Posts tagged soup
Posts tagged soup
First, a request:
I would like magazines and cookbooks to stop telling me to “just ask the butcher”* if they have bones or offal or sundry excess animal parts lying around in back that they’d be happy to part with for free! or next to nothing!
I have asked. The butcher does not have extra ham bones sitting in back. Maybe your butcher in Park Slope does, and bully for you. I have also never met a butcher who has parted with anything for free. The whole idea feels vaguely un-American to me. And Christ, that animal died for you. If my time comes and I am slaughtered for food, and someone wanted some random section of my shin, I hope that my butcher would have the good sense to charge them for it. Have some respect.
What I’m saying is that the meat counter at Whole Foods was able to dig up a bag of ham hocks, but they did not have ham bones. And that’s how I ended up making Ham Hock Soup instead of Ham Bone Soup.
There are no pictures because there is nothing photogenic about ham hock soup. It’s a cabbage/vegetable soup with a big chunk of pig leg in the middle of the pot.
It’s very good, though, and I am quickly becoming a convert to the practice of seasoning dishes with a bit of vinegar.
BEFORE YOU COOK: The recipe is not hard, but it does take some time, in part because it’s made with dried beans and in part because it’s not made with stock, so you want to cook the ham bone long enough for all the boney goodness to leach out. Give yourself an extra hour or two to soak the beans (or soak them overnight) and count on an hour and a half or so of cooking. On the upside, the soup is even better the next day, and I imagine it would freeze really well.
Ham Hock Soup
(Recipe loosely based on Melissa Clark’s Ham Bone, Greens, and Bean Soup recipe from Cook This Now)
1. Either soak the beans in cold water overnight (I have never done this), OR bring the beans a plenty of cold water to boil. Boil for a minute, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the beans sit for at least an hour. Drain the beans and proceed.
2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the bacon fat in the pan. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes (this step took me longer). Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
3. Add the ham hock and bay leaf to the pot and add 8 cups of water and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt (I ended up needing to add a bit more water at the end). Bring the mixture to boil over high heat; add the beans, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cabbage and simmer for 45 minutes (if you have kale, stir it in after the cabbage has been cooking for 30 minutes and simmer for another 15 minutes).
4. Remove the ham hock, chop up the meaty bits, and stir them back into the soup. Season with pepper, a bit of the vinegar, and more salt (I thought the vinegar sounded weird, so I didn’t add it at first, and it felt like the soup was missing something. Then I added the vinegar and it was perfect. Don’t skip the vinegar!). Crumble the reserved bacon on top.
* “If you don’t see ham bones in your butcher’s case, just ask; they will most likely have them stashed in the back.”
** I almost never eat a whole package of bacon at once, so when I make something that involves bacon, I wrap the rest up in tin foil in sets of 3 - 4 strips and freeze it. I chop it up while it’s still frozen and it thaws as it cooks.
The tomato-fennel soup and the duck rillettes (also fantastic, and remarkably more photogenic)
God, I am still writing about soup. For the record, I’m kind of sick of it, too. Not eating the soup, soup is great, but writing about it.
In any case, I think every person who has ever been to Portland, ME or thought about going to Portland, ME is familiar with Duckfat. It is a smallish, casual restaurant that specializes in paninis, duckfat fries, and milkshakes. It is owned by Rob Evans, who was until very recently the chef-owner of Hugo’s. (Also, a cook at Duckfat, Melissa Corey just won on the cooking competition tv show Chopped.) Duckfat is an incredibly likeable place. People flock to it. And as much as it sort of pains me to have Portland visitors talk about a sandwich shop as the ne plus ultra of Portland dining, I also really like Duckfat.
On a summer Saturday, the doors and windows will be open and there will be crowds of people milling around on the sidewalk waiting for seats and waiters weaving through mass of humanity and it is lively and bustling. Personally, though, I like Duckfat more in the winter and on weeknights. At those times, it’s quiet and warm and low-key and, again, incredibly likeable. They do things that would feel contrived in other places: water in mason jars and your food served on cutting boards, and it doesn’t feel contrived at all. Or maybe it feels a tiny bit contrived but the general congeniality of the whole place washes away my cynicism about things like that. And of course, the food is very good.
The paninis and duckfat fries and shakes and salads are great. (My favorite panini is the duck confit and my favorite dipping sauce is the aioli and my favorite shake is all of them.) But you are missing out if you haven’t had their soups. They tend to have two on their regular menu (a tomato-fennel and a yellow beet and tangerine most recently), plus a soup special. I want you to think about how good a soup has to be to be as good as or better than a duck confit panini and duckfat fries with aioli. They are that good.
Unfortunately, I find it a little hard to write about what makes their soups so good. There is just nothing that tastes wrong. The ones I’ve had have all been pureed soups, so it’s not like I can get into a discussion of potato integrity or lentil texture. The flavors have been clear and simple and incredibly well-balanced. They are absolutely delicious.
