Seven Soup Sunday – Soup Seven – How my mom made me look good for my husband, and French Onion Soup

So, after soup six on Sunday, I was hungry, so I decided this one was easy enough that I’d wait.  I do actually know how to count.  I’m just kind of lazy.

My mom is a tremendous cook.  She’s a lot of other things, but man did she valiantly feed a family of six for about a billion years amid cries of “What’s in this?” (she once said “Like saying ‘Turmeric’ makes that turn out any better.”)

She had a few things that I still miss and try to recreate from time to time.  My mom makes a French Onion Soup that is the best, and she gave me the recipe.  It’s not her recipe, she is quick to point out, but Annemarie’s message.  Like I know who that is.  With apologies to Annemarie, as far as I’m concerned, this is Mom’s French Onion Soup.

Scott – who was once on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and got off at the Lebanon exit and drove several miles so that he could buy Lebanon Bologna in actual Lebanon, also used to tell me about a time when he rode very far on a motorcycle to have a particular French onion soup.  The first time I made this, he was quite skeptical that it would be anywhere near as delicious as that mythical soup, but the first time I made this, he pumped his fist and said “That’s the SOUP!”  Now when I come home with consommé, he’s pretty happy, because he knows what’s coming.

  • 1 t butter
  • a piece of bacon, rendered
  • 4 big onions chopped
  • 2 cans of consommé
  • 1 can of water
  • 1 T of sherry (mom uses brandy, which I did not have)
  • 4 slices of French bread, toasted
  • 1/4 c of smoked or regular gruyere
  • 1/4 c of parmesan cheese
  1. Cook the bacon to render about 1 t of fat.  Remove the bacon part, leave the fat, throw in the butter and melt.
  2. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté til they’re golden brown
  3. Add the consommé and water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer
  4. Simmer for an hour.  Add the sherry, and simmer 10 more minutes
  5. Put the toast in oven proof soup bowls, one per bowl,or in a crock.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
  6. Broil until the cheese is bubbly (with a cookie sheet underneath)

Eat.  Make your husband happy!

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 6 – Taco Night Taco Soup – Just be you.

It has been harder than you’d think to come up with seven soups, and I came up with seven and then remembered I’d promised Scott French Onion Soup and I bounced some sort of something with potatoes soup off the list to be dealt with next Sunday.

Around the time I thought of the tomato croutons for the cheese soup I started wondering what other weirdo things I could do, and then I thought of the Moroccan carrots and the sausage and peppers and whatnot.  And then I thought – “A taco is kind of a sandwich.  I could make taco soup.”  A word to the wise.  When you think you’re inventing stuff, don’t google it.  Everything’s already been invented.  (Seriously – one time, I thought “A really good t-shirt would be WWSD – ‘What Would Scooby Do'” and then I googled it and my week was ruined.)  Just do your own thing, and there will probably be some overlap, there being six or seven billion people on the planet and whatnot.  You just be you, you weird, wonderful little human, you. There are taco soup recipes out there and I just ignored them and did my own thing.

Of course, a couple of steps in, I turned to Scott, and said, “You know what I just realized another good name for taco soup would be?  Chili.”  Dammit.

Anyway – this supposed to be reminiscent of the tacos my mom used to make, ground beef, onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese on a crispy, Old El Paso taco shell.  Nothing fancy.  (No mirepoix, no roux, and a bunch of cans).

Taco Night Taco Soup

  • 2 Onions, sliced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Olive oil
  • A BUNCH of Cumin.  I may have used 3 Tablespoons…
  • Chili Powder (just admit this is kind of chili) about maybe a tablespoon(?)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 bag of frozen corn
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cans of black beans, not drained
  • 1 can of Medium enchilada sauce
  • 4 c. beef stock (note: Not Vegan)
  1. Slice the onions and sauté them in the oil.  Add the ground beef and a bunch of cumin and the chili powder and salt and brown the beef.
  2. Throw in the corn, tomatoes, black beans, and enchilada sauce – Stir it up.
  3. Add the stock, taste and correct the seasonings.
  4. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer.
  5. While it’s cooking take out 4 soft corn tortillas, and cut them into 1/8ths.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, lay the tortilla pieces into the pan tightly, and spray the top of the tortillas with cooking spray.  Bake for about 6 or 7 minutes until they’re crispy.
  6. Serve the soup with some shredded cheese, the tortilla chips, some shredded lettuce, and sour cream and avocado if you have them.  I don’t, and this is dinner tonight, and I’m sad.

