Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 9 -Stock and French Onion Soup

After a night of debauchery at Darien's high school reunion, you would think that the last thing I would want to do is make stock and a soup. Well what can I say other than that I am a trooper.

We stayed the night at Darien's long time high school friend Will and his wife Liz's place. They have an adorable five month old son. When Liz was changing him, I remarked that it looked like she was trying to put clothes on Jello. He was wiggling and jiggling all over the place. Darien kept throwing me glances and mouthing both silently and vocally "three more years". Our one bedroom apartment barely holds us and our dog, so he is safe for now.

After fueling up on sausage, eggs, potatoes, waffles and coffee, we drove the hour and half car ride home. I was thrilled to be eating something other than soup for breakfast. In my wine buzz last night, I slightly recall telling our friend Liz I would make her a breakfast sausage soup, and would name it after her. Let us hope I don't run out of soup ideas before that day comes.

On our way home, we stopped at our local "grocery store". Now that I am pissed at them, I am going to come right out and say their name: Gristedes. A.K.A Craptedes, Grosstedes, get my drift. Why am I so enraged? They did not have any celery! For crying out loud, this is not some exotic food item such as persimmon, mangosteen, or burgundy truffle that I am looking for, but a basic food staple.

So, I had to make my stock without celery. Life will go on. This is a stock I have made several times, using Gordon Ramsay's recipe.

Gordon Ramsay's Chicken Stock recipe

Chop one carrot, one onion, two stalks of celery, one leek and place in a pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and cook over medium heat until golden. Add a sprig of thyme, 1 bay leaf, 3 peeled garlic cloves, 2 tbsp of tomato paste, 2 tbsp of flour and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Add 2 1/4lb (1kg) raw chicken or turkey bones, cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil and skim. Simmer for 1 hour or more then pass through a chinois or cheesecloth. Adjust seasoning. Makes about 61/3 cups of stock or 1.5 liters.

In the afternoon, we had a few friends over to play a card game called Munchkin. I tried to make my French onion soup in between playing. After setting a measuring spoon on fire, dropping and breaking a ramekin filled with burning broth loaded with onions all over myself and the floor, and Darien burning himself on the molten Gruyere, we decided the soup was cursed. But, we all concurred that if it was a curse, it was a very delicious one. A curse that our spouses and pets would no doubt be the victims of, as there were 8 whole onions in the soup.

French Onion Soup Recipe
Source: Food Network, Paula Deen

8 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 cups beef stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1 loaf French bread
2 cups grated Gruyere


Saute onions and garlic in oil over low heat until tender and golden yellow. Sprinkle flour over onions, cook a few minutes more, browning the flour well. Add stock and wine and bring to a boil, add thyme and bay leaf. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes or so. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Meanwhile, slice French bread into 3/4-inch slices and butter both sides. Toast slices on griddle until golden brown. Ladle soup into an ovenproof bowl, add toasted bread and cover with cheese. Place ovenproof bowl on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees F or 5 minutes under a hot broiler.

Chef's Note: I just toasted bread in the toaster instead of using a griddle.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 8-Leftover mashed potato soup with roasted red pepper coulis

Well it is the day after our Thanksgiving supper, and our fridge is jam packed with leftovers. I am dreading the thought of adding yet another leftover to the fridge. My friend Charlene had mentioned something about her mother-in-law using mashed potatoes in a soup. Brilliant I thought, I will just make a potato soup.

This potato soup took me no time to whip up. Which was great because I have crap load of dishes to do up, and we are attending Darien's high school reunion tonight. I wanted to make the potato soup a little fancier, so I made a red pepper coulis to go on top.

Red pepper coulis is really easy to make, I found this recipe on the Food Network. All you need to do is roast two red peppers-my trick is place them on top of our gas burners, and rotate the pepper every few minutes to char the skin. However, if you have an electric stove you can roast the peppers in the oven, but it will take around 30-40 minutes. When the peppers are sufficiently roasted, rub off all the burnt parts and remove the seeds. In a blender or food processor, blend the peppers with 3/4 cup canola oil, 1/4 red wine vinegar and add a dash of salt and pepper.

Leftover Mashed potato soup with roasted red pepper coulis

by Krystal Ford

3 cups of Mashed potatoes
4 cups of chicken stock
1/2 onion chopped
Pepper to taste


Bring chicken stock to a boil and add chopped onions. Simmer until onions become soft. Add the mashed potatoes. I must emphasize right now that these must be homemade, none of that mashed potatoes from a box crap. I wont pretend to be a food purist, since I am currently using store bought stock, but please for love of food do not taint your soup with hydrolyzed potato pectin -or whatever it is they put in boxed mashed potatoes. Simmer soup for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and blend using the ever handy-hand blender.