I had a carrot soup from maybe two years ago that I still remember— it had a little bit of parsnip in it that added just the right amount of earthiness and depth. Then a few weeks ago I had a wonderful maple-roasted parsnip soup— maple-y but not too sweet and tasting like the best version of a parsnip. And their tomato fennel drizzled with basic oil is fantastic. It is the soup that makes me disappointed when I make tomato soups, because they are never as good.* The roasted fennel flavor is clear but not overpowering and matches the tomato perfectly. It is wonderful. You should order it.
And with that, let’s not talk about soup for a while.**
* Do not think that this means I will stop hassling you about making your own soups! You should! You can make very good soup at home.
** Do read the rest of the soup-o-rama restaurant reviews, though. Portland Food Map will have a round-up later today.
A Cook from Flagstaff, AZ on Epicurious, regarding this Rustic Spinach and Cornmeal Soup.
Yesterday I decided that I wanted to make an arugula soup. And then I decided it should have lemon, and then I ended up with the rustic spinach and cornmeal soup recipe. I read this review, and decided to ignore it, thinking that the soup would be fantastic anyway because every soup I have made ever has been the best ever!
I am sorry, A Cook from Flagstaff, AZ. You were right, and I didn’t heed your advice. It was a bit bland. The texture was slimy. I probably won’t make it again.
I don’t know how it happened exactly, but I think I’ve spent the past month writing to you about soups. And since I’m just now chewing again (hello, salmon!), it’s basically all I’ve been eating, too.
But soups are legitimately wonderful, and they are problem-solvers. Here! Another listicle!
1. They tend to be flexible, so you can use up ingredients that are about to overstay their welcome in your fridge.
2. A soup with stock, vegetables, and beans is a pretty well-rounded meal, all in one pot.
3. They make amazing leftovers. By and large, soups are better the next day once everything has marinated a bit. And I can’t even express to you how nice it is to open the fridge and see a good, healthy meal in there just waiting for you.
4. Generally speaking, they’re inexpensive. I’m not saying it’s impossible to spend a bunch of money on soup ingredients (anything is possible), but it’s harder. Stock, beans, vegetables, those are not expensive ingredients. Even if you add some meat or fish for flavor, you’re using much less per serving in a soup than you would if you grilled the fish, or made a roast.
5. Some soups freeze really well.
6. Who needed chewing anyway? NOT ME!
In a burst of energy and hubris, I decided yesterday afternoon that I was well enough to go off the painkillers and make some more soup. I have since decided that actually, the painkillers were sort of key to my positive recovery experience and that I am only really equipped to sit on the couch and watch TV at this point.
But I did make soup. I added mushrooms to this Martha Stewart Scallion-Ginger Broth recipe and it was really lovely.
I cut the mushrooms up into little pieces to minimize chewing, but you could leave them in slices. I also browned them a little bit before cooking anything else because I wasn’t sure how much water they’d give off and I didn’t want to drown the other aromatics, but I think you could probably cook them all at the same time if you used a large enough pan.
I used a homemade stock. If you don’t have homemade stock and live in Portland, you might try the chicken stock at Rosemont— they have a great butcher and the stock appears to be made in-house. It would warm my heart if you started making your own chicken stock, but if it’s not in the cards for you, that’s okay.
Mushroom, Ginger, and Scallion Broth
Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe
Heat a bit of vegetable oil over medium high heat. I cooked the mushrooms first, stirring until they were soft and beginning to turn brown, then scooped them out and cooked the scallions, ginger, and garlic together until softened. You could probably cook them all together.
Once the aromatics are softened a bit, add the fish sauce and broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes or so. It’ll smell very fish-saucy at first, give it some time to mellow. Add the mushrooms (you could add in other vegetables like thinly sliced carrots or spinach, or fish or chicken if you’re able to chew, in which case, bully for you). Stir and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes, or until the stuff you added in is cooked.
Slightly Heartier Version with Spinach and Egg
(This is for one large serving, if you want to make the whole batch into this heartier soup, you should use a bit more spinach and two eggs) To make the soup into more of a meal, bring a serving of the broth to a boil, then turn down the heat so the soup is simmering. Add a handful of chopped spinach leaves. Simmer for a minute or two til they’re cooked. Break an egg into the soup, wait a few beats and then stir (if you stir immediately, the egg just dissolves into the soup; if you wait too long, you get bigger chunks of egg). Serve immediately.
* DON’T SMELL IT FROM THE BOTTLE. It smells terrible, but it’s wonderful in recipes. If you don’t have fish sauce, you can use soy sauce.
I have eaten the broccoli soup for three different meals since I made it. Yes, I have been on hydrocodone*, but I stand by my assessment that it is very good. What have I been doing all my life not eating broccoli soup? It’s as good cold as it is hot! It’s easy to make!
