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spinach and rosemary soup with soda bread


Thanks to my first online cooking class from Ballymaloe Cookery School, which was highly enjoyable, my husband and I had a meal of beautiful bright green spinach and rosemary soup with tangy buttermilk laced white soda bread inspired from the Irish countryside.  A bright spot in an otherwise quarantined life of constant routine with never enough variety for my taste.  
I had a trip to Ireland booked this past summer that included a visit with cooking classes to Ballymaloe but it was unfortunately canceled because of COVID and quarantine, like most of 2020.  I'm looking forward to 2021 and I'm sure most everyone feels the same way, bah humbug to 2020, good riddance to bad rubbish, out with the old and in with the new year.

Ingredients and Recipes for Spinach and Rosemary Soup and Soda Bread
Serves 4-6

for the soup
2 ounces or 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups creamy milk (1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 & 1/2 cups whole milk)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces or 3 full cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Rosemary flowers and baby spinach leaves for garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy dutch oven, when it gets foamy add the onions and potatoes, stir to combine with butter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the pot and let the mixture gently simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the broth and the creamy milk, bring back to simmer, cooking until potatoes and onions are tender.  Add the spinach and simmer with the lid off for about 3-4 minutes, until the spinach is just tender, don't overcook or you will lose the fresh green color of the spinach, add the rosemary.  Turn off the heat and blend the soup using a stick blender.  Taste for seasoning.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh spinach leaf and rosemary flowers, if desired.
Note:  This soup may be gently reheated, serve with white soda bread.

for the soda bread
3 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
1 teaspoons fine sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 & 3/4 cups plus 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450F

In a large bread bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and sea salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in 1 & 3/4 cups buttermilk.  Using one hand as a scoop fold the buttermilk into the flour mixture, adding the additional buttermilk if needed to make a soft not too wet and sticky dough.
When the dough is mixed together properly turn it out on a floured surface and gently press it together to form a round bread.  Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet and cut a deep cross on the top.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 400F and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
The bread will have an internal temperature of about 190F when done.  It should feel hollow when tapped on the bottom and be nicely browned.   Cool the bread before slicing.


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