Move Over Mary Poppins!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blogging About Soup Is Like Dancing About Architecture

Imaginary Aunt Kate asks for my thoughts on soup. She apparently prefers Baked Potato soup without bacon, and dislikes Broccoli and Cheese soup.

Soup is a funny thing. It's one of the simplest foods to make. Put water and meat or vegetables or beans or noodles in a vessel and heat. What's hard about soup is making it really good.

The best soup I've ever tasted wasn't even one I'd ordered. Mark ordered it on our honeymoon. It was onion soup gratinee, and you could feel and taste the house made beef stock. It was luscious, and I don't especially like onion soup. We used to have a silly fantasy that someday, we could convince someone to smuggle a thermos home in their luggage, but the TSA does not love us. Bah! No liquids! And what lunatic would pack soup in their checked bags? Oh well...

So, there you go, start with a crafted stock.

There was once a Spanish garlic soup that I loved. I think I had it at Tapeo on Newbury Street, that had the silkiest texture and most delicate flavor.... If you're serious about texture in pureed soups, I think nothing beats hand sieving through a china cap, but let's be real people, a throrough immersion blending does the trick if your puree-ables are properly cooked.

I'm not a fan of baked potato soup, but I do like potato leek, if it's got the right texture. As to broccoli and cheese, I think a really fresh cream of broccoli soup, think rich chicken stock thickened with a light roux, heavy cream, and steamed broccoli florets, with a hit of red pepper flakes and romano cheese - not from a shelf stable can, people, from a grated hunk of Roman cheese - could be delightful.

But that's just me.

I make a crawfish "bisque" that Mark is partial to, but it's a process to get there, again, because of the stock. When we can get them, we buy shell-on cajun style frozen crawfish (There's one brand we like best, but the name escapes me. They come in a blue plastic box.), and snack on them. We save the shells, and I simmer them for half an hour with some garlic, onion, carrot, and celery, then strain off the broth. I use that as the base for the soup, with an organic mushroom soup base from Whole Foods - that actually tastes mushroomy - and frozen crawfish tailmeat. I finish it with herbs and a splash of sherry. Mmmm...

And then, there's 0 Point Soup.



Blogger Cara said...

Did you have the onion soup in Hawai'i or SF?

11/20/08, 3:18 PM  
Blogger CDG said...

The restaurant I praise like a broken record, Harris' Steakhouse on Van Ness and Pacific. And they have jazz in the lounge!

11/20/08, 4:49 PM  
Blogger brushfiremedia said...

No mention of barley or wild rice? My two favorite soup ingredients! We're coming up on my autumn standby: turkey soup (house-made stock of course: got to do something with that huge carcass!) carrots, celery, parsnips, leeks, fresh thyme and huge amounts of pan-toasted barley and wild rice.

More of a stew than a soup, I guess. You can usually stand a fork up in it.

Serve it up with some homemade, high-hydration level sourdough bread if you can.


11/21/08, 8:27 AM  

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