Soup Archive

Monday, January 13, 2014

chicken phở

chicken pho

Last week, when the polar vortex, something that ought to be a frozen rum cocktail with an umbrella on top, but is sadly anything but, had begun to descend its icy grasp on all parts of the U.S., I made the best pot of soup of my life.

roasted onions and garlic
cooking the broth in a pot I forgot I had

I realize I said the same — well, I technically called it “the best thing I ate in December” — about last Monday’s soup and that you think I’m being a bit melodramatic and that I need to go to some sort of calm-down-it’s-just-soup rehab for superlative abuse, but you’re only thinking that because you haven’t made this yet. Because while Monday may have been all about the parmesan brodo, by Tuesday night, we were all, “brodo who?” as we dug into bowls of intensely flavored broth with huge tears of succulent chicken and a tangle of rice noodles, topped with everything from scallions to mung bean sprouts, slivers of jalapeno and crispy-fried shallots, basil and cilantro and heady splashes of lime juice, hoisin and garlic-chili sauce that nothing will ever be right without again.

chicken pickins'

Continued after the jump »

Monday, January 6, 2014

parmesan broth with kale and white beans

parmesan broth with kale and white beans

This soup is the very best thing I ate in December, which is saying a lot for a month that involved the purchase of at least 4 pounds of butter. And it didn’t involve any of them. I know, I know — that’s crazy talk.

cheese rinds by the pound
smash some garlic

We had a last-minute dinner party in December, last minute enough that I basically ran to the store that morning and bought everything then cooked straight through until dinner. This is not my style. I’m a dinner party planner; rushing makes my skin crawl. But if there could be an upside to it, it would be that by planning the morning-of, necessary adjustments could be made due to the facts that 1. It was snowing very hard outside, thus, soup was in order. 2. A vegetarian friend (that’s not so strict that cheese is off the menu) was able to make so my beloved chicken stock was out for a base, but I wanted something equally magnanimous.

what you'll need

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

perfect, uncluttered chicken stock

perfect, uncluttered chicken stock

I have spent a spectacular amount of time over the last seven years lying to you, pretending to care about soup when I, in fact, did not. I had good intentions, I mean, I get it: Soup is Healthy and Wholesome and Good For You and Warming and Comforting and all sorts of other Hallmark card-like sentiments that I’m not immune to the charms of, but the fact is, I wasn’t a soup person (so many spoonfuls exactly like the one before until I died of boredom may have been a description I’d have used, if I was being honest) and most of the soup recipes I shared here stemmed from attempts at changing this, with varying degrees of success. Most were only temporary.

let's talk about soup
chicken wings + onion + garlic + water + salt

Yet despite my repeated efforts at recipe-based solutions, it was not a specific combination of ingredients that turned me into the not-even-faking-it soup booster I am today, but two structural shifts. The first was an appreciation of garnishes, and I don’t mean a flurry of chopped parsley, but real, substantial ones, like crisped chickpeas, broiled cheddar, toasted cumin seed crema, and baked potato fixings. With these things half-stirred into the soup below them, no two spoonfuls were exactly alike again, and I felt I’d been released from soup monotony.

slow-cooker in the living room

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

lentil soup with sausage, chard and garlic

winter, bring it on

Every year around this time — well into the winter season, but long after we found it charmingly brisk, as it is when you do googly-eyed things like ice skating around a sparkling tree at the holidays — we get some sort of brittle cold snap in the weather that catches me by surprise. Even though we live in New York, a place where a cold snap or two a January is as predictable as being hosed by some unspeakably awful puddle of street juice slush by a car spinning through an intersection; even though I’ve lived in this exact climate for every one of my thirty-I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it years; and even though I have the audacity to look forward to winter every sticky concrete-steaming summer, when I walk outside on that first 20-degree day and the wind gusts into my face and renders it hard to exhale, the very first thing I do is audibly holler in rage and disbelief, “WHAT THE WHAT?” I am nothing — as we joke when my sweet little son tries to clomp down the hallway in his dad’s massive boots and immediately falls on his tush — if not Harvard Material.

all of this + 24 degrees outside: let's go!

Weeks like the one we’re having on the East Coast require their own bourbon cocktail plane tickets to someplace tropical and child-free, uh, family-friendly elixir and although I’ve previously found comfort in such meal intensities as lasagna bolognese, chili and mushroom and noodles, glorified, I think this year’s pick — a hearty Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard and Garlic trumps them all. It hails from the new cookbook from the guy behind one of the first food blogs I ever read, and still do, The Amateur Gourmet. I think you should buy it right this very second. Why? Because in it, Adam Roberts does what he does best — schmooze with great chefs and get them to spill the dirt, all in the name of making us better home cooks.

[He's also good at this with less famous, non-chefs, such as yours truly, when he got me to confess to a packed room last month my top-secret, totally-un-PC method of getting toddlers to occasionally eat what you'd like them to, not that I'd be crazy enough to let that happen twice.]

the easiest simmer

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

gnocchi in tomato broth + more book tour

gnocchi in tomato broth

I realize that when it comes to January Food — carrot sticks, soup, legumes and other things I suspect, what with it being the third week of the month, you are already tiring of — gnocchi, thick dumpling-like pasta made from potatoes, hardly makes the cut. It’s, in fact, not even invited to the party, having no place among the sweatband-ed, pumped up, high-topped aerobicized… okay, maybe my brain went straight past “earnest attempts at resolution-inspired rebalance” to a Richard Simmons video, circa 1982. These things, they happen.

readying the tomato broth
a hearty tomato soup's elegant leavings

But a kale-apple-ginger smoothie, gnocchi is not. And yet, this dish from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is one of my favorite things to make after a month of holiday gluttony because it is both light and filling, yet warm enough for the coldest day. The thing with gnocchi is that it’s so plagued by a reputation of being bad for you that it’s presumed that if you’re eating it, your arteries/girth/sense of proportion must already be doomed so let’s just ladle on the blue cheese, okay? And, indeed, most restaurants will serve it with butter, cream, cheese and other rich ingredients, such as truffles, probably with more butter. It’s not my thing; I think such preparations wreck the delicacy that’s at the heart of perfect gnocchi, which is featherlight, dumpling-like and best appreciated in a puddle of intensely flavored broth. It’s true: I turned the Italian classic of gnocchi and red sauce into a riff on matzo ball soup, and I’m not even a little sorry.

a snowdrift of riced potato

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