Make red pepper coulis according to the above instructions, and place in a plastic squeeze bottle. If you do not have one (you really should) you can transform a plastic Ziplock bag into a pipping bags, by cutting one corner- make it a very small cut-and fill the bag with the red pepper coulis.

Using the plastic bottle/impromptu pipping bag, squiggle some lines, make smiley faces,or pretend your Picasso and make abstract incomprehensible art, on top of your potato soup

Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 7- Blueberry and Ice Cider soup

Canada - the land of ice and snow - probably does not come up on your radar when it comes to wine. But one thing we do do right is ice wine and ice cider. Although, I still argue that our small but budding wine industry in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec is quite acceptable.

Last year when I was in Quebec, I picked up some ice cider made by Domaine Pinnacle. I have been saving it for a special occasion, and Thanksgiving more than qualifies as a special occasion. What could be better than a whole day dedicated to the preparation and eating of food, shared with friends and family. In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving (or as we say in French: Jour d'action de grâce) on the second Monday of October. Unlike our American counterparts, we often celebrate with the "big meal" on any day during the holiday weekend, and not necessarily on Monday.

The whole point of the holiday is to give thanks to the close of the harvest season, and celebrate your blessings. Unfortunately, this is sometimes forgotten. Just like Christmas was once about celebrating Jesus Christ's birth, has now been transformed into a month-long shopping-palooza, so too, has thanksgiving become all about mass consumerism. My point? Already two people died today in New York from the infamous "Black Friday". Trampling each other for cheap t.v's they can't afford anyways. The only kind of mass consumption I want to take part of, is our awesome brined and moist turkey.

Darien and I shared our holiday feast with three of our friends. Our poor guests had to endure TWO of my soups-I still had leftover butternut squash soup-in order to get a slab of my husbands delicious turkey.

I served the blueberry ice cider soup for dessert. My feedback from the guests was that it could have been a little sweeter, and that it tasted a bit like yogurt. I think they are right on both accounts, but I think it is worthwhile tinkering with because it is such a pretty soup.

Blueberry Ice Cider Soup
source: Krystal Ford, adapted from a recipe seen on

1-1/2 cups of fresh blueberries (or frozen blueberries, thawed with juice)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus one table spoon of ice cider (or ice wine)
1-2 table spoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/3 cup of plain yogurt
1/3 cup of sour cream
mint sprigs, blueberries and sour cream for garnish

Place blueberries and water in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan over medium heat and add ice cider, sugar, lemon juice, ginger, and cinnamon. Stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low, cover an simmer blueberries about five minutes. Pour soup in a bowl and allow it to come to room temperature. Stir in one tablespoon of ice cider, yogurt and sour cream and whisk together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 6- Cream of Asparagus Soup

The alarm went off at 7 am this morning, and I awoke to the sound of Christmas jinggles. Half-asleep, I fiddled around looking for the snooze button. I was seriously having second thoughts about getting up. Screw the parade. But then I thought about the giant snoopy I would miss, and I dragged myself out of the nice warm bed.

Darien and I walked to 58th street and Broadway, to watch the Macy's Day Parade. It was 8 am and the parade was supposed to start at 9am. This is the conundrum of living in New York. Yes, there are so many cool things to see. But there is also a million plus people who also want to see them. Thus, whenever there is an event, you must line up a minimum of one hour before to ensure you get some sort of view. Last New Years we attempted (and failed miserably) to see the ball drop at 10pm, and we got as close as Columbus circle-30 blocks away- and saw absolutely nothing.

A couple of people from Canada were standing in front of us - I could tell by the Canadian paraphernalia- and I started talking to them. It turns out that they were from Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I lived for a few years as a teenager and where my parents still live now. It is always nice to meet people from back home.

We watched the marching bands, colorful floats, and big inflatable characters precariously handled by 20 people. At any moment, a strong gust of wind could slam the gigantic snoopy into a building. That same wind was causing me to shiver violently.

I am truly a pathetic Canadian. There I was dressed in winter boots, long coat, hat, gloves and scarf and I was cold. The temperature was around 40F or 6C, far from freezing. Then I started to get hungry. The dancing cupcakes were teasing me, and I thought to myself if I see dancing hot chocolate next, I'm done. We stayed until 10:30 am and that was as much as I could handle. At least I could check this off my New York to do list.

