1. December 12th, 2010 - Avegolemono Soup
I don't know WHERE I went wrong with this soup. I wanted to make a lemon-chicken soup. This Greek soup seemed right up my alley: lemon juice, Chicken, Rice (I used Orzo instead, which some people recommened). After these three ingredients, the recipe took some bizarre turns. First, it urged me to make a roux in a pan, and then add it to the soup. I did this diligently. Why, I have no idea. It looked the same. I couldn't taste it (more on that later), and now I had another dish to clean. Next, I had to furiously whip 8 egg yolks (by hand mind you) and add these to the soup. I could definitely taste these, but not in a good way, just in a are-there-raw-eggs-in-this? way. I will concede that it would have been better if I had owned an immersion blender at this juncture, but alas, I would not be receiving this from my parents until Christmas. I could deal with unique cooking techniques, but where the recipe went wrong really chapped my hide. HALF A CUP OF LEMON JUICE IS A LOT. It doesn't sound like much, but the soup puckered my mouth like a warhead. It overwhelmed the soup, and gave everything an acidic edge that I had to will myself to swallow. AG loves lemon and she said it was too much, although she said it had "potential" if it weren't so potent. I have since learned that I may not have botched the recipe after all, and this is in fact how the Greeks like their soup. That may be true, but I shan't be making it again.
2. December 28th, 2010 - Puree of Split Pea Soup (from my new soup recipe book, thanks Mom!)
I know I bad-mouthed "blended" soups in my maiden soup post, but I got an immersion blender for Christmas and really needed to try it out. I wanted to make a white bean blended soup, but my recipe said that I needed to buy a bag of beans, soak them overnight, and then simmer them for hours the next day. Fat chance, I said. I don't like peas, but I thought maybe this recipe could change my mind, since I put bacon in it, and did it "by the book". What does by-the-book mean exactly? Sort of like this:
This is a ham hock. The hock is the area below the wrist or ankle bone of the big. It has a large amount of flavor and some yummy meat (so they say, I couldn't find anything palatable), and is essential if you want to make a good split pea soup. The recipe told me to toss this in while I was boiling the broth and veggies so I did. If you thought it looked terrifying before, wait until you see it after it did its "thing".
Terrifying. At this point, I decided to run over to Foodmaster and buy one of the thick ham slices and chop it up, because there was no way on Earth I was going to fish around in that pig foot and try and salvage pieces of meat. I prayed the soup tasted better than it looked. After making a Turkey stock that precipitated in a soup that I still dream about, I tried not to judge a soup by it's carcass, but being someone that doesn't like peas to begin with, I took this as a bad omen. On the bright side, the immersion blender worked swimmingly and quickly changed the soup into a smooth puree. So did the soup change my opinion about peas and blended soups as a whole? No. Nononono. It had the texture of watery baby food, and while the hock definitely added flavor, I had a hard time getting over the image of it bobbing around in my pot. The ham pieces saved the soup from being a complete loss, and having a crouton in each bite was the only way I could finish a whole bowl. AG said that "if you like split-pea soup, it was a good soup". So take that for what it's worth.
3. January 5th, 2011 - Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili
I do not know Cha-Cha, but I like her style. This was supposed to be a chili, but it became a soup. It was tasty, so that was fine by me. It was also quite spicy, which was also fine by me. It involved canned jalapenos, 2 cans of green chilis, cayenne pepper and pepper jack cheese. It was a very straightforward soup, no blending, no roux, no ingredients that gave me night terrors. It only took about 45 minutes. With a dollop of sour cream on top, it was really fantastic. The shredded chicken and white beans made it hearty and substantial, and the sour cream helped cut some of the spice and acid of the peppers. AG said it was "delicious" and not too "spicy". She ranked it with the Lentil Soup as her favorite, until I reminded her about the Turkey soup I made, and then she made it a three-way tie.
4. January 15th, 2011 - Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 slices preservative-free, all-natural bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 potato, peeled and chopped
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 15 oz. can of cooked chickpeas, preferably organic
- 1 28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup kale, chopped fine
- 1 9-ounce package of high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini
- Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling- optional
- Grated parmesan cheese for garnish- optional
This is my most recent soup, I just finished it for lunch today, and it was great, and almost vegetarian! I say almost because I cooked up some Pancetta (in place of bacon) in the pot before I added the veggies and broth. I was wary of the chickpeas, but they were soft and complimented the other elements of the soup quite well. I was also worried about the kale, because I wasn't sure how it would wilt (I usually saute it), but it fell in line and played along. The potatoes were cooked without being mushy, and the other vegetables maintained their consistency and flavor admirably. I left out the zucchini because all the ones at Foodmaster were wimpy and floppy, and I don't think it would have added much. The cheese tortellini was also a nice texture addition. The recipe suggested adding a spoonful of pesto on top, which I did, and it really opened up the flavors even more. I love soups that have a lot going on, but become greater than the sum of their parts, and this soup fit the bill.
So there you go ladies and germs. 4 soup, 4 weeks. I also made the lentil soup again, but I forgot the cumin and I already blogged about it, so cool it. I hope this inspires you to try some soups out yourself, there really are a lot of great ones out there, and there's not much better after shoveling out your car for the 14th time.