Habeas Brulee » Soups and Stews http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 Rutabaga, Celery, Dill, & Smoked Chicken Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/03/16/rutabaga-celery-dill-smoked-chicken-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/03/16/rutabaga-celery-dill-smoked-chicken-soup/#comments Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=817

Spring may be on its way, but it’s not here yet. It was snowing in Brooklyn today! Plenty of time left to hunker down with winter vegetable based soups while shivering our way through March.

(I’m on this big kick now where I make a pot of soup every weekend to eat for breakfast for the next week, because I don’t like oatmeal and bourbon and cornflakes (à la Humphrey Slocum) is not an always food.)

Also, rutabagas are delicious. Did you know that? They are rich and buttery and sweet and amazing. And beautiful here with crunchy salty smoky things mixed in.

Rutabaga, Celery, Dill, & Smoked Chicken Soup
(fairly dramatically adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen)
1 3/4 lbs rutabagas (1 truly enormous one, or 2 merely large ones)
2-3 tbsp duck fat or lard or butter (I used half duck fat, half butter)
1 big pinch dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 medium leeks (sliced, white and pale green parts only)
4-6 C chicken stock
1 smoked chicken breast (honestly, a plain one is probably fine) (shredded)
1-2 big handfuls finely chopped fresh dill
1 bunch celery (the more leaves, the better)
1 child-sized handful salted capers (rinsed and coarsely chopped)
ground green peppercorns to taste (honestly, black pepper is probably fine) (lots!)
salt to taste

1. Peel the rutabagas (removing a thick peel, until you hit the nicely golden actual innards) and chop into 1/2″ cubes.

2. Slice the celery ribs into slices about 1/8″ thick and set aside. Chop up the celery leaves and set aside separately.

3. Melt the butter/lard/duck fat/whatevs in a large soup pot with the thyme and bay leaf, stir in the leeks, and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.

4. Stir in the chopped rutabaga and 1 tsp salt and cook partially covered for about 5 minutes.

5. Add the stock and bring to a boil. (How much stock? Well, do you prefer your soups to lean towards thick and chunky or towards brothy? You can always stir in more stock later, so I tend to err on the low side to start.)

6. Reduce to a simmer, add the dill, and cook until the rutagas are approaching tender but not quite there yet (about 15 minutes).

7. Partially puree the soup (I like to use my immersion blender).

8. Stir in the sliced celery ribs, shredded chicken, and capers. Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

9. Stir in the chopped celery leaves and season with salt and ground pepper (I use green, but black is surely fine) to taste. Lots of pepper! And really do taste it as you season it – remember that even though you rinsed them, the capers did add some salt already.

10. Eat for breakfast every morning for the next week, happily. A bit of paprika sizzled on top might be nice, but I never got around to trying because I was plenty happy as is.

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East African Sweet Pea Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/12/26/east-african-sweet-pea-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/12/26/east-african-sweet-pea-soup/#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2011 04:00:14 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=616
East African Sweet Pea Soup
(adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant by the Moosewood Collective)

Hurry, hurry, you have to make this soup! I took a Hipstamatic photo just so I could post it for you all the sooner!

I adapted this from one of the fantastic Moosewood cookbooks, with just a few adjustments. I like to have extra meatiness and protein in my soups, so I use pork stock instead of water. Less liquid, too – I like my soups thick and hearty, not too watery – more like stews than soups, perhaps. I’m also opposed to puree soups, so I did a minimal immersion blender partial puree of this one before adding the peas, to retain some texture.

It’s absolutely delicious, and I think I’m about to go back for a third bowl…

2 C coarsely chopped onion (about 3 medium onions)
safflower or other neutral oil for frying
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tomatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 sweet potato (approximately 2 C diced), diced into 1/2″ cubes
2 C pork stock
1/2 C water
1 lb frozen green peas

1. Saute the onions in a splash of oil over medium heat in a medium pot, until they just turn translucent.

2. Stir in the spices, salt, ginger, and garlic and saute for another minute or two, until very fragrant.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes and sweet potato until coated with spices, then immediately stir in the pork stock and water to dissolve the spices and deglaze the pot.