Also, my left cheek is basically the size of all the rest of my face, and I keep icing it because that’s supposed to help with swelling and bruising but really it just means that my left cheek is both enormous and very cold.
* Except that I got cocky and decided that I was doing so well I didn’t even need the painkillers, and it turns out they are the key to 1. not being in pain and 2. enjoying Millionaire Matchmaker.
While I am out, let me implore to try making the Curried Red Lentil Soup. We’re gonna do this in a listicle!
1. Unlike many soups, it cooks very quickly.
2. Also unlike many soups,* it requires very few ingredients.
3. Like all good soups, it’s better the next day.
4. It is crazy filling.
5. It’s VEGAN. I KNOW. I’m kind of a jerk, and judgmental about vegan food, but I didn’t realize this was vegan, and I still loved it. And then I made it again!
* I love you, Other Soups!
I’m taking a detour from the on-ramp to middle age today: I’m getting my wisdom teeth out. Perhaps even at this moment! Or I am in jammies drooling on myself!
In preparation, I made a huge batch of chicken stock and a cream of broccoli soup, which was easier and better than I had any reason to hope. How easy? I made it after work, but before we ran a bunch of errands and then had dinner.
It’s a Mark Bittman recipe, and it is, in fact, very good. It’s also a formula that you can translate to other cream-of vegetable soups: 3 parts cooking liquid (chicken stock) to two parts vegetables (broccoli) to one part dairy (cream).
And then, even though the formula is brutally simple, I used more broccoli (a little tiny bit more than a pound) because I had it and I didn’t think extra broccoli was going to hurt anyone.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Combine 3 cups chicken stock and about a pound of broccoli, chopped (or two cups, whatever) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer, covered, until the broccoli is tender. In the last minute or so of cooking, add a clove of garlic (or a few cloves if your garlic cloves, like mine, were little), very roughly chopped.
Transfer everything to a blender and blend.
Stir in 1 cup cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
As it turns out, eating cookies was not on my list of things to do in 2012. Sadly.
If we recall, though, #7 was “cook and eat more meals that are based on beans and grains.”
In the words of Joy’s father, I am “entering middle age.”* Lentil soup is basically the ne plus ultra of white yuppie women entering middle age, along with doing yoga in the morning before work and wearing those Merrill slip on shoes and bringing your own bags to the grocery store. Lentils are inexpensive and good for you. They are Adult Responsibility in a pantry staple. From the latest Martha Stewart Living, “their high protein and fiber content steadies blood sugar, staving off hunger.” If that’s not an “entering middle age” food, I don’t know what is. There was a legume pun included as well.
Lentils, in other words, are about as sexy as the phrase “entering middle age.” All that said, the soup was really delicious— rich and creamy with a little bit of textural interest (I sometimes get bored eating pureed soups), and incredibly filling.
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, shallots, and carrots, and cook, stirring, until softened (about 7 minutes). Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
2. Add a little more than a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 4 cups water, and the lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils and carrots are tender, 8 - 10 minutes.
3. You’re going to want to blend most of the soup, except some lentils and carrots that you reserve and then add back in for texture and interest. Pour 2 cups soup through a fine sieve into a bowl (or the blender, or the saucepan), reserving the solids. Puree the strained liquid with the remaining soup in a blender until smooth. Reheat after blending. Stir in the reserved solids.
4. Reserving some for garnish, stir cherries and cilantro stems (if you’re using them) into the soup and ladle into bowls. Swirl in remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, and garnish with cherries and cilantro leaves.
* Boom. Happy thirtieth birthday to me.
I was sitting around on Friday, resigned to having a leftovers dinner, when all of a sudden I thought, Fuck this shit. I am making a vegetable soup using the ingredients we have at home.
I don’t know why I don’t do this more often. It was fantastic. In addition:
1. I used up the cabbage that has been threatening to go bad in the crisper.
2. I didn’t have to go shopping for ingredients.
3. We ate delicious soup all leftovers all weekend, which coincided perfectly with peak soup eating time (see chart below).
4. It allowed me to spend the weekend saying, Oh! This vegetable soup? There was no recipe, I just whipped it up.
Cook the bacon on medium heat in a large-ish dutch oven or soup pot.
Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes more. (If I had had carrots and celery, I might have added them here)
Add the tomatoes, scrape around the bottom of the pot to loosen the bacon/onion goodness (the fond).
Add the cabbage (you could use kale or chard or cauliflower instead), the water/stock, and the parmesan rind. I didn’t add a ton of water, maybe enough to cover the cabbage? It made a pretty thick stew. Let that simmer until the cabbage is tender.
Add the beans. If you don’t have cooked beans hanging out in your freezer, you could use a can of any white beans.