Category Archives: soup

MORE EQUATIONS

Scallops + coral + parsley oil + garlic // heaven

Farfalle + brown lentils + minced carrot, red onion, garlic, parsley, bell pepper + lemon + splash of pasta water // (Big) 20 minute lunch

Beef tenderloin + peppers + onions + avocado + refried beans + lime over all + crackling pita // 20 minute TV dinner (hockey of course)

Beef stock + tomato paste + lentils + chipotles in adobo + potatoes + zucchini + cilantro // A very spicy, smoky soup

Fregola + fresh favas + mint + anchovy + capers (they are the same size exactly as fregola! Such a satisfying mouthfeel) + hot peppers + crispy artichokes + scallions // Sticky, chewy pasta (the best ever)

Cubed potatoes + shallot + lard + rosemary + smoked paprika // A quick snack that turned into lunch. (I always fry parboiled potatoes in a cast-iron skillet; the  crust is unbeatable, and the bits of shallot get super-crispy and charred).

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SOUPE AUX POIS, MY WAY

I recently attempted to make a Quebec soupe aux pois, a hearty winter soup made with yellow peas and pork. I had a small bag of pork shoulder bones, leftover from a dinner party, that I was dying to use in a bean-based soup.

The yellow peas (soaked overnight) simmered in water with the pork bones until tender. I shredded the remaining pork into the broth, threw away the bones, and added carrots, celery, and onion, as well as plenty of hot pepper, cracked black pepper, a few bay leaves, chopped garlic, and some garam masala and tumeric (clearly this was not an authentic soupe aux pois). I pureed half the soup, and left the other soup intact, for a nice chunky texture. Huge bowls, sprinkled with cilantro and drizzled with olive oil, were the perfect accompaniment to my new favorite movie, Fletch. Now that is a very good movie!

FOUR SOUPS TO STAY WARM

1.

2.

3.

4.

Since I occasionally work from home, it can be super comforting to have a steaming pot of soup on the stove while writing all morning. It’s my midday reward — work until soup is finished. The first soup shown was also my favorite: a sort of bastardized minestrone, rich and savory from homemade chicken stock, and brightened with lemon juice and tomatoes.

I added a can of whole San Marzano tomatoes and two tablespoons of tomato paste to the (twice-strained for clarity) chicken broth. Then I added diced carrots, celery, red onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and a big cup of brown lentils, rinsed and picked over. I let that come to a low boil and skimmed off the foam. Then I added diced red potatoes and shredded leftover roast chicken, and let simmer for as long as I could wait, about two or three hours. At the very end, a big handful of farfalle and minced parsley were added to the pot. Deeply nourishing, healthy, and delicious.

The other soups were great, too; a thick black bean soup dressed with lime juice, sriracha, cilantro, and parsley; Very spicy tortilla soup, made with homemade chicken stock, tomatoes, black beans, sweet potatoes, dried chili peppers, and shredded cheddar cheese; Brown lentil, butternut squash, rosemary, and pulled pork soup. I love smooth, pureed soups, too (especially of the squash, carrot, or bisque variety), but mostly as a snack or part of a larger meal. When it comes to lunch, and soup is the only dish, I demand a lot of textural and flavor variety, otherwise it gets too monotonous for me. At midday, I make soups that land more in the ‘stew’ category; ‘chunky’ works, too.

KIND OF CONSOMME

Last week I battled a brutal cold and sore throat. For days, I could barely muster enough energy to make a piece of toast, or a mug of a tea. Because it seems like everyone else I know is getting sick, too, I’d like to say that I firmly believe that this chicken consomme is what cured me. Kat and Jennifer, this one is for you.

Around 9am, I woke up with a blinding headache and a near inability to swallow. My boyfriend convinced me that chicken noodle soup would bring me back to life, so I stumbled to the kitchen, threw the bones from a roast chicken that I had saved, and I added whatever I could find in the refrigerator (diced carrots, baby leeks, a bundle of parsley, a quartered onion, whole garlic gloves, a knob of ginger), and a few things from the pantry (a pinch of black peppercorns, dried thyme, dried chili pepper, and bay leaf). I added three liters of water, and brought to a boil. Though I didn’t have an appetite at the time, by the time the simmering broth was done four hours later, I was finally ready for some soup.