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sweet potato chunks are tender (about 20 minutes).

5. Partially puree. I like lots of chunks, so I just use an immersion blender to puree just enough to thicken the soup some.

6. Stir in the frozen peas and simmer just until everything is nice and hot again.

7. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

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Jerk Chicken and Jerk Corn Chowder http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/10/28/jerk-chicken-and-jerk-corn-chowder/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/10/28/jerk-chicken-and-jerk-corn-chowder/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2008 15:23:02 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/10/28/jerk-chicken-and-jerk-corn-chowder/

I’m feeling very justified in my lifelong Depression-era housewife mentality lately, I must say. Times are rough for everyone, and it feels like they’re just getting worse. Good thing I’ve been doing home canning and jam-making for years, not to mention saving bacon grease in a can in my freezer and freezing chicken carcasses every time we roast a chicken to turn into stock. I do it partially because it’s fun, and partially because I feel guilty for being wasteful otherwise.

This set of recipes and photos is actually from late summer. We had a large crowd come over for dinner one night, and we bought about twice as much chicken as we needed to feed them all. It was a simple matter to put together this fantastic jerk seasoning sauce and braise the chicken in it to feed the crowd, and everyone loved it.

When our guests left, we looked at the leftover jerk chicken and decided to break it down into useful components immediately. We put on gloves and shredded the meat off the bone, freezing it in single-serving ziplock bags for later packed lunches. We put the skin and bones in the freezer, and the next day we simmered them down to create a pot of fragrant jerk chicken stock, which we strained and froze as well.

Once amazing fresh local corn started coming in at the greenmarkets, we mostly got into the habit of grilling it or putting it under the broiler until the husk blackened, and then eating it plain. Sometimes I add a bit of lime juice, salt, and chipotle to perk it up, but only with less spectacular corn, really. The good stuff would be wasted with that sort of dilution of flavor, at least for the first few weeks it’s available each summer.

Point being, once I sated my corn urges to the point where I was willing to eat it gussied up, we started thinking about chowder, and remembered the jerk chicken stock waiting in our freezer. A perfect solution! And so jerk corn chowder was born, to my great delight.

Both of these meals were wonderfully tasty, comfort food, and very much dishes I intend to make again.

2007: Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
2006: Dave’s Autumn Rice

Jerk Chicken
2 chickens (3-4 lbs. each), cut into quarters
1 C jerk mix (recipe below)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Slather the jerk mix all over the chicken and put it into a baking dish. Cover the baking dish with tinfoil and crimp around the edges to seal tightly.

Leave in the oven for about an hour or two, or until tender and delicious.

Save the bones/skin/&c for stock when serving the meat.

Jerk Mix
(adapted from The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson)
2 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
4 scallions, green parts only, sliced into thin rounds
1/3 C freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 C red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a pan until it shimmers. Add the garlic and saute until it just starts to get golden.

Stir in the allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to clump together.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Transfer it to a blender with all the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

(Makes about 1 C.)

Jerk Corn Chowder
(adapted from 50 Chowders by Jasper White)
4 oz. bacon, cut into 1/3″ dice
2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 C jerk chicken stock (recipe below) (or 4 C stock and 2 C heavy cream)
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 3/4″ dice
3 C fresh corn kernels (from approximately 3 large ears of fresh corn)
2 lbs potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
Salt, cayenne, and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the bacon pieces in your chowder pot and render them over medium-low heat, until they have released their liquid fat and begun to crisp. You want to keep the heat fairly low to keep from burning the fat.

Pour off all but 1 tbsp fat (retain the bacon!). (Save your poured off bacon grease in a can in the freezer. It is really nice to have around.)

Add the butter and onions. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and only just barely starting to get lightly golden.

Add the potatoes, corn, and 4 C jerk chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until the potatoes are soft on the outside but still somewhat firm on the inside. Smash a bunch of the potatoes (smashing all of them is nice, even) against the side of the pot to thicken the chowder.

