff and getting worse all the time. What’s more, the dandelions in our lawn don’t even look that healthy.

What kind of a weed is that?

Fortunately, the greens I got at Caputo’s were very attractive—beautifully colored, strong-stemmed and hardy—which almost made up for the lingering bitterness. Just the sort of thing you’d want to toss into a pot of boiling stock.

Next, as I was simmering the greens, I proceeded to sauté some minced garlic, chopped green Cubanelle peppers and ground pork together. Then I folded them all into the soup. The result was not too bad, it was rich and flavorful, but each spoonful of the soup still finished with a really bitter aftertaste.

I needed something to counteract that.  Something that would take the edge off, make the soup mellower and, frankly more palatable. My first instinct was to add a few cups of sour cream. And those extra dollops of dairy fat made the soup a lot better without making it dull in any way.

I won’t say that the soup turned out as nicely as my freshly mown lawn because my lawn hasn’t been nicely mown for a while.

Thanks to a generous gift from my brother-in-law, I had been trimming the lawn for the final two times last fall with a beautiful riding mower.  Sadly, because the mower/tractor has a bent rotor blade, it can’t decide if it’s a mower or a roto-tiller. As a result, my lawn is still recovering from the numerous gouges it received last year. Actually, it may never recover.

Does grass hold a grudge when it gets mistreated? (I’ll keep you posted.)

One thing that is definitely not bitter anymore is my Dandelion Soup. It’s just really tasty.

Now if I could just figure out how to get the stuff out of my lawn.

Pork & Dandelion Soup
(serves 6-8)
6 cups stock
1 lb red dandelion greens, chopped
1 t canola oil
3 green Cubanelle peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground pork
2 cups sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

1. Add the stock to a 3-5 quart soup pot, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, add the dandelion greens, cover and continue with the next step.
2. Warm up the oil in a medium skillet, add the peppers, garlic and pork. Continue to sauté until the meat is browned.
3. Puree the dandelions together with the broth and fold in the ingredients from the skillet.
4. Heat the mixture through, fold in the sour cream, and adjust the seasoning to your own tastes.

Image Credit: “Red Dandelion Greens” from an image discovered online.

Pardon all the references to bitterness in this installment. I’ll work harder to put on a happy face in the coming weeks. Fortunately, I’m in the middle of a mini-vacation right now, so any “un-smiley” faces I had been wearing will soon be turned upside down. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you.

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