I grabbed a hot chocolate and some macaroons from Le Pain au Quotidien on our way home. We were both looking forward to having some soup to warm us up. Surprisingly, even though some days I have soup for lunch and supper, I am not sick of soup yet. I guess I could survive one of those liquid Hollywood Detox diets after all. Its always nice to discover new things about yourself!

Chef's disclaimer: I was missing onions so I replaced them with celery and onion, and I also did not weigh the asparagus, so I actually had a slightly more liquid soup then I would have liked. So know the weight of your ingredient and adjust the stock accordingly.

Cream of Asparagus Soup
Source: Remembrance of Things of Paris
Sixty years of writing from Gourmet.

2 lb green asparagus, trimmed
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 to 6 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup of crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste


Cut tips from 12 asparagus 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of broth and simmer covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. While soup simmers, cook reserved aspargus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. Puree soup in batches in a blender until smooth, with immersion blender. Stir in crème fraîche or heavy cream and add remaining stock until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and whisk in remaining butter. Add lemon juice and garnsih with asparagus tip.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 5: Chocolate, Chili, Butternut Squash soup

A couple of years ago, I took a butternut squash recipe I found on Recipe Zaar and added and subtracted some ingredients until I got this absolutely delicious soup. I think what really makes this soup tasty is the chili peppers and dark chocolate, which enhances the sweetness of the butternut squash and gives a little spicy kick. My husband is absolutely hooked on this soup. As soon as butternut squash arrives on the shelves or at the market in the fall, we immediately think of the soup, and greet it with the same enthusiasm one showers upon a long lost friend.

Now, I will forewarn you that the color is not exactly eye catching. It's pretty much a light brown due to the dark chocolate. But trust me when I say one spoonful will be enough for you to forget about the appearance, and focus on the beauty on the "inside". The smell alone emitting from the oven as the squash roasts in maple syrup, chocolate, garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon is enough to get you salivating. You could always gussy it up with a dollop of creme fraiche, or sour cream if your grocery store sucks as much as mine does.

A little back ground information about butternut squash, it is part of the winter squash family. Squash is typically divided in three categories: summer squash, autumn squash and winter squash. Depending if the fruit is harvested immature (summer squash) or mature (winter squash). An example of summer squash is zucchini with its soft skin, it can be eaten without cooking. Winter squash is harvested at the end of the summer, and it has a hard skin and generally require a longer cooking time than summer squash.

This is way you must roast the bejesus out of it. When it is undercooked it is almost impossible to remove the innards from the squash. I recommend that you test the squash with a fork in the thickest part to make sure it is done, or you will struggle, and possibly send chunks of bright orange matter all over the kitchen.

Enjoy !

Chocolate, chili, butternut squash soup
by Krystal Ford

1 butternut squash
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 red chili pepper (fresh)
2 squares of dark chocolate (70% or higher)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions (mild ones)
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup of cream ( I used 15% fat)


1. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds
2. Cover squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
liberally, and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon over squash. Add maple
syrup, garlic cloves (smashed), chocolate squares, and half chili
pepper in each cavity. Place in 350 oven and bake for about 50-60
minutes until squash is cooked. Spoon out the cooked squash and its
extras and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute onions until soft.
4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for several
minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let
the flavors meld (aprox 10 minutes)
5. Puree the soup in the blender (or with a stick blender) until smooth.
6. Return soup to pan and reheat gently and add the cream.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 4- Tomato, Rotini and Veggie soup.

I started my morning off with a trip to the local grocery store. Time was ticking away and I still had not purchased a turkey for Thanksgiving. I found a 13lb frozen turkey and loaded it into my grocery basket, along with a few other ingredients that I needed for stuffing and my soup of the day.

The walk home made me very "un-thankful". It is hard to be thankful when you have to walk 3/4 of a mile carrying 13 pounds of frozen turkey flesh (which really felt like 20lbs), three bags of groceries, and oh yeah, I had my dog with me too. Huffing, puffing and cursing under my breath. I knew I was in for trouble when my dog spotted two other dogs she wanted to play with. I yelled "Musha, can't you see I have a god damn 20lb turkey in my hand?" Clearly she did not, nor did she care. But she must have sensed the simmering rage, because she eventually stopped pulling on the leash and walked beside me again.

Before I started working on my soup, I decided to make a batch of savory biscotti. The other day I came across a recipe for Parmesan and Black Pepper Biscotti on a blog called Food and Whine, when I was searching for soup. Apparently, we also share the same love for soup, as she had recently done 7 days of soup in September.

I decided that I would just wing it for my tomato soup, instead of using a recipe. I was excited to be using a different base besides my ever reliable chicken stock. This time I used beef stock, tomato and wine. I was very satisfied with the way it turned out, and I loved the pairing with the biscotti.

Tomato, Rotini, and Veggie soup

by Krystal Ford

4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup of white wine
1 turnip cubed
1 medium carrot cubed
1 medium onion diced
2 celery stalks diced
1/2 yellow pepper diced
1 tsp of Herbes de Province (or you can use Italian Spice Mix)
2tsp of garlic powder
1 can of diced tomatoes (14 1/2oz)
1 can of crushed tomatoes (12oz)
2 cups of cooked pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
small sprig of rosemary for garnish (optional)


Bring beef broth to a boil and add wine. Add turnip and carrots and boil for 5-7 minutes. Mean while, boil pasta in a separate pot until al dente. Rinse with water and put aside. Add onions, celery, peppers, garlic powder and Herbes de Province to broth. Simmer until vegetables start to soften. Add both cans of tomatoes, and adjust the seasoning. When vegetables are cooked to your liking, add the pasta to soup and continue cooking for a couple more minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 3- Dahl Soup

I love to eat and prepare Indian food. I can prepare some pretty good channa masala, bhindi masala, aloo ghobi and chicken curry. In fact, at one point, one of my husbands co-workers (who was from Goa, India) noticed all the Indian food he would bring for lunch. She mentioned it to her husband, who in return asked if he was married to an Indian woman. No, I am not. I am a French Canadian, with a great palate. My parents introduced me to spicy food as a child, and I am very thankful for that. Tolerating a bit of heat really opens up a whole world of food possibilities.

When it comes to Indian food, you may immediately think of the standard bright yellow powder you get at the grocery store. Most curry blends include coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fenugreek. However, the blend of spices can depend on the recipe, and include many other spices such as clove,cardamon, mace, nutmeg etc. Which is why it is much easier just to buy one powder instead of 9 individual.

Dahl soup is made with lentils, stock, some vegetables, turmeric, and curry powder. I used carrots instead of eggplant in the recipe below, and you could easily add some diced peppers to add more texture and flavor.

I made the soup in the morning, thinking that I would be home late after meeting with a friend, and doing some Yoga. But I decided to skip yoga in the end. As it turns out, making the soup earlier turned out to be a smart move, since Darien brought a colleague home from work. I have been steadily feeding people my soup for the past three days. My friends and neighbors came for the crab and corn chowder on Sunday. Today I gave my leftover fennel and apple soup to my friend (who is sadly moving to Toronto on Thursday),and I have convinced two more friends to stop by for soup tomorrow.

Since I make a new soup everyday,I am in need of many mouths. I am seriously considering giving soup as Christmas gifts this year- but not as stocking stuffers, that could get messy. What else can I do? I can't eat soup for lunch and supper, that's taking my commitment to a whole other level. Otherwise my "future book" will end up in the diet section next to the likes of Susan Sommers, instead of the gourmet section, next to the cooking god Gordon Ramsay.

Dahl Soup

Source: Recipe Zaar, originaly found in 1984 Bon Appetit

6 1/2 ounces of yellow lentils, rinsed
6 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1/2 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 ounces of eggplants, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch of salt
1 1/2-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 fresh red chile, seeded and sliced
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 sprig fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine lentils, stock tomato, eggplant, tumeric, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, chili and curry powder and cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add lentils mixture to onions;sprinkle with cilantro. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and serve.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 2- Apple and Fennel soup

My second soup uses delicious local apples obtained from the farmers market. This is a soup I came up with a few years ago, when I was living in Canada. I was reading Alton Brown's cook book I'm Just Here for More Food, and came across a recipe for a fennel and apple pie. I thought that the combination of apple and fennel might also make a good soup. It turns out that it does. The flavor is savory with a hint of sweetness, and it's a great fall soup. The soup pairs wonderfully with home made bread, and if you happen to be as lucky as I am, your husband will be the one bakes it for you. There are perks to having a partner as enthusiastic and fanatical about food.