Be thankful for a dude who loves you, even when you invent something and then realize you’ve invented chili.

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 5 – Onion and Pepper Soup – the Soup of True Love

Oh, my Scottie loves the Philly things.  I am not going to love this soup.  But sometimes when you love someone you cook them stuff that they love, and you like it as much as you can, and you get on with it and go about your day.

He loves sausages with peppers and onions.  Loves peppers.  Loves them cooked.  I am a raw pepper kind of girl.  Something in the cooking process just, kind of doesn’t do it for me.  But here we are, at the beginning of winter, and I’ve got a couple of packages of frozen peppers left over from the summer CSA, and a few fresh ones, quickly losing their crunch, and I’m making soup, and Scottie likes cooked peppers and especially sausage with onions and peppers, so there you go.  He’ll eat the beet soup, and I’ll eat this, and we’ll meet in the middle.

In the Philly area, of course, Sausage and Peppers is a sandwich.  But I’m making soup.  I’m taking a little poetic license with the sandwich.

Onion and Pepper Soup

  • So. Damn. Many. Peppers. Coarsely chopped.  2 bell peppers and then five little sweet peppers and a package of cooked roasted something or other peppers and a package of frozen sliced peppers.  The pepper onion ration in this mother is about 3 – 1, volume-wise.
  • 1 Onion coarsely chopped.
  • Olive oil, of course
  • 3 Frozen sausages left over from the meat CSA either Andouille or Hot Italian, I have no idea because it is a jungle in my freezer, but thawed out in hot water, casings removed (Smokey also likes sausage casings.  Knock me over with a feather)
  • About a quarter cup of frozen leftover pesto or just a bunch of basil if you don’t have pesto
  • About a cup of leftover pizza sauce or pasta sauce if you don’t have that, or a can of diced tomatoes, a bunch of garlic (which should be sautéd with the peppers and onions and a bunch of basil, oregano and parsley)
  • 4 cups of beef stock.

Basically, this soup is actually called “Clean out Amy’s Freezer”

  1. Chop up the peppers and onions and sauté them in the oil (also the garlic, if you’re going that route) Then add the spices to taste if you are going this route (7 or 8 on the burner) until the onions are getting soft
  2. Add the sausage, and crumble it up as it browns
  3. Add the pesto and the pizza sauce
  4. Add the broth
  5. Bring to a boil at the highest setting, then reduce the heat to a 2 and simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Enjoy the smell of cooking peppers if you can.

I’m going to probably throw a handful of Orzo into this when we eat it, and serve it with a loaf of French bread and a salad.

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 4 – Smokey’s Moroccan Carrot Soup

I’m going to forget what I put in this one, I know it.

Somehow, our dogs are good at longevity.  Our sweet little corgi mix, Ruthie, was 20 years old when she died.  We got Smoke, a terrier mix that looks like someone cut up 5 dogs and sewed them together into a new dog, shortly after we were married, 14 1/2 years ago.   She was about 6 months old at the time and this dog – oh, man, was she naughty when she was little.  There is absolutely no hyperbole in saying that she ate, ate, a grand total of four couches in the first two or three years we had her. (We are – “Hey, do you want this couch we are getting rid of” people, for the most part, so it wasn’t as expensive a proposition as it might have been).  Once she escaped from the house and made a beeline across the street, into the neighbor’s living room, and stole the neighbor dog’s rawhide bone with, what I swear, was the biggest smile on her face.

Bumpus dog.  She’s a Bumpus dog.

And now she’s in her twilight years.  She’s a lot mellower.  She doesn’t eat couches anymore.  But boy can she trip you when you’re cooking.  She looks very sad at you, and suggests that you might want to drop a touch of whatever you’re up to in her direction.  I hate feeding her people food, but Scott has put her in charge of leftover disposal, so she thinks you’re just forgetting when you ignore her.

One day, a couple of years ago, I was chopping carrots, and Smoke was doing her thing, running circles around my feet, tripping me, and looking up with sad eyes and a plaintive whine.

“FINE!” I said.  “You’re a DOG.  Dogs don’t like carrots.  HERE.”

She ate the whole raw thing in three chomps.

This dog loves carrots.  She goes nuts for them.  She knows what they are when they come out of the refrigerator.  So, basically, I have a CSA to keep the dog in organic carrots?  That’s sort of a joke.

But I also have a bunch of carrots right now.

Do you know that Moroccan Carrot Salad?  That was what I was going for here, but I didn’t quite do it.  Doesn’t matter.  This soup is tasty anyway.  I assume Scott will feed her the leftovers.  All spice measurements are approximate, and to taste.

Smokey’s Moroccan Carrot Soup

  • Some olive oil
  • An onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger root, coarsely chopped
  • A little more than a pound of carrots, sliced in 1/4 – 1/2 inch rounds
  • Cumin – (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • Coriander seed (about a teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (about a Tablespoon)
  • Chili powder (a teensy bit)
  • The seeds of 1 cardamom pod
  • Ginger – around a teaspoon
  • Honey – about a tablespoon
  • Lemon juice – about a tablespoon
  • 4 c broth
  1. Heat the olive oil and sauté the ginger root and onion until the onion is soft
  2. Toss in the coriander and stir around until it starts popping
  3. Add the other spices and stir to coat the onion and ginger root
  4. Add the carrots and stir until coated
  5. Squirt in the lemon juice and honey
  6. Add the broth
  7. Boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the carrots are soft.
  8. Blend and serve.

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 3 Beet and Ginger Soup

I am still working with last week’s leftovers here…

Very very many years ago, when I was four, my mom married my dad, who moved us from Arizona to Vermont.  Eventually, Vermont would become my home, but I think at first, it was a little new and different.  For one thing, you know.  Snow.  Loads and loads and pounds of the stuff.  For another, a new school, new people, and I think I was a little bit shy and pretty sensitive as a kid.

Once my mom told me that she’d met some new people, and that they had twins, and that some time I would be able to play with these twins.  The whole thing seemed pretty exotic to only child me.  I remember once being with my mom and some woman with big bald toddler twins, and asking my mother with a mixture of excitement and disappointment whether these were my twins.  They were not.

And then one day there was a birthday party and there were my twins, turning four.  Jessica, I think, standing on the big rock in their front yard, and Carla running around.  I don’t remember much.  I assume there was cake, and ice cream, and presents, purchased by my mom, but presented by me.  I do know, however, that that was the start of Vermont being home.  It was the start of endless sleepovers and adventures, finding kittens in a barn, playing king of the mountain on a rusty trash pile in the woods*, staying up too late, Archie comics, Mad Magazines, and swimming in the pond.  It felt like a lifetime.  It feels like a lifetime.

We went to different schools during elementary school, so all our time was play time.  In junior high, we were in the same school, but different grades.  We never had classes together.  But in our junior high, you could take Russian.  I did.  And Jessica did.  When I was in 8th grade, and she was in 7th, the Russian classes held a Russian dinner, where we both cooked and served.  I think it was a fundraiser for a trip to Montreal for a Russian Easter Service.  (Here is what I do not recommend:  Russian Easter Services.  They last for three hours, and they are in Russian way beyond your limited ability to count to ten).

There is a picture in the yearbook of Jess and me, serving at the Russian dinner, a moment in time before high school hit, and then college, and what felt like it would last forever ending as we all moved to different parts of the country, and then back again, and every once in a while we find each other, and those tiny pieces of ourselves that we left in the woods.