Remove the pot from the heat.

Stir in the extra 2 C jerk chicken stock (or heavy cream, if you prefer). Season to taste with salt, cayenne, and freshly ground pepper.

If you have the time, let the chowder cool to room temperature and then reheat it gently before eating, in order to give the flavors a chance to meld together more fully.

Jerk Chicken Stock

Put those jerk chicken remnants in a pot. Cover with water. Simmer until delicious, about 4-7 hours. Don’t let it come to a boil! When it’s tasty, strain and boil down to intensify the flavor if necessary. Leave in the fridge overnight to let the fat solidify, and defat in the morning. You can freeze it until needed.

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Ramp Udon Soup with Bacon Consommé and Asparagus Tempura http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/05/17/ramp-udon-soup-with-bacon-consomme-and-asparagus-tempura/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/05/17/ramp-udon-soup-with-bacon-consomme-and-asparagus-tempura/#comments Sun, 18 May 2008 02:24:06 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/05/17/ramp-udon-soup-with-bacon-consomme-and-asparagus-tempura/

Everyone knows that ramps and bacon go well together. Everyone who knows about ramps, that is – and if you don’t, get down to the Union Square greenmarket or the Park Slope Food Co-op (if you live in NYC) or wherever your local source may be sometime in the next week or so before they disappear for the year!

Ramps are wild leeks, the incredibly pungent and delicious greens that appear for just a few weeks each spring. Even Wildman Steve Brill says that ramps are “simply the best-tasting member of the entire onion family, wild or commercial.” If he could take me on a foraging hike for them, I’d adore him even more than I already do.

The only cost (besides $3/bunch (at the greenmarket, at least)) is the stench aroma. People who live near the mountains, where ramps are ubiquitous enough for there to be whole festivals dedicated to them, always seem surprised that us city dwellers see these stinky weeds as a gourmet delicacy. (Of course, they see them as worthy of festivals and getting kicked out of the house for the smell. There’s no arguing about it; ramps are delicious.)

Here’s a somewhat unusual ramp recipe for you, using the traditional pairing of ramps and bacon along with homemade udon, and taking advantage of that gorgeous local asparagus you can find this time of year as well.

As for the udon, well – when we served it at the restaurant, one diner told our waitress that it was the best udon he’s ever tasted in his life. Give it a try yourself!

2007: Banana Rum Ketchup
2006: Ramp Butter

Ramp Udon Soup with Bacon Consommé and Asparagus Tempura
Bacon consommé (recipe below)
Udon (recipe below)
Asparagus tempura (recipe below)
Safflower oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Start making the bacon consommé (recipe below) at least a week in advance. Start making the udon (recipe below) about 4 hours in advance. Make tempura batter about 1/2 hour in advance. You can even saute the ramps in advance, if you like.

Clean the ramps and cut off and discard the root ends. Cut each ramp into three sections by first cutting the leaves from the stems/bulbs, then cutting the stems/bulbs in half.

Saute in a bit of safflower oil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Mix with udon in a bowl. Pour bacon consommé over the udon and ramps. Serve with asparagus tempura.

Bacon Consommé
1 lb bacon
3 quarts or so of water

In a large pot, fry the bacon until delicious. Add the water and simmer for an hour or so. If the flavor isn’t sufficiently infused at that point, blend the bacon and water together.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Reduce the resulting liquid to taste.

Measure the weight of the liquid you end up with, and measure out .7% gelatin by weight. Take a cup of the liquid and set it aside to cool a bit, then stir in the gelatin. Stir back into the rest of the liquid.

Put the liquid in a ziplock bag and freeze.

Once it is frozen, set it up in your fridge in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl. As the block melts, bacon consommé will drip through the cheesecloth into the bowl below. The gelatin that remains acts as a strainer so that the dripping liquid is perfectly clear.

You can make this in advance and freeze it until it is needed.