Apple and Fennel Soup

source: Krystal Ford

3 apples peeled, and cubed (I used a mix of granny smith and honey crisp)
1 fennel chopped
1 onion chopped
4 Cups of chicken stock
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme finely chopped
1 table spoon butter
1 table spoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs sugar (optional)


Fry the apple cubes in 1 tablespoon of butter and sugar if desired, for five minutes until a bit soft and put aside. In a large pot fry the onions in olive oil until translucent and then add the chopped fennel and salt and pepper. Cook fennel and onion for two minutes and then add the chicken stock. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer until the fennel is tender. Add the apple cubes (reserving a 1/4 cup for later) and thyme. Simmer a couple more minutes. Take off the heat and use stick blender to blend the soup until smooth. When serving place a few reserved apple cubes in the bottom of the bowl and pour soup on top. Garnish with a bit of chopped thyme.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 1- Corn and Crab Chowder

Well day one has arrived, and no red eye flight or sleep deprivation was going to get in the way of my soup endeavor. I decided that my first soup would honor San Francisco. When it comes to soup and San Francisco, the first thing that may come to mind is clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. But since I do not like clams, I decided that some crab chowder would make a more than sufficient substitute.

If you thought Ghirardelli was synonymous with San Francisco, you definitely need to take a walk down to Fisherman's Warf. Dungeness crabs are every where and can be found in anything. You can find whole crabs in little outdoor food stands, fancy restaurants, and everything in between. You can also find non-traditional uses for crab such as crab enchiladas, crab fried ravioli, and crabs in thick-tomato Italian stews called cioppini.

I had briefly entertained the idea of bringing back Dungeness crab with me to New York. However, I quickly dismissed it as impractical. For starters, I was taking a 6 hour flight and a dead crab may start to give off a little funk in the cabin, but a live crab may be considered as a weapon by the TSA, or EXTRA SPECIAL luggage by American Airlines, which undoubtedly leads to more baggage fees. So, no crab. But, as luck would have it, the sourdough bread made by Boudin that I wanted was available in the airport at 10pm at night. I now have new found respect for Californians. Who else besides the French would sell bread at 10pm (or any time at all even) in the airport.

My flight landed at 7am this morning, and I took a brief nap when I got home. After being fed a hearty breakfast of pancakes and bacon by my hubby, we ventured out into the cold to procure my ingredients.

Every Saturday there is a farmers market on Roosevelt Island, and we relish the opportunity to get some fresh fruits and vegetables. There is only one grocery store on the island and it barely qualifies as acceptable. We avoid getting anything 'fresh' from them, because even the dry goods are often expired. Plus, it smells really bad (a cross between mold, dead rat and sour milk) between the cereal isle and dairy section.

So, we picked up a few things like onions, potatoes, apples, turnip, avocados and some salmon. To get some fresh crab we needed to head into the "big city" a.k.a Manhattan. We picked up some King crab legs for $15.99 a pound, so there was a lot of pressure to make this soup actually taste good. I am not much of a seafood aficionado, so preparing crab soup was actually new territory for me.

While I prepared the soup, Darien helped by cutting open the King Crab legs with our shun kitchen scissors. I put our sourdough bread into the oven to get it nice and toasty for our bread bowls. Which we then cut off the tops and scooped out the inside of the bread.

Overall we both liked the soups texture and flavor. My one recommendation is to get the Old Bay Seasoning Mix and not try to make it from scratch like I did. The seasoning mix (used frequently to season seafood) has 13 different spices, and it turns out that I was missing three of them, so I had to improvise. I personally felt I had put too much cardamon in the spice mix, and felt that influenced the soup too much, but I would definitely make it again.

Corn and Crab Chowder Soup
Source:Rachael Ray, Food Network

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan in a slow stream
2 tablespoons butter
2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning blend, found near seafood department or, on spice aisle in your market
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 quart whole milk
3 cups corn kernels, scraped fresh from the cob or, frozen kernels
8 ounces cooked lump crab meat, fresh is available in plastic tubs at many fish counters
4 small bread boules, 6 inches, hollowed out, preferably sour dough, optional


Heat a deep pot over moderate heat. Add oil and butter. As you chop your veggies, add them to the pot: potatoes, celery, onion, and red bell pepper. Add bay leaf to the pot. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Saute veggies 5 minutes, then sprinkle in flour. Cook flour 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and combine. Stir in milk and combine. Bring soup up to a bubble. Add corn and crab meat and simmer soup 5 minutes. Adjust the soup seasonings. Remove bay leaf. Ladle soup into bread bowls or soup bowls and top with oyster crackers, hot sauce and sliced scallions.