That Russian dinner was the first place I saw borscht, and tiropites and came at the end of my Russian adventure, but not Jessica’s.  Jessica went on to major in Russian at Wellesley and visit Moscow, and come back and surprise me with how taken she was by its beauty.

Beet and Ginger Soup

  • 7 small roasted beets in their skins, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pieces of ginger root, the size of my thumb, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups of stock
  • 2 shakes of dried orange peel
  • 1 drop of orange oil, if you can find it
  1. By this point, you know the drill, right?  Chop the onion and ginger, and sauté them in the olive oil until the onion is soft
  2. Throw in the chopped beets
  3. Add the stock
  4. Add the orange peel and orange oil
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a while – 30 -45 minutes
  6. Blend with the immersion blender.
  7. Eat.

I’m probably going to make some little mushroom dumplings with this, and throw in some feta cheese.

* Vermont woods are often home to rusty trash piles.  As much fun as “Rusty Trash Pile King of the Mountain” might sound, you should really not try it unless your tetanus shot is up to date, which, I guess ours were, because none of us ever got tetanus.

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 2 – Leftover Arlene’s Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

Hold on to your hat, because you are about to find out how fancy I am.  I’m about to lay a little French on you.  Mirepoix.  Roux.

Whoa.  I need to take a rest now.

I met Arlene during the first weeks of college back in the early 80s.  She was funny, and smart and reminded me a little of my friend Peter, and it’s surprising, in retrospect, how comforting it can be to meet someone who reminds you vaguely of someone you love when you’re 18 and far from home.  We lived on different floors of the same dorm, and though we ran in different circles, a visit with Arlene always had some sanity and real-ness that was sorely lacking in my life.  I met Doug a couple of years later and when I think of Doug I think of laughing until I cried in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping.  I lost touch with Doug and Arlene after college but they didn’t lose touch with each other, instead they lived together and eventually got married, did something way smart and over my head in the tech industry for several years, and then wound their business down and are driving around America.  Still working, actually.

I found them on Facebook in the last couple of years.  They are still funny, still real, still smart and when I found out they would be traveling I browbeat them into visiting Vermont.

As I mentioned, when I woke up last Sunday and said not “I feel like showing you all the charming aspects of my hometown” but “I kind of feel like cooking all day,” they were on it.

I had three heads of cauliflower, because I am bad at CSA, so I roasted one with some other vegetables and Arlene made something along the lines of this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with the other two.  There’s no mac in it.  As we cooked the day away (and also played Bananagrams), Arlene kept saying – “you won’t have to cook this week.”  She was right.  (also, instead of cream cheese, she used goat cheese, and instead of 1 cup of cream, she used two, probably because I needed the other one.  She’s real, but she’s kind of mean.  Not really).

I am here to tell you that we ate that Cauliflower with dinner that night, and two other nights this week and it was delicious.

I woke up this morning, and there’s still about 2 cups of it left.

Now: Here comes the French.

I think most soups start with a mirepoix which is roughly equal parts of carrot, celery, and onion.

Something good for thickening stuff, and really indispensable for any kind of cheese sauce is a roux which is equal parts of melted butter and flour.  See how fancy that was?

Leftover Arlene’s Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

  • 2ish cups of Arlene’s leftover cheesy cauliflower
  • 2 small carrots, 1 small onion, and a stalk of celery, chopped into a mirepoix
  • Some olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached whole wheat flour
  • 1 12 oz beer
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups of stock
  • Some cumin, because cumin makes everything wonderful (you can also use something that makes you equally happy
  1. Chop up the stuff for your mirepoix.  In a soup pot, heat a little olive oil (setting – 7) and sauté until everything’s a little bit soft.  (about 3 minutes?) Scoop it out and set it aside.
  2. In the same pot, melt the butter, get a phone call while you’re trying to get the flour out of the cabinet, burn the damned butter, throw it out, melt more butter, and then stir the flour into the melted butter.  Add the beer, first a little at a time, and then all at once.  Whisk out the lumps from cutting corners on this step.  Add the horseradish.
  3. Stir in the cheese, a handful at a time, until it’s all melted.
  4. Stir in the stock.
  5. Throw the sautéd mirepoix back in there.
  6. Turn the heat up high, bring it to a boil, and then turn it way down (setting – 2)
  7. Simmer for a while.  Check it every five minutes unless you want just a big lump of cheese on the bottom of the pan.
  8. When the carrots are all cooked, and squishy, throw in the cauliflower and cook for about 5-10 more minutes.
  9. Blend the soup with an immersion blender.