(recipe from Cook & Eat)
1 C lukewarm water
5 tsp salt
3 1/2 C bread flour
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour

Dissolve the salt in about 1 tbsp of the water, then add the rest of the water. Set aside.

In your Kitchenaid, combine the two flours and salt. Pour in the water. With the dough hook attachment, knead on the lowest speed until it is combined and ceases to adhere to the hook. If it stays as too ragged, sprinkle in a bit more water.

Once it ceases to adhere to the hook, remove the dough from the Kitchenaid and continue to knead by hand as hard as you can for about 10 minutes on a floured surface. If it’s too sticky, you can add in a bit more bread flour. (This is highly unlikely.)

The dough is incredibly stiff and hard to knead, so after about 10 minutes, just give up! Wrap the dough in a very sturdy plastic bag – or, better yet, several layers of sturdy plastic bags. On top of the plastic bag layer(s), wrap a large kitchen towel. Put the wrapped dough on the ground and stand on it.

Knead the dough with your feet by walking back and forth across on it for a minute or so.

Then unwrap the dough, give it a double fold, put it back in the bag, wrap it back in the towel and walk on it some more. Repeat this process about 4 times. Then, leaving the dough in the bag, let it rest for 3 hours in a warm place.

After 3 hours have passed, take the dough out and form it into a ball. Wrap it back up and walk on it one more time, trying to spread the dough out as much as possible with your feet.

Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a floured surface until it is a square about 1/8 inch thick. This is tough, but you can do it. If necessary, Cook & Eat suggests cutting the dough into 4 pieces and run it through the thickest setting of a pasta machine, giving them a good dusting of flour, but we didn’t actually try that ourselves.

Once the dough is rolled out thin enough, fold it in half, and then in half again. Then, with one of the long edges facing you, slice the dough in 1/8 inch wide pieces. Dust the sliced pieces with a bit more flour as you go to prevent them from sticking.

Boil the noodles immediately, or cover with a towel while you are waiting for the water to come to a boil. The noodles will need to boil for about 7 minutes, stirred with a chopstick to prevent them form sticking together.

Asparagus Tempura
for the batter
1/2 C ice water
1/2 C vodka
1 1/8 C all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
for the asparagus and the frying
Oil for frying (peanut, safflower, or corn oil, ideally)

Stir the batter ingredients together with a fork. Don’t spend too long on this, and leave the batter slightly lumpy. Stick it in the fridge to chill until cold, at least half an hour or so.

Clean and dry your asparagus, cutting off the woody ends. (I like to snap them off, then trim the ragged end nicely for serving.)

Heat up enough oil for deep-frying to 425 F.

Dip the asparagus in the tempura batter, one stalk at a time. With your fingers, scrape off any excess batter, such that the asparagus is only lightly covered. Fry just a few stalks at a time, such that the oil never goes below 375 F.

Deep-fry the asparagus until golden brown. This should happen very quickly, so don’t walk away! Then remove the tempura with a slotted spoon and set it on a rack or paper towel covered plate to drain.

Wait for the oil to come back up to 425 F before adding in the next batch each time.

Serve immediately.

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Parsnip Mint Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/04/24/parsnip-mint-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/04/24/parsnip-mint-soup/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2008 12:02:13 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/04/24/parsnip-mint-soup/

There’s something about temperature contrasts that really works for me, so I love the hot soup and cold salsa here with every bite. The salsa is also pretty key for me because when it come down to it, I just don’t like smooth soups without any texture to them.

The greenmarkets are full of these big, meaty parsnips lately – take advantage of them!

In other news, there are still a few seats available for the May 3rd dinner at Jack, and we just announced the May 10th menu yesterday.

2007: Persimmon Mint Salsa
2006: Striped Bass with Ramps

Parsnip Mint Soup
(adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters)
1 white onion
3 tbsp butter
2 lbs parsnips
1/2 lb potatoes
4-6 C chicken stock
1 bunch fresh mint (about 1/4 lb), leaves only
1 small red onion
juice of 1 lime
some fresh hot chile

Peel and slice the onion and put it into stew in the butter, covered, over low heat. Peel the parsnips and potatoes and cut into large chunks.

Once the onions are soft, add the potatoes and parsnips and salt and continue to stew, covered, for about 10 minutes more.

Add chicken stock to cover and simmer until veg is totally cooked. Remove from heat.

Reserve a handful of the mint leaves and throw the rest into the soup. Puree the soup, then strain. Season with salt and pepper.

Make salsa with red onion, reserved mint, lime juice, and hot chiles.

Serve hot, garnished with cold salsa.

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Goose Stew http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/04/09/goose-stew/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/04/09/goose-stew/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2008 17:34:16 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/04/09/goose-stew/

This is another recipe adapted from A Drizzle of Honey: The Life and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, a cookbook full of recipes for foods cooked and eaten by Jews and conversos in the Iberian Peninsula during the time of the Inquisition. About a year and a half ago, I posted my adaptation of the Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew from this book, which was absolutely splendid.

This goose stew is a bit harder to put together, but it is tasty as well. In fact, one of the adaptations we made here was adding bulgur to soak up some of the spiced goose stock and add heft to the stew, which I realized later makes it somewhat more similar to the Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew than the cookbook authors intended.

I shared the recipe with my friend Cat, who made a completely different adaptation of it. She used pomegranate seeds, as the recipe originally called for, and didn’t add in the bulgur. She left out the rose hips (as we did) and the ginger (which we left in). And most drastically, she used lamb instead of leftover roast goose. Oh versatile recipe! She and her fiance said that their version was mindblowingly delicious as well.

We made it with goose because we just happened to be roasting a goose anyway, for our belated second (or perhaps fourth, depending on whose count we use) Thanksgiving dinner in March. It’s never too late for an extra Thanksgiving, and it’s always worth making the time for more food, family, love, and gratitude for the time we share with each other. Also, goose.

Although I described A Drizzle of Honey when I posted that last recipe we adapted from it, I feel compelled to repeat the description here:

The recipes in this book were mostly gleaned from testimony denouncing the Jews during the inquisition. Jews were often identified by cultural signs, such as their culinary customs, and servants would be called to testify on the types of food their mistresses would cook. Testimony against them would often allege that they cut the fat and veins from their meat, salted their meat, would not eat pork, or cooked stews on Friday afternoon to eat cold on Saturday. Even cooking meat in olive oil was seen as evidence of secret “Judaizing,” because most Christians preferred to cook their meat in rendered fat, particularly lard.

Jewish women were cited as having myriad creative excuses, such as claiming that they ate cold meat on Saturday because it tasted better cold. Many really did seem to believe that they removed the fat and veins because the meat tasted better that way, or salted the meat in order to better preserve it. We do these things because our mothers did them, and we do not always quite remember why.

Many of the women whose recipes I have here were murdered for cooking these meals. It is a strange feeling, going through this book and reading stories of betrayal and death, each followed by a description of an intriguing dish. Following their recipes feels like a very delicious act of remembrance.

2007: Baby Lion’s Head Meatballs
2006: Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies

Goose Stew
(adapted from A Drizzle of Honey: The Life and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson)
1 roast goose carcass and neck
1 bay leaf
4 lbs coarsely chopped leftover roast goose
3/4 C red wine
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 dried birdseye pepper, coarsely ground
1/4 C honey
1 1/2 C bulgur
A bit of goose fat, to taste
Salt to taste

Two nights before you make the stew, scald the goose and make some stock.

Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Scald the goose by placing it in the boiling water for 1 minute (dipping the top for 1 minute and then the bottom for 1 minute.) Pat the goose dry, then set it uncovered on a rack in your fridge to fully dry overnight. This process will make the skin crispier, less fatty, and tastier.

Place the uncooked innards and bay leaf into the scalding water. Cover and simmer for several hours, until tasty. Reduce to intensify the flavor as necessary. Strain and let cool in the fridge overnight.

