Monday, January 14, 2013


2 medium leeks

2 quarts cold water

2 large carrots

2 medium turnips, peeled and sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

2 large stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 large sprigs Italian parsley

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut up

2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and quartered

2 bay leaves

2 large basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon whole peppercorns

2 green zucchini, trimmed and cut up

½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut up

1   tablespoon salt

Remove roots from leeks and trim off the rough darker leaves.  Cut leeks lengthwise in half, and each half again lengthwise.  Cut into 3-inch pieces and drop into a large basin with plenty of cold water.  Wash thoroughly, spreading the leaves apart to remove the dirt.  Place in a large stockpot with 2 quarts of cold water and all the other ingredients.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for approximately ½ hour.   Strain through a fine strainer.

NOTE 1:  The vegetables used to make the broth can be served as a side dish.  Season them with 2 tablespoons of wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. 

From:  Edda Servi Machlin, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, Croton on Hudson, Giro Press, 1982.

Note 2: Having now essayed the Miso Soup/Hollow Man Diet (100% miso soup all the time) for a week or so, prefatory to a self-imposed stay-on-it-until-the-diet-is-finished rĂ©gime, I think I will occasionally substitute this broth for sustenance.  As much as I like miso soup, and as many subtle ways as it can be varied, it does become boring.

Edda Servi Machlin’s book is wonderful and a classic itself.  Taking it down from my bookshelf this cold, gray morning, I noticed that my mother had the volume inscribed by the author, a nice discovery.   Although many of the dishes Ms. Machlin writes about are more obviously enticing than this spartan soup, this is a richly appealing, harmonious, subtle and "complete" recipe.  To imbibe the brodo together with its dressed vegetable parents, as Ms. Machlin recommends, at a solitary table sounds to me like a launching pad for enlightenment.

However, for readers unable to muster my (or any) level of excitement in the plain company of a brodo vegetale recipe, I have also provided Edward Burne-Jones' drawing below for delectation.  A sketch of Aglaia Coronio (link), model for the right-hand figure in Burne-Jones’ 1882 painting The Mill in the Victoria & Albert Museum, who died under tragic circumstances in 1906, Ms. Coronio was in the news this week as the original owner of Burne –Jones' astonishing full-scale 1871 sketch series for Days of Creation (link), which Bonham’s London will be auctioning on January 23d.

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