Monday, February 24, 2014

All About Soup

This week is supposed to turn cold again, with more snow forecast, too.  I am getting a little tired of winter - though my siblings and I all think that my mother must be mad at us for something.  My mother loved snow and has unloaded on all of us this winter.  Tomorrow is the eight anniversary of her passing and I still miss her every day.

My mother was not a big soup maker - she leaned toward the canned variety.  Mrs. BA has ventured down the soup road recently, making a killer batch of Baked Potato Soup not too long ago (the last time it snowed and we had a snow day).  "Potato Soup" is on the list below but Mrs. BA is #1 on my list.  BuzzFeed had this list on the "Definitive Ranking of Soup" and I have posted a recipe for my favorite on the list - New England Clam Chowder.

The Definitive Ranking Of Soups
Not all soup is created equal.

24. Lentil Soup - There is some weird underlying sadness in lentil soup.
23. Egg Drop Soup - Sorry, but those egg shreds will just always be a little unsettling.
22. Split Pea Soup - Split pea texture is what I imagine eating chalk would be like, if the chalk was pea-flavored. Plus it’s hard to eat without thinking about The Exorcist.
21. Manhattan Clam Chowder - You think hot tomato clams make you so metropolitan, don’t you? Sorry, but you’ll never be as cool as New England clam chowder.
20. Chicken Noodle Soup - This soup is great in theory, but it’s almost never executed well. Soggy noodles and sad chicken bits, crying together in a bowl.
19. Broccoli Cheddar Soup - When done well, this soup can be amazing. When done poorly, it’s an ungodly mouth punishment.
18. Gumbo - Gumbo gets points for spiciness, but there’s a lot going on. It can be a little intimidating.
17. Bean Soup - Mad love for dem beans (white beans, black beans, navy beans, love them all), but it must be said: Soups just don’t let ‘em shine.
16. Minestrone - Minestrone is the go-to vegetarian soup, but it can go bad so easily. Urgh, so many overcooked vegetables.
15. Miso Soup - Miso serves its purpose (getting your body ready for the inappropriate amount of sushi you’re about to digest) but — real talk — it’s pretty bland and lame in the grand scheme of soups.
14. Chili - Chili is like a thick, spicy bowl of the American dream. And the American dream will make you feel kind of pukey if you eat too much.
13. Matzo Ball Soup - Sure, sometimes the matzo balls are so dense you feel like you ate a softball and are scared of what’s gonna come out the other end. But when a matzo ball soup is done correctly, it’ll warm your entire soul.
12. Wonton Soup - Never choose between dumplings and soup again.
11. Mushroom Soup - Something magic happens to mushrooms when you blend them up, especially if you use rosemary.
10. Potato Soup - This is perfect if you’ve ever wanted to drink a potato. Potatoes (and sweet potatoes, as shown above) are delicious in all forms, even liquid.
9. New England Clam Chowder - Hot clams in cream seem like a bad idea. WRONG. They’re a great idea.
8. Tomato Soup - Full disclosure: If all tomato soup was actually tomato-cheddar, it would be at the top of the list. But since it isn’t, tomato remains in the upper middle of the pack. Sometimes it is EXACTLY what you need and sometimes it’s just tomato water.
7. Seafood Bisque - Like eating your own personal creamy ocean.
6. Gazpacho - When it’s hot out there is literally nothing better than gazpacho. It has all the flavors of summer in one convenient bowl. It’s like sunshine was put into a soup.
5. Chicken and Dumpling Soup - This is just an excuse to eat dumplings with the added recreation of chasing after them as they swim around.
4. Pho - Not sure what’s better — the subtle flavors or arguing with people about how to pronounce it. Either way, it will fill your soul with happiness.
3. Tortilla Soup - So many yummy flavors! It’s like a fiesta in your mouth.
2. Ramen - There’s a noodle party and you’re invited.
1. Butternut Squash Soup - This soup is the squash at its best. Creamy and yummy, it’s like drinking velvet.

New England Clam Chowder
from Epicurious
by The Culinary Institute of America Gourmet Meals in Minutes

Yield: Makes 2 quarts
Total Time: 45 minutes

  • 1 1/4 pound canned clams, minced, juices reserved 
  • 2-3 cups bottled clam juice 
  • 2 bacon slices, minced 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped 
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled, diced 
  • 3 cups heavy cream or half and half 
  • 6 tablespoons dry sherry, or to taste 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste 
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste 
  • Oyster or saltine crackers, as needed 

Drain the clam juice from the minced clams and combine with enough bottled juice to equal 3 cups of liquid.

Cook the bacon slowly in a soup pot over medium heat until lightly crisp, about 8 minutes.

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in the clam juice, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid should be the consistency of heavy cream. If it is too thick, add more clam juice to adjust the consistency. Add the bay leaf and fresh thyme.

Add the potatoes and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the clams and cream in saucepan and simmer together until the clams are cooked, about 5-8 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add the clams and cream to the soup base. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Stir in the sherry. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. Serve in bowls with the crackers on the side.

No comments: