soup


Photography is not my strong suit, but this is probably one of the least useful pictures I’ve ever taken:

Is it custard? Butterscotch pudding? Salad dressing? Aioli? From the photo, heaven knows. Conveniently, though, this post has a title, so you can probably guess what it is.

It’s one of my very favorite soups, an odd concoction that supposedly hearkens back to the days when “gazpacho” was basically nothing but stale bread and olive oil rather than tomato-based liquidy salsa. This version, which I first fell in love with at Jaleo, is essentially just pulverized and strained almonds, bread, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar, grapes, and cucumber. It turns into a lovely, delicate, and refreshing soup—just right for the tail end of summer.

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For those of you keeping track: I will accept tomatoes when they are cooked or in juice form. And I’ve just learned, for the first time, that I can also tolerate them when they are raw but pulverized into gazpacho.

Orange soup!

For a long time, I thought gazpacho was really just watery salsa, and it never much appealed to me. But every now and then, I’d see someone order gazpacho and get a bowl of something altogether different—smooth, velvety, and bright orange, not a chunk of tomato in sight. Eventually, I learned that this is proper Andalusian gazpacho, made with bread and olive oil and then carefully strained. It’s a somewhat finicky process, but absolutely worth the effort.

Unrelated: Apparently there is a hot-dog stand in Chicago called Felony Franks (“home of the misdemeanor weiner [sic]”). I think I have no choice but to go there.

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Last night we sprang ahead; today it was warm and sunny. I can’t wait for spring, but there’s just one problem: it will be too warm for creamy, luxurious, and decidedly cold-weather soup.

Not, as a dinner guest guessed, butternut squash soup.

There’s a ticking clock, people. If you like cheese or beer—and I don’t think  I know anyone who doesn’t like one or the other—make this before it’s too late.

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I love lentil soup, but I find that it’s often unbearably wholesome and well, just kind of of meh. Whenever I come across a recipe that promises a new! and exciting! lentil soup, I make it with great hope—but am usually let down.  I think it just takes a substantial quantity of oomph to get lentil soup across the threshold from wan to fabulous.

 

new! (coconut red lentil soup)

These two recipes, however, both have the necessary oomph. Neither uses the conventional muddy brown lentils—instead, one uses a combination of red lentils and yellow split peas, and the other uses sturdier French green lentils. Each has some unusual ingredients—coconut milk in one, pureed chickpeas in the other. Plus, perhaps not coincidentally, each includes a healthy pat of butter. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s all lentil soup needed in the first place.

and exciting! (curried lentil soup)

As delicious as both of these soups are, I also recommend not being afraid to salt them–the right amount really makes them sing.

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With this soup, I once again fell victim to the First Day Soup Fallacy: eating soup right after it’s done, thinking “meh, it’s nothing special,” and reluctantly eating leftovers the next day—only to learn that the soup is actually amazing. This soup is spicy and filling and so delightful that—after I learned the error of my ways—I practically skipped home in the cold in anticipation of the cozy soup waiting for me.

Fallacy Soup

This soup looked gorgeous as written in The Kitchn, but I thought it could use some more greens and less beans (it called for a can of chickpeas and a can of Great Northern beans). And who am I kidding—greens, chickpeas, and chorizo are an unfailingly fabulous combination. The stew I just linked to is one of my favorite recipes, and this soup is basically that in soup form. How could I ever have doubted it?

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Periodically I start to wonder about the typology of various kinds of foods—what makes a curry a curry? A chili a chili? A chowder a chowder? (I do occasionally wonder about foods not starting with the letter C, but those are my standbys.)  For example, “curry” can’t be dependent on the presence of curry powder, which is a blend of spices rather than any single one, and it’s not the presence of curry leaves, which I’ve only ever seen in Sri Lankan curries. So I’ve decided that a “curry” is what English speakers call any stew with unfamiliar “ethnic” spices; otherwise it’s hard to figure out why we call both Thai dishes and Indian dishes “curries.” My Unified Theory of Curry fails to explain why we don’t call exotically” spiced Ethiopian stews “curry,” but I’m willing to accept that the theory is not perfect.

If you have an opinion about the Unified Theory of Curry, please let me know. Now I want to talk about chowder.

My life was lacking in chowder for a long time, as I’m not the biggest fan of clams—the most conventional use for a chowder. But then I was exposed to fish chowder and corn chowder, and now the world of chowders is a beautiful, beautiful thing to me. According to the internets, what makes a chowder a chowder, as opposed to just a soup, is that it’s thickened in some way. Potatoes often do the job, but it seems that cream can as well. This corn chowder gets the job done with cream and pureed corn. I’m confident the corn chowder would be perfect on its own, but after a weekend in Tybee I was hankering for some crab, so I did some lily-gilding. I’d recommend that you do the same.

I also recommend, though, that you take pictures of your delicious corn and crab chowder before you start drinking wine, or else this might happen:

Oops.

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It’s been hot. Really hot. Hot enough that any meal that doesn’t involve heat of any kind, be it stove, oven, or grill, is a winner in my book.

Here, all you have to do is dump the ingredients in a food processor:

and 30 seconds later:

dinner is served. If you want to get more elaborate about things, you can quickly saute some shrimp or scallops to add in, and then dinner might take five whole minutes. Be advised, though, that cooking the shrimp or scallops might involve minimal application of heat. (more…)

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