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Posts Tagged ‘soup’

NEWS FLASH:  IT’S COLD OUTSIDE.

You shouldn’t go outside, for anything.  You should see if you can telecommute to work and then also sell your employer on the idea that you are helping keep the office germ and flu-free.  To circumvent the tundra and give the finger to Mother Nature/Father Winter you should stay snuggled up at home and make tomato soup.  Don’t even go  to the grocery store – you have everything you need (I think…) in your pantry and refrigerator.   This isn’t nasty canned tomato soup, it is spicy tomato and blue cheese soup.  Don’t like blue cheese?  You will.

I love making soups, especially since I have been adamant making my own chicken, turkey and shrimp stock this year.  It’s easy, practically free, contains no sodium (in the stock) and is far tastier than anything Swanson will sell you.  Even the AARP knows of my old lady tendencies since they routinely send me information about joining.

Aside from my love of homemade stocks, soups and old people, I love easy recipes, which this is.  So easy in fact that Amateur Gourmet and Michael Symon do not even expect you to have fresh tomatoes, but canned!  Tomatoes, onions, garlic, hot sauce, dried spices, salt, and chicken stock – oh my!  See what I mean when I say you have all of these things in your pantry!?  OK, you may not have blue cheese nor heavy cream, unless you are me, since I pretty much insist of keeping both in the house.  But just go get them.  If you don’t (think you) like blue cheese (Tracy, I’m looking at you), just buy the super market kind, the one in the plastic container by the gorgonzola.

All you have to do is sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil, then toss the rest in and let it simmer.  If you are particular about creating a smooth tomato soup,  you can use your immersion blender or food processor to blend.  Because our food processor leaks everywhere and I forgot we had a smoothie maker in a cupboard too high up (i’m short), it was determined that chunky tomato soup would be delicious – and it was.

soup and bacon sautéed brussel sprouts

MAYBE, since you are telecommuting, you could make a beautiful boule to accompany your spicy blue cheese tomato soup and even turn it into the adult version of grilled cheese and tomato soup?!?

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What people don’t realize about Russia, is that Russians eat much more than borsch and potatoes.  If you happen to go to Russia, nothing screams tourist quite like a giddy foreigner ordering borsch.  Anyone with an interest in beet soup can imagine how to make it as it doesn’t require a lot of imagination.  Fortunately, this is not a post about the betaine-rich root vegetable, but rather a dynamic soup called solyanka.

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This is a picture of the solyanka that we made in our Russian cooking class while visiting St. Petersburg this past summer.  I know you think it looks like a hodge podge of random leftovers found in your refrigerator thrown together in a pot and called soup.  However, that is often a description suited for Midwestern hot dishes.  Solyanka contains layers of flavors that are unearthed on every bite.  It is hearty enough to serve as a main meal (lunch) but is adequette to serve as a first course. Solyanka can be made in three different ways: vegetarian, meat or fish based, all of which are savory and hit the head on the umami factor.  However, I decided to make this version beef based, just as we were taught on our trip by Chef Tsvetkov Oleg.

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an intimidating character

I mostly followed this recipe and then tweaked it according to my memory of what we ate in the motherland, as well as what could be surmised from the first photo of this post.  In order to ensure the best possible solyanka,  I drove all over th city gathering ingredients.  My first stop was Kowalski’s to take advantage of their fresh olive bar – much to my delight they also had gherkins!  A little over $9 later, I was heading toward my favorite neighborhood butcher, Everett’s where I ordered a fresh-cut sirloin steak (~ 1#) and a hot polish sausage (I know that everyone in South Minneapolis is all about Clancey’s, but we closer to East Lake than…a lake.  Moreover, the guys at Everett’s are top-notch AND they smoke some killer jerky).  Eleven dollars later, I was out of there and on my way home to start making soup.

I cubed the sirloin in to pieces measuring no more than 1/4″ on each side and threw them in the pot with about eight cups of water.  Because I bought more steak than the recipe required, I compensated by adding an extra two cups of water.  As the beef and water became broth, I fried up some bacon, threw that in the pot, as well as sliced the Polish and threw that in as well.  With all of the meat accounted for, I moved on to the vegetables.

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I cut up an onion and the pickles and sautéed them in the same pan as the one I cooked the bacon in, leaving just enough grease to cook these veggies.  When the onions started to become translucent, I added a generous amount of tomato paste and continued to sautée all of it for a few minutes before dumping the entire contents of th pan in to the pot with the water (now broth) and meat.  I felt as though something was still lacking.  There were so many delicious flavors and textures roaming around in the pot, but I  wanted something more substantial.  With that I cubed up two or three medium sized Yukon potatoes and threw them in the pot as well.  After which, I added four bay leaves (ZOMG I know!  It’s so many!!!) and let the soup cook itself on low heat until it was time to serve.  In the meantime I got to bask in the homey aroma emitting from the large pot on the stove.  Thirty or so minutes before serving, I added fresh olives to the pot and let it finish cooking.

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I garnished the soup with some fresh sprigs of dill, a generous squeeze of a lemon wedge (as well as the wedge itself) and a dollop of sour cream.  This soup has it all: a savory base with the meat, sour with the lemon, gherkins and olives,  rich and creamy with the sour cream and a hint of fresh with the dill sprigs.  With the complexities contained in this soup, I don’t understand why borsch is solyanka’s constant rival.  Who says there is no diversity in Russian food?

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