The first time I saw flor de nabo was a few years ago on a sidewalk in the Roma. A woman was selling it out of a big plastic bag, and I, ever the quelite-scouter, stopped to ask her: “Qué tipo de quelite es?” She said flor de nabo. I loved how pretty it was, so I bought a kilo right there.
Flor de nabo drifted out of my life until last week, when I saw it on the menu at Rosetta, an Italian restaurant in the Roma. Then a few days later I found a sidewalk vendor selling a bagful near the Meracdo Portales.
Cooking flor de nabo
When raw, flor de nabo tastes bitter and sharp. Cooking it for a long period of time in broth brings out its natural sweetness, with little touches of mustard and pepper. Because it was so rainy and dreary outside, I bought a kilo from the Portales vendor and decided to make soup. (Another day I’ll maybe try to attempt Rosetta’s garlickly flor de nabo with orecchiette pasta.)
The soup ended up being just what I craved: comforting and hearty, with just enough pizzazz to brighten up the gray day. Here’s the recipe, in case you’re needing some comfort-food inspiration.
Chicken Soup with Flor de Nabo, Carrots and Noodles
For the broth:
1 chicken breast
1 small piece onion (about 1/4 chunk of small onion)
1 bay leaf
5 or 6 peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 big clove garlic
For the soup:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped
About 1/2 pound flor de nabo, chopped (stems included)
100 grams noodles of your choice
Salt to taste
Place the chicken breast in a pot and cover with water. Add onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and garlic, with a few pinches of salt. Bring to boil, skim off any scum and then lower the flame. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Note that the time is variable — my chicken breast weighed about a pound, but for smaller chicken breasts and regular altitudes, I’d start checking at the 25-minute mark.
When chicken is cooked, remove from the flame and cool while you chop your vegetables. Then strain the broth and reserve both the broth and the meat separately.
Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and cook until translucent; then add garlic and stir, cooking with the onion until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the carrots and mix well. Then add the chopped flor de nabo, some pieces of chicken breast (I just tore some off with my hands and shredded it directly into the pot) and your reserved chicken broth. (You can add as much broth as you want, depending on how thick you like your soup.) Season with more salt and black pepper.
Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the flame, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Season for more salt and pepper and serve hot.