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Shelter In Place Soups

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We've been on hiatus for a few weeks while news has been flooding in about the pandemic. We're glad to be back, and yes, Jerry and I are phoning it in from home. As we all work to get through this period of social isolation, we can still count on a few things to buck up our morale. And what could be more comforting than a big bowl of home made soup in the evening?

 

Because we are making fewer trips to the grocery store, we are spending more time eyeballing our refrigerators for the makings of a meal. The three soups we will tell you about today are all made with very easy to find ingredients, most of which you already will have at home.

Perhaps the most important part of any soup is the broth. If you can, make your own chicken broth from a left-over chicken carcass, or take advantage of the convenient instant broth products available. They most commonly come in chicken, beef, and vegetable flavors. Very handy to keep around.

 

Here are three soups that my girlfriend Vickie and I made over the last few weeks, and you'll notice there isn't a single exotic ingredient.

 

CABBAGE AND BACON SOUP

 

(The important thing here is to sauté the cabbage, onions and garlic in olive oil. As the cabbage cooks and caramelizes it becomes noticeably sweeter. Also the use of tomato paste to enrich the flavor is a solid move.)

 

Ingredients:

 

4 strips bacon

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 cups chopped cabbage

1/2 large onion, peeled and chopped coarsely

15 Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed and cut in half

2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced

1 tbs minced garlic

1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes

2 medium white potatoes, diced

2 tbs tomato paste

salt and pepper

1 tsp powdered cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

 

1.  Lay bacon strips onto a tinfoil lined baking pan and bake at 350° until crisp.

2.  Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Over high heat, sauté cabbage, onion, Brussels sprouts and celery until tender. Stir in the garlic, and continue to sauté until the cabbage starts to brown. Be careful not to scorch the garlic.

3.  Add the potatoes and tomatoes with their juice to the skillet and continue to cook. When the potatoes are tender reduce heat to a simmer. Add the seasonings and keep warm.

4.  Pour the chicken broth into a large, deep sauce pan, then add in the cabbage and vegetables. 

5.  Place the bacon strips on a paper towel and pat dry. Crumble the bacon into the soup and simmer everything for one hour.  Adjust the seasoning before serving.

 

 

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

 

(The key to this soup is to roast the veggies until they start to turn brown. This intensifies the flavor to a surprising degree. Also, this is a great time to use your submersible blender, one of the greatest kitchen inventions ever.)

 

Ingredients:

 

butternut squash cut into cubes

carrots

onion

olive oil

salt and pepper

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbs medium dry sherry

half and halfcream

1 hard boiled egg, finely chopped

4 pats unsalted butter

 

 

1.  Cut up the squash, carrots and onions. Spread in one layer onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil. Drizzle olive oil on the vegetables, and shake the pan to cover evenly. Season with salt and pepper.

2.  Place the pan in a pre-heated 350° oven, on a middle rack and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the squash starts to brown on the edges. Remove and set aside.

3.  Pour the broth into a large pot and add the roasted vegetables, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

4.  Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until it is smooth and all of the lumps have been eliminated. Taste for seasoning adjustments. Add the sherry, hard boiled egg, and butter and stir in well.

5.  Serve into individual bowls and garnish with parsley.

 

Vickie made this very tasting soup following a recipe she found on-line.

 

SIMPLE CELERY SOUP 

Inspired by Sylvia Fontaine

 

(The key here is to be careful adding milk, yogurt or sour cream to a hot soup. You need to add a little hot soup to the milk to slowly warm it up. Yogurt especially is prone to breaking down in heat, so start with it at room temperature, and then temper the yogurt with the hot soup bit by bit.)

 

Ingredients:

 

2 tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

4 tbs minced garlic

6 cups fresh celery, cut into thin pieces

1 celery head with leaves for garnish

2 cups white potatoes, in 1/2" cubes

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

 

Optional ingredients:

dill, parsley, sour cream, or heavy cream

 

1.  Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, stir and cook until they turn golden.

2.  Add the garlic, and stir briskly for about 30 seconds, taking care not to let the garlic scorch.  

3.  Add the celery and potatoes, then the broth, water, salt and pepper and spices.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the potatoes are tender.

4.  Remove from heat, and add whichever herbs you want. Stir in.

5.  Using an immersion blender, process the soup until it is well puréed and quite smooth. About 2 minutes. If you want to intensify the green color, add some spinach leaves and purée.

6.  Keep the soup warm over low heat. Add in any cream you want to use.

Serve into bowls and garnish with the celery leaves. 

 

And please remember, a lot of our farmers markets are staying open during the pandemic.  Our great Maryland farmers are bringing fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry and seafood to the market. So put on your facemask and gloves and grab your basket and buy some good local food. It will be good for you and good for our farmers.

 

 

 

 

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.