Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Soup of the Day

"No soup for you!" the Soup Nazi
 So, this started of as an offhand comment to Elissa Altman, a food writer at such places a Saveur, the HuffPost and her own blog Poor Man's Feast. Now I have never met her, though I hope to some day, but when she put a call out to find a way to comfort her partner Susan who was suffering from a cold I jumped in.  My suggestion was Tom Yum Goong, part of why I am married, and something I was planning to make that night (author's note - I wasn't able to do it until last night - wonderful with a nice Torrontes).

Elissa took the idea, and was even kind enough to acknowledge it, but then she got sick too and posted this piece on comfort soups.  I hope you are feeling better, Elissa, and that chicken soup recipe sounds remarkably like my own grandmother's, but this discussion made me think of a top five list of me favorite soups.  After all, the term restaurant comes from a soup that restores. Google the name Boulanger.

So, here they are:

5. Barley Broth (aka Scottish Broth). If you want a hearty soup for a cold winter night, this is a hearty choice. Lamb, peas, barley, cabbage, and root vegetables, thickened slightly by the barley. This is truly a restaurer. Eaten with a dense crusty loaf of say oat bread it's a complete meal.

4. Onion Soup Gratinee (aka French Onion Soup). This is a perfect example of simple peasant austarity. Broth from simmered meats, stale bread, cheese and onions stored for the winter.  Yum. Hints: saute the onions low and slow and let them caramelize naturally. Don't buy $19 a pound Gruyere no matter who tells you.  I love Gruyere, but it's lost here.  My favorite is Jarlsberg. This is one of the two soups on the list that suffer from bad restaurant versions.  Soup base and cheap cheese don't do it.

3. Hot and Sour Soup.  This is the second soup butchered too often by bad restaurants. It should be prepared gently, with the best ingredients.  When thus prepared it is an awesome experience. When not - it's liquid snot. When it's done right it's heaven.

2. Tom Yung Goong.  More heavenly than Hot and Sour, this is a soup that brought my wife and I together. It is a perfect balance of hot, sour salty and sweet with the punch of umami. Laced with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and mushrooms, Thai basil and mint, I don't care what seafood or protein is in there. I just want slurp the wonderful broth.  It should be number one on my list, but it cannot because:

1. Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls.  I am Jewish.  I have no choice.  But, I really love it.  I usually take care of the broth, and Trish takes care of the kneidlach using David Rosengarten's seltzer recipe.  But my Mom has taken to buying a chicken soup mix, and tossing out the soup part and just making the matzoh balls. They are not bad.

When I am sick the Jewish Penicillin always works - as do the others - what works for you?

Hope you are better Elissa!


Warner (aka ntsc) said...

My wife makes a series of gumbos, that will clear out blocked nasal passages, however when really feeling like sh-t or prepping for a colonoscopy I go for chicken broth.

Natalie Sztern said...

I second and third you probably on all of them: except for me it is Bean and Barley soup, not broth; the first soup I ever remember eating outside of the home was the Soupe a L'oignon gratinee up North of the Laurentian mountains every weekend we skiied at Au Petit Poucet in Val David. There is nothing like a true French Canadian onion soup and it is always gratinee; Tom Yum is my go-to soup at any Thai restaurant, I love Thai; hot and sour like you said has to be top end good because the taste between bad and good are complete ends of the spectrum with no in-betweens.

As for chicken soup...always hated it. It meant that we would be eating boiled chicken for dinner whenever my mother made chicken soup. As for matzoh balls; they constipate you and bloat. Plus there are so many ways to screw up a good chicken soup.

After all of this whenever I make soup it starts one way and then becomes stone soup; it can last weeks because I just keep adding and adding and adding whatever is soup starts and it never ends.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -