I’ve heard some people say they (and their significant other) don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because they “prefer to show affection all year ’round!” …didn’t realize you had to choose between the two… To each their own, but Jules and I are always looking for an excuse to pamper each other, and what better time than a holiday all about celebrating relationships? And as with many celebrations, food is a big part of Valentine’s Day, sometimes to our detriment.
Look, we’re all adults here (except those of you reading this who aren’t), so I’m not going side step the issue. Valentine’s Day is not just a time for love. It’s a time for lovin’, if you know what I mean. And nothing kills the mood like the wide range of gastrointestinal issues caused by the well-meaning cook. You may think you’re treating your lover right when you cook them that 16oz ribeye, but how excited will they be about the stomach ache and early bed time that come with it? As Wolfgang Puck says, you know you’ve had a great meal when you feel like you could make love afterward. So we’re gonna make a great meal.
This 4 course meal is meant to be a springboard for your special occasion, and it all starts with a light soup.
The great thing about broth soups is they’re essentially water, so a small bowl won’t fill you up like pasta or something similar would. Granted, the above picture isn’t super impressive, but don’t let that fool ya. The purpose of this soup is to wake up your taste buds a little and get them ready for the other flavors you’ll be throwing their way. Here’s what you need:
• 1 hot pan that had a pork tenderloin cooked in it (optional but suggested)
• 3-4 thin slices of fennel bulb
• 1 rutabaga, cut into small dice and roasted in the oven at 425 for 5 minutes
• 1 red jalapeño, cut into fine dice (smaller than small dice)
• some thinly sliced green onion
• 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
• salt to taste
First, add the roasted rutabaga, red jalapeño, fennel slices, and green onion to your bowls. You only add a little, because this isn’t vegetables in broth – it’s broth with vegetables.
The main course for this meal is a pork tenderloin, pan-seared and finished in the oven. If making the full meal, then once the pork has finished cooking, remove the pork from the pan and put it on a cutting board to rest. Put the hot pan onto a burner on medium heat and add your vegetable stock to the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil and let it cook for about 5 minutes – add salt as desired. Ladle about 1 cup of broth into each of your soup bowls and let sit for 2 minutes. This lightly cooks the vegetables and mellows their flavor, which is especially necessary for the red jalapeño.
That’s all there is to this soup. If not making the pork tenderloin, you can still make this soup just fine. You’ll simply boil the vegetable stock in a pot before adding to the vegetables.
I’m going to share this 4 course meal one dish at a time, because I don’t want anyone feeling locked into only making these dishes if you’re making all of them. They’re each delicious enough to stand on their own. But together, it’s a symphony from beginning to end. Thursday I’ll be back, sharing all the details for course #2, Arugula with Pear and Prosciutto. The 2nd course was Julia’s favorite of the 4, and even surprised me by how good it was. See ya then, folks.
4 Courses to Love – Broth Seasoned with Pork + Vegetables (course one)
- 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
- 1 rutabaga cut into small dice
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1/4 red jalapeño cut into fine dice (smaller than small)
- 3-4 thin slices of fennel bulb
- 1-2 tsp thinly sliced green onion
- salt TT
Prepare the Vegetables:
- Toss rutabaga in oil and roast on a hot pan in a 425 degree oven for 5 minutes.
- Place a few pieces of roasted rutabaga, diced jalapeño, green onion, and 2 small slices of fennel into soup bowls.
Heat the Broth:
- If cooking with meat, heat the vegetable broth in the pan the meat was cooked in for 5 minutes. If not, simply boil the vegetable stock for 5 minutes.
- Ladle 1 cup of broth into each bowl over the vegetables and let it sit for 2 minutes, allowing the vegetables to cook slightly.