The next day, roast the goose on a rack over a big roasting pan. Start it on one side, at 400 F. After 30 minutes, rotate it to the other side, and lower the heat to 350 F. After 45 minutes, rotate it breast up, and continue cooking until it hits an internal temperature of 175 F (going by a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh). Remove it from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes, to let it hit an internal temperature of 180 F.

Strain the liquid fat left in the baking pan (there will be quite a lot) and reserve. Freeze whatever you don’t use. Potatoes fried in goose fat are delicious.

Eat roast goose and rejoice. Reserve 4 lbs meat for the stew. (Or scale the stew down to match however much meat you do have left.) Make stock from the carcass.

The day after that, skim the fat from the stock and pour 6 C stock into a large pot, along with some of the fat to taste. Chop up about 4 lbs leftover roast goose meat and throw it in, too. Add the wine, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, birdseye pepper, honey, and pomegranate molasses. Cover and gently simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Add the bulgur and salt and continue to simmer, covered, for 20 more minutes.

Take the lid off and let the stew continue to simmer about 10 minutes more. Add more goose stock (or water) if necessary to fully cook the bulgur.

Garnish with fresh mint and/or pomegranate seeds.

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Red Bean and Walnut Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/05/red-bean-and-walnut-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/05/red-bean-and-walnut-soup/#comments Tue, 05 Feb 2008 17:34:52 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/05/red-bean-and-walnut-soup/

This soup is of Georgian origin, where pairing red beans and walnuts appears to be some sort of national pastime. It sure beats baseball. This is a rustic soup, lusciously creamy and actually good for you, too. (Unless you overload on the olive oil, that is. Since I don’t specify quantities there, on your own head be it.)

I definitely plan to make this again. Next time, however, I think I will use it in a shallow bowl or curved plate as the bottom saucy layer of a plated entree, instead of serving it as a soup on its own. It was wonderful as a soup, but I think it would also shine as part of a composed dish.

Every recipe is a building block. Every recipe is not just a meal, but also a component and a tool.

How would you suggest using this as part of a composed dish?

Around this time last year, we were making: Sweet and Sour Lotus Root

Red Bean and Walnut Soup
(adapted from Please to the Table by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman)
1 lb. dried red beans (we used Rio Zape heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo)
10-12 C chicken stock (you can use half water if you must)
Olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/2 C walnut pieces, ground in a Sumeet or food processor
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C tarragon vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro and parsley for garnish

Rinse the beans and soak them in water overnight.

Drain the beans, then put them in a pot with 10 C chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beans are tender and almost (but not quite) mushy. This may take about an hour and a half, depending on your beans. Alternatively, you can cook them in your pressure cooker for about 35 minutes.

Puree some of the beans and stir back into the pot (or use an immersion blender). Salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer while you deal with the next step.

In a separate pan, saute the onions in olive oil until they are golden but not too brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Stir the onions, garlic, and oil into the beans, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Stir in the ground walnuts, crushed coriander seeds, and tarragon vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

If need be, stir in extra chicken stock to thin the soup further, and adjust the seasoning to taste. I rather liked a lot of black pepper in this.

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Sunchoke Fish Chowder http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/01/27/sunchoke-fish-chowder/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/01/27/sunchoke-fish-chowder/#comments Sun, 27 Jan 2008 19:59:13 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/01/27/sunchoke-fish-chowder/

Yes, that’s bacon sprinkled on top of an Arabic spiced New England fish chowder pictured in front of my tallis bag, which features a beautiful watercolor painting of Jerusalem. Sacrelicious, maybe, but it all makes sense – this chowder is made with Jerusalem artichokes instead of potatoes, after all.

Sunchokes (a/k/a Jerusalem artichokes) are subtly magnificent root vegetables whose creamy flavor does wonders in transforming a simple fish chowder into something special. I also added za’atar (our version is a blend of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and sumac) to this chowder instead of the more traditional thyme, which added an extra dimension of flavor.

I could live off of chowder perfectly happily for weeks, myself. As a kid, I sometimes did. So it’s nice to mix things up and make the ordinary extraordinary again.

Please don’t be scared away because the recipe calls for fish stock. Your fishmonger will almost certainly give you fish frames (bones and perhaps heads) for free, and unlike with meat, you won’t have to simmer your fish bones for hours. Twenty minutes of simmering, ten minutes of steeping off the heat, and you’re done.

We used to freeze fish stock in case of chowder, but it’s so quick to make (and space is at such a premium in our freezer) that we stopped bothering. Now, we just simmer up a batch each time we need it.

Sunchoke Fish Chowder
(adapted from Jasper White’s 50 Chowders)
4 oz meaty bacon, cut into 1/3″ dice
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium onions, cut into 3/4″ dice
2 dried bay leaves
3/8 C za’atar (recipe below)
2 1/2 lbs sunchokes (a/k/a jerusalem artichokes), peeled and sliced 1/3″ thick
5 C fish stock (recipe below)
3 lbs skinless cod fillets (make sure to remove the pinbones!)
1 1/8 C heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put the bacon pieces in your chowder pot and render them over medium-low heat, until they have released their liquid fat and begun to crisp. You want to keep the heat fairly low to keep from burning the fat.

Remove the bacon pieces and set them aside for later.

Add the butter, onions, and bay leaves. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened but not browned. Stir in the za’atar and saute for a minute longer.

Add the sunchokes and fish stock, supplementing with water if necessary so that the sunchokes are just barely covered. Bring to a boil, cover, and let it continue to boil for 10 minutes, until the sunchokes are soft on the outside but still somewhat firm on the inside. Smash a few of the sunchoke slices in order to thicken the broth.

Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper to taste. Try to overseason a bit, so you don’t have to stir too much to fix the seasoning level after the fish goes in.

Add the cod to the pot. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and let sit sit, covered, for another 10 minutes. The fish will finish cooking in this time.

Gently stir in the cream. Taste. Season further if needed.

If you have the time, let the chowder cool to room temperature and then reheat it gently before eating, in order to give the flavors a chance to meld together more fully.

2 tbsp sesame seeds, ground
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp ground sumac

Mix together. This is an unusual za’atar recipe, in that the sesame seeds are ground. Traditionally, they are left whole instead. I just like it better this way.

Fish Stock
4 lbs. fish frames (bones & heads (gills removed))
1/2 C dry white wine
Approximately 2 quarts water
2 medium onions, very thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, very thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, very thinly sliced
2 dried bay leaves
1/4 C roughly chopped fresh parsley
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp black peppercorns

Get a big pot. Combine the fish racks, wine, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, skimming off the ick, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in all the other ingredients. Add more water to cover, if needed.

Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir, and leave it to steep for 10 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or a very fine-meshed sieve.

You can freeze this stock for later use if you have any left over.

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Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/10/hungarian-sausage-baby-bok-choy-and-sweet-potato-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/10/hungarian-sausage-baby-bok-choy-and-sweet-potato-soup/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2007 12:42:03 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/10/hungarian-sausage-baby-bok-choy-and-sweet-potato-soup/

My grandmother has congestive heart failure, which means that she is restricted to a low-salt diet. When she gets sick in the winter this goes straight out the window, because she tends to order in salty soup from the local take-out Chinese food place on the corner. I try to stave this off by delivering homemade chicken stock to her whenever we make up a batch. All she ever cares about is broth, anyway.

(She also has diabetes. No sugar and no salt, can you imagine? We work very hard to make tasty things for her, and she always appreciates that we go out of our way to make even desserts that she can eat.)

Point being, when I stopped by with soup earlier this week, she insisted that I take some her Hungarian sausage in exchange. Hungarian sausage is just about the best stuff around, spicysavory with paprika and all sorts of other tasty stuff going on.

When I was in Hungary, I spent a lot of time going into supermarkets and butchers’ shops, trying to order my favorite kind of kolbasz (sausage). People would smile and have whole conversations at me that I could not understand, and I would resort to simply pointing at the hanging meats and asking, “Edes? Finom?” (Sweet? Delicious?)

“Edes! Finom!” they would affirm, and pack me off with my meats, happy as can be.

My fridge also happened to be stuffed with extra baby bok choy this week, because Dave picked up a pound and a half of it when all I needed was a handful for a bowl of Barbara‘s amazing Kimchi Noodle Soup.

What to do, what to do? I decided to adapt Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe for Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup to use up the greens and meats that just happened to be filling my fridge. I made a few other changes to the recipe along the way, too, reducing the fat and adding in a few shallots.

It turned out fantastic!

Okay, listen. Most of the flavor in this soup comes from the sausage. So if you’re going to make this, use the tastiest sausage you can get your grubby little paws on. If you live in NYC, that means getting up to the hentes (pronounced hentesh, this is the Hungarian word for butcher) on the corner of E. 81st St. and 2nd Ave and buying a selection of Hungarian sausages to mix and match into the soup.

Just smile at them and ask, “Edes? Csipos? Finom?” (Ay-desh (‘ay’ like ‘hay’ without the h), meaning sweet; chee-poshe, meaning spicy; fee-nome, meaning delicious.)

They will take good care of you there.

And suddenly it occurs to me that this post would make an excellent entry for Apples & Thyme, a food blog event celebrating our relationships with our mothers and grandmothers.

Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of a recipe from Bon Appétit, October 2007)
12 oz Hungarian sausage, cut into 1/4″ thick round slices
2 medium onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs. red-skinned sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices
1 lb. white-skinned potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4″ thick slices
6 C chicken stock
12 oz. baby bok choy, cores cut out and discarded

Cook the sliced sausage in your soup pot over medium heat, stirring often, until they start to look done and a decent amount of fat has rendered out of them. Transfer the sausage to a plate covered in paper towels to drain.

Add the onions to pot and cook until they just start to brown, stirring often. I usually suggest browning your onions very deep and dark, but with this recipe to do so would make the whole thing too sweet. So, just go until they are translucent and just barely getting golden.

Add the garlic and potatoes and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes begin to soften (or it looks like it’s about to burn, whichever comes first).

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping up the tasty browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft. This should take about 20 minutes.

Partially mash the potatoes with your wooden spoon (or other stirring implement) against the side of the pot, leaving them pretty chunky. Stir in the sausage. Stir in the baby bok choy and simmer just until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Sweet Potato, Chestnut, and Bacon Soup http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/02/sweet-potato-chestnut-and-bacon-soup/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/02/sweet-potato-chestnut-and-bacon-soup/#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2007 02:19:37 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/02/sweet-potato-chestnut-and-bacon-soup/

This is meant as a direct response to the question – what do you do when you come across a monstrously large sweet potato that stares you in the face and demands to be bested?

You puree the sucker into soup, that’s what.

Sweet Potato, Chestnut, and Bacon Soup
1 large head of garlic
3 lbs. sweet potato, peeled and chopped
6 C chicken stock
8 strips bacon
30 fresh sage leaves
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne*
250 g cooked chestnut, chopped

Roast the head of garlic in the ordinary fashion. That is, by cutting off the top, pouring in olive oil, wrapping it in aluminum foil, and sticking it in a 375F oven for about 45 minutes, or until lovely, fragrant, and soft.

Boil the sweet potato in the stock for 15-20 minutes, with salt to taste.

In the meantime, slowly cook the bacon – you want to render out as much fat as you can without burning it. Then pour off the fat (we save ours in a can in the freezer, because it always comes in handy eventually). Chop the bacon into bits.

Add the sage, garlic (squirted out of its peel), and cayenne to the soup. Puree until fairly smooth. Then, stir in the chestnut and bacon.

Serve hot, garnished with sour cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkle of sage.

* I use super-hot cayenne, so if you’re using ordinary supermarket cayenne, you may want to double this or more.

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