11.49 am: Medium latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup and skim milk at South End Buttery. The world’s most adorable shaggy-ish black dog with a red leash and matching collar is trying so hard to get inside, but not only is he tied up, but there’s a brick on his leash, further impeding him. Still, he stands in the middle of the doorway, trying his damndest. When I bend over to say hello on my way in, he wipes the entire right side of my face with his tongue, from my jawline right up to my eyeglasses’ frame.
12.04 – 1.08 pm: Multi-seed bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese, plus the extra cheese Stephanie scrapes off of her bagel, as I love schmear upon schmear of cream cheese and Stephanie does not. It takes us ages to eat because we won’t shut up about dogs, having/not having babies, 30 Rock and Thanksgiving.
3.19 pm: Mug of hot milk with honey.
7.04 pm: Coke Zero while cooking. It is sick how much I love this stuff. I blame my parents — I was only allowed to have soda when we had pizza, was at someone else’s house or at a restaurant. Now I can’t get enough of it.
7.56 pm: Two slices Kraft American cheese while cooking dinner. What I said about Coke Zero up there? Ditto for American cheese.
8.24 pm: Coke Zero number two.
8.50 – 9.15 pm: Garlic soup with spinach and pasta shells, along with toasted baguette slices and Gruyère cheese. It’s not quite cold enough outside for soup, even though it’s November, but it’s still pretty darn good. And just barely over two hundred calories, in case you were curious…
2 heads of garlic
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon olive oil
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each thyme and parsley, and a fresh sage leaf
Salt to taste
½ cup small macaroni shells
6 ½-inch thick slices country bread, toasted and rubbed with a cut clove of garlic
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated and tightly packed
4 egg yolks
6 ounce bag baby spinach
- Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice and water. Separate the head of garlic into cloves and drop them into the boiling water. Blanch for 30 seconds, then transfer to the ice water. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then drain and remove the skins from the garlic cloves. They’ll be loose and easy to remove. Crush the cloves lightly by leaning on them with the side of a chef’s knife.
- Place the garlic cloves in a large saucepan with 2 quarts of water, the olive oil, bouquet garni, and salt to taste, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Strain and return the broth to the saucepan. Taste and adjust salt, and bring back to a simmer.
- Add the macaroni shells to the broth and simmer until cooked al dente.
- Distribute the garlic croutons among 6 soup bowls and top each one with a heaped tablespoon of cheese. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl. Making sure that it is not boiling, whisk in a ladleful of the hot garlic broth.
- Add the spinach to the simmering broth and stir for 30 seconds to a minute, until all of the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the tempered egg yolks. Stir for a minute, taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle the soup over the cheese-topped croutons, and serve.
Advance preparation: You can make the garlic broth a day ahead and refrigerate.