I strained the broth three times to get a golden, clear liquid (not exactly a consomme, I realize, but the closest approximation I will arrive at while severely sick), and returned the chicken stock to the pot. I added one can of black beans, a teaspoon of cumin, more chili flakes, and a handful of orecchiette. The best touches came at the end: a handful of diced scallions, cilantro, more chili pepper, and a squeeze of lime. The soup was very light, yet rich in flavor; the spicy heat cleared up my stuffy nose, and the black beans gave me enough energy for the rest of the afternoon. 

EVE OF HOT POT

Hot pot is a culinary Chinese tradition that can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways. In our family, we tend to keep things simple and spicy. Every year, instead of anticipating Christmas morning with an overstuffed turkey and the requisite side dishes, we usher in the holidays with a festive Christmas eve meal of hot pot.

Heaping platters of finely sliced raw meats — including lamb, chicken, beef, or pork — are placed alongside plates of raw seafood like shrimp or fish. The tissue-thin slivers of raw meat — the thinner the cut, the faster (and better) it cooks — are poached in a tiny mesh basket that is carefully lowered into a hot pot full of bubbling water.  A variety of other aromatics, including snow peas, rice noodles, sprouts, mushrooms, lettuce and spinach, also flavor the broth. Finally, the cooked meats and vegetables are doused in our homemade savory peanut-sesame dipping sauce, and carefully tucked into a pita-like toasted Chinese bread.

At our house, the piping-hot bites are punctuated with ceramic cups filled with dangerously potent Chinese sorghum whisky. At the close of the meal, the reduced hot pot broth is ladled out like soup and slurped down with plenty of hot sauce. I’d choose it over a plate of dried-out turkey any day.

QUICK QUICK QUICK

Seriously, how is it Friday already? And December? Barely any time for lunch, except putting together a bowl of soup. Not really soup, just homemade chicken broth brought to a simmer, chopped spinach, leftover roast chicken, squeezes of lime + a heaping spoonful of sriracha. Soothing + filling + spicy + about 30 seconds of focus time required.

TOMATO PURITY

With end of season Roma tomatoes patiently sitting on our counter, I knew I could only make one thing with the bushel’s hefty contents: simple tomato soup. This time around, my approach was unusually particular. Usually I freestyle a bit more — leave it chunky, add curry powder, stir in spinach at the end. But this was all about playing around with the smoothness of textures and the purity of the classic tomato soup flavor.

Even though I had nearly 100 tomatoes to work through, the process was relaxing and simple. Each tomato bottom was scored with an X and gently lowered into a pot of salted, boiling water. Groups of 12 tomatoes blanched for about 45 seconds, and then fished out to cool. Once they were ready to handle, I gently tugged the skins off the tomatoes, pulling outwards from the X. The tomatoes were cut into quarters, using my thumbs to scoop out the seeds, which went into a big bowl (along with the skins). It was messy but deeply satisfying work.

Once all tomatoes were blanched, peeled, seeded, and diced, I began to build the soup. I sauteed a classic mirepoix — a finely diced mix of onion, carrot, and celery — in a golden puddle of olive oil. Chopped garlic, red chili flakes, bay leaves, butter, and plenty of kosher salt were all added. Then went in the tomatoes, and stirred to combine. The leftover seeds, guts, and juices went through a colander directly over the pot, catching all of the delicious tomato juice as it strained through the solids. These tomatoes happened to be so juicy, that I barely added any stock or water to the pot — only about a few tablespoons of chicken broth! It was remarkable.

The entire mess stewed away for a few hours, and then I turned the heat off, removed the bay, and ran the soup in batches through my food processor. Although part of me loves the rustic presentation of a chunkier soup, I was glad I ran it through the blender. The soup had a creamy, velvety texture and tasted unabashedly, deeply of tomatoes. We had a few bowls for dinner, and I froze the rest. I’ve since used the tomato soup for baked onions, reduced into a simple pasta sauce, and combined with carrots to make another soup.