Soup can be sexy

I just finished up my last audit for the month in San Francisco and after being fed cold spaghetti and meat sauce one day and rice and cold quiche the next, I was in the mood for good food. I made reservations at Masa's, a really nice French restaurant. They offer 6 course tasting and 9 course tasting meals. That night they were offering a special menu. Every course had shavings of white truffle, very rare and hard to get, and only in season for a short period of time. I was tempted since I love truffles (both the mushroom and chocolate) but at a price of $250, I couldn't justify it.

I went with the vegetarian 6 course menu and was not disappointed. Not only did I get two soups, I also had plenty of black truffles. My amuse bouche was a light and frothy lobster soup paired with a little gruyere puff. Then, I had a delicious layering of yukon gold potatoes with burgundy truffles, surrounded by a the smoothest, potato leek soup, topped with some creme fraiche. The pairing was brilliant. The earthiness of truffles combined with smooth and starchy potato was subtle, but oh so flavorful.

After the waiter pried the soup bowl from my hands, I thought to myself with a few key additional ingredients you can really transform a simple potato soup, into something rich and sexy. It can reach down into the depths of your belly and ignite a primal hunger, that takes all your will power not to lick the very expensive china bowl. A great soup can do that to you. And it may be the five days away from my husband, or the fact I am writing at 3am talking, but I dare even compare a great soup to sex on a spoon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why Soup?

Perhaps I have not adequately addressed this question. Why soup? Well the humble soup is so versatile that's why. What other food item can be eaten as an appetizer, entree, in between meals and dessert? I can't think of any. Off the top of my head, I can list ten reasons why soup is awesome and we need to pay homage to it.

1) What else are you going to do with left over bones/carcasses, giblets, necks, feet, shells etc.
2) Keeps you warm and toasty in the winter, and refreshes you in the summer.
3) Can help maintain body weight (as long as you avoid the creme of (insert soup name) or veloutés if eaten as main meal or before the meal (so you fill up on low cal stuff first)
4) A way to get those finicky carnivores to obtain some vegetable matter
5) A way to get those finicky vegetarians to consume some sort of protein, in the form of legumes
6) Can be whipped up in as little as 20 minutes, tastes great when re-heated, and can be frozen
7) A great way to use left over hodge podge of ingredients in the fridge and cupboard.
8) Pairs great with hot crusty bread, or yummy toasted bagel and cream cheese
9) An excuse to use those kitchen tools you just had to have, a.k.a crock pot, blender, food processor
10) You feel less guilty eating the cheesecake for dessert. After all, it's only soup right?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Challenge

I love to cook. But I don’t want to be a chef. In many ways I have the same temperament as chef; passionate about food, creative, short-tempered, and I can throw down F-bombs so effortlessly, I make Gordon Ramsay blush. But the idea of standing for 12 hours next to an inferno, screaming at employees, would bring me one heart beat closer to a heart attack, and leave my legs looking like someone drew squiggly lines with a blue and purple marker –the family curse of lazy venous valves- led me to conclude that this was not a job for me.

Instead, I became a food inspector for the airline companies. Unfortunately, I could not escape those damn varicose veins, but at least I get to tell other people what they are doing wrong, and I still get to eat great food! Up until now, my cooking (and rantings in the kitchen) have been reserved mostly for my husband and I.

My inspiration to start the 30 days of Soup challenge came from reading a book called Julie and Julia, and a bowl of mushroom soup. The author, Julie Powell, prepared all the recipes in Julia Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in one year in a tiny apartment in New York City. I was impressed by her crazy and fun challenge, and deep in recess of my mind, a seed had been planted. The idea took root on a business trip in Tokyo. I was enjoying a bowl of deliciously woody mushroom soup covered with a nice crispy puff pastry, and I was thinking how much I love soup, and that I could probably eat a different soup every night, and not be bored. Then, it hit me (soup is quite the catalyst apparently) I would challenge myself to make a different soup every night for 30 days, and write about it!

The fun part was thinking of all the soups I wanted to prepare, of course with my husbands one prerequisite that they must taste good. When I started writing my list, I didn’t really have a theme in mind, but I knew I wasn’t going to prepare just the boring traditional soups like chicken noodle, or if I did, they would have my spin on them. I also want to incorporate some exotic soups from my travels, and maybe even make up some soups as well.

My challenge is going to start Nov 22, 2008 which is perfect timing really, since it is right around turkey time (American Thanksgiving), and that means awesome home made stock. So stay tuned for more chronicles on my soup making.