Some thoughts about this soup:

  1. Holy Toledo is it ever good!
  2. Melted cheese does not wreak the havoc you would think on an immersion blender.
  3. For the love of all that is good and holy wash that pan fast.
  4. Now I am thinking about trying to make tomato bread somehow for croutons and turn the grilled cheese and tomato soup world on its head.
  5. Old friends are the best.

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 1 – Curried Leftover Squash Soup

We signed up for a CSA.  To say it is abundant is an understatement.  I am actually having a hard time keeping up with the vegetables, and I’ve still got carrots left over from the summer share and it’s now All Squash All the Time season.

Last weekend we had a glorious visit from my old friends, Arlene and Doug.  They are the best kind of houseguest, because we did not do one interesting thing all weekend, and they still pretended they’d had a good time.  When I woke up Sunday and said “I kind of feel like cooking because I have a LOT of produce” they said HECK yeah.  Arlene made some delicious cauliflower mac and cheese which was lucky because I had three weeks’ worth of cauliflower that I couldn’t decide what to do with, and we roasted some squash and I made squash ravioli and I made my first ever pumpkin pie from scratch and roasted vegetables and a bread pudding just for the hell of it with a bourbon sauce that I pretty much just want to put on everything from this day forward in perpetuity.

Scott and I ate all week.  So, I’m thinking – I wonder if I can just cook once a week and not waste the abundance of the CSA.

This morning I got up and started chopping and this is what I’ve come up with first.  There was leftover roasted squash and there is also squash this week so I have to think of something to do.

Curried Leftover Squash Soup.  

  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 apple
  • 2ish cups of leftover roasted winter squash maybe more I have no idea how much squash I had (this is a mixture of acorn and delicata)
  • Some oil for sautéing
  • 2 T curry powder
  • If you’re feeling a little naughty, 1/4 c of maple bourbon or 1/4 c of bourbon and a T of maple syrup or 2 T maple syrup or just leave this out if you feel like it.
  • 4 C stock
  1. If you don’t have leftover squash cut up a couple of squashes and roast them at 450 for about an hour with some olive oil or you can just buy the frozen kind which I think comes in 10 oz packages so I’d use 4 or 5 of them.
  2. Chop up the onion, apple, carrots and celery.
  3. Heat the olive oil, (on a six or 7 on my electric stove, which goes to ten) add the onion, sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the celery and sauté that for a couple of minutes, and then add the carrots and sauté that for a couple of minutes, then the apple, and add the curry powder.  (there may be another, better order to do this in.  Maybe make a mirepoix and sauté that and then add the apple, but I just threw stuff in as I finished chopping it).  Add the roasted squash (not in cubes, just in mush form) and stir the whole thing up until it looks disgusting.  Add the bourbon and maple syrup if you’re going to.
  4. Add the stock and stir until it doesn’t look disgusting anymore.
  5. Bring it to a boil. (or, if you prefer to be old timey about it, to the boil) with the heat on high, and covered.
  6. Reduce the heat to a 3 or a four, and simmer for about an hour.  Once the carrots are squishy, you’re probably in pretty good shape.
  7. Then you can blend it with an immersion blender if you want, or a regular blender, or a food processor, if you want to make a huge mess, or you can just leave it as it is.  I don’t care.  If you’re using the stove, I’m going to assume you’re an adult.  Don’t let me tell you what to do.

I’m going to put this in the refrigerator.  When I serve it, I’m going to put a bloop of goat cheese on it.  Or if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll make a paneer, but the likelihood of me feeling cheese making fancy on a work day is basically nil, so forget it.