Soup Archive

Saturday, April 9, 2011

french onion soup

french onion soup

I’m firmly of the belief that no matter what ails you in the realm of the kitchen, onion soup can cure it. Never cooked before? Don’t think you’ll be able to pull off the kind of cooking you believe you need to go to a restaurant to experience? Start with onion soup. Have only $5 to spend on dinner? Refrigerator is almost bare? Onion soup is your friend. Want your home to have a transcendent aroma bouncing off every wall, the kind that’s so distracting that you don’t even know or care what’s on the stove, only that you must have it now? Onion soup is waiting for you.

sliced onions, weepy blogger
after 15 minutes heating

I realize it was unfair to even make a passing reference to weepingly delicious onion soup the other day without refreshing it here. I talked up once in 2006, a lifetime ago (or several, if you’re this guy) but it was a very literal recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking which benefits from some streamlining. And yet, not too much. Onion soup is a remarkably simple thing to make but when simplified too liberally — I’ve seen recipes that instructed you to just caramelize onions for a bit, add stock, cheese etc. — the nuance that raises it to the transcendent level I’ve known it to be gets lost. Julia Child’s original version — with the very long caramelization of onions that I beg you not to skimp on because this is all the work there really is, the slip of raw grated onion, the cheese within and on top of the soup and starting the croutons toasted hard so they don’t fall apart in the soup — raises the soup beyond the everyday, without making it too difficult to whip up almost any day. Which I promise will happen when you realize the staggering gap between effort and outcome that Child’s onion soup manages to bridge.

after long, slow caramelization

Continued after the jump »

Monday, January 31, 2011

mushroom and farro soup

mushroom farro soup

Barely two weeks ago, I used the following phrases to describe soup: “vegetables boiled to death,” “assaulted with too much cream,” “whatever healthy things in there cannot be tasted,” and even “what must have been a practical joke” about an especially awful one I’d ordered recently. I admitted that I found soup boring, and my relationship to it has been on especially unstable terms this year after repeated disappointments.

soaking dried porcinis
slicing

We then proceeded to eat soup for dinner for the next 14 days. What happened? It turns out that baked potato soup is a gateway drug, in that when we finished it, we wanted more soup. Different soup. We swore we could stop any time we wanted, but three batches of soup later, we realize we might have underestimated the power of good soup, the kind that is filling but also freeing of the nightly “What’s for dinner?” because, it’s already made and only needs to be reheated. I’ll admit that the fear of The Swimsuit when we go on vacation in a few weeks may have also egged on this habit, but it was the soup — come on, you know you wanna! — that really kept us engaged.

steamy mushrooms

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

baked potato soup

baked potato soup

We’re on day two of something called a “wintry mix” which I suspect if I lived in one of those places where one was forced to wear shorts and sunglasses in January, eating food plucked recently from the ground (pea tendrils, anyone?) I’d imagine constituted a fun day of mixed winter activities, like snowfall fights followed by ice skating and then, if you’re not too tuckered out, some hot cocoa before you head home. Alas, a “wintry mix” is the precise reason my only current goal in life is to flee to someplace tropic and sandy.

russets
peeling and cubing

And make soup. Except, me and soup have been on unstable terms this year. I know its the “right” thing to eat this time of year but my relationship with soup has been near-irreparably damaged by too many bowls of vegetables boiled to death in an oversalted broth, soups assaulted with so much cream that whatever healthy things in there cannot be tasted, and in what I imagine had to have been some sort of practical joke, a soup I ordered from from a cafe a few weeks ago that tasted, smelled and sloshed about like freezer-bitten spinach pureed in water. (It cost $6.95.)

leeks

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

roasted eggplant soup

goat cheese topped eggplant soup

I’ve been doing a spectacular amount of hemming and hawing over this post. There’s the, “Is it too late to talk about eggplants and tomatoes?” question, as it is well into October and eggplants are so… late summery. But there are still a ton of eggplants and tomatoes at the markets, likely due to this warm fall we’ve been having. Although they may not be the perky specimen that first appeared in August, they are absolutely perfect for soup. Then there’s the “Ugh, SOUP” issue wherein I have to admit that I find soup kind of dull. Sure, I’ve got a slew of soup recipes in the archives that I find interesting, but still, the vast majority of soups out there to be either too salty, too watery, cream bombs (I’d rather save my heavy cream to top pie, thank you very much) or to taste like limp, boiled vegetables. And finally, there’s the fact that this soup is excellent the way it is but with endless potential for tweaking, and who wants a slightly unfinished recipe? But then, thank goodness, I said this to myself: “Zzzzz!” and also “pbbbblt!” Because if I put myself to sleep with all of this hand-wringing, I can only imagine how few of you will make it past paragraph one.

ready to roast
roasted

So here’s how this soup began: My mother gushed a couple weeks ago about an eggplant soup from, of all places, a casino in Atlantic City. Eggplant soup! At a casino! Worth talking about! Who knew? And so I dug through my recipe bookmarks and found one from an old Bon Appetit that sounded just right, with a few steps that would save it from many of the aforementioned soup evils. By roasting the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic and onion first, you’d deepen their flavors before throwing them in a stock bath. And although the original recipe called for a whole cup of cream, the head notes suggest you can skip it entirely, although I had no desire to do a silly thing like that. In my experience, it only takes a modicum of cream to make a soup taste especially lush, and that cream can go a long way towards anchoring the flavors that otherwise get a little lost in the … slosh of it all. Too much cream, and the flavors are held at a distance while you drown in richness, and I’d much rather save that for Things That Involve Cheese Or Chocolate.

eggplants, tomatoes, onion and garlic

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

black bean soup + toasted cumin seed crema

black bean soup with toasted cumin cream

So, I told you about the brisket. Or, the way we talk about it, thhhuuuuh brisssssket, it’s deliciousness making our syllables stretch out melodramatically. We pulled it into tacos with slaw and pickled onions and it was a great end to a great year. But I bet I know what you’ve been wondering since then, “But no appetizer?” Well, let thie question vex your brain no longer: we had soup. (Jacob, however, got into the margaritas. Again.)

dried black beans
red onions

My friend Jocelyn made a wonderful black bean soup and she topped it with a toasted cumin seed crema and I just about died, the crema was so good. I mean, the soup was delicious but the crema was one of those toppings that was in lock-step with the soup: the richest, creamist, smokiest accent to a spicy, hearty soup. Since I’ve been slow cooker obsessed since that very day, I vowed to make a version entirely in my new BFF, and to top it with that toasted cumin seed cream. Frankly, the soup is just an excuse to get to it.

onions, beans, peppers and garlic

Continued after the jump »


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