Monday, December 8, 2008

Soup: A Love List

In an ode to love letters and grocery lists, here are 15 reasons (seasoned with one recipe) for which I am smitten with soup.

1. While it's not officially winter, it is officially cold. And soup, well, it's hot. It's the warm-cocoa-in-a-mug of nourishing meals.
2. Unlike cocoa, soup is further like tea; it knows no season. Or rather, it knows them all. While it warms in the winter it also glistens in the spring, satisfies in summer, soothes in the fall.
3. Soup is a white t-shirt and a slinky black dress. In a cup on a sick day, in a thermos for a quick lunch, in a white china bowl in a candlelit always looks good.
4. And what can't you put in it? Soup does not discriminate. Potatoes and ham. Coconut and chicken. Hazelnuts and mushrooms. Or, say...a bumpy pile of sunchokes.

5. Soup is easy. A handful of this, a sprinkle of that; add liquid and veggies, meat and seasonings, turn up the heat and you are your own chef; the soup's on.
6. Soup is comfortable. It is no hard shelled lobster. No fishy filet full of fragile bones. On a white tablecloth full of silvery silverware you can always find the soup spoon. A bowl feels good in your hands. A spoon, good between your lips.
7. Soup is sipable. Soup is slurpable.
8. It can be as simple or as complex as your time and tastebuds wish. Chicken and noodles or a melange of mysterious spices. If you're thinking sunchokes try shallots, sage, thyme and garlic.

9. Soup keeps you on your toes. It's thin and clear, smooth and thick, subtle and indulgent, chunky and nourishing. As many times as you've had it, it can continually surprise.
10. And continually change. You love clam chowder? A career could be made from tasting the varieties that simmer with people's secret ingredients.
11. So how wonderful is it then that chicken soup isn't always just chicken soup. Tomato bisque, not simply tomatoes and cream. A good soup is layered with flavors brewing just underneath the surface; to add some shazaam to your sunchoke soup, sautee andouille sausage with the seasonings before adding broth and veggies

12. And while it cooks, listen. Soup sizzles, hisses, beats and bubbles.
13. When its done, the more the merrier. No need to scrimp with soup; plunging a long spoon into a tall pot, it is satiating, even before the first bite, to know you're stirring a meal meant for feeding people you love.
14. Soup is the little dish that can. It stands alone as well as it complements a good salad, or teases before a feast. Try your sunchoke and sausage soup with a sandwich on crusty bread.

15. And best of all, soup has long arms. It leaves no one out and it squeezes tight. A fine she-crab bisque, or a campfire steak and potato stew, cabbage stock or broth with alphabet noodles, gumbo or puree of sunchokes, isn't soup something we all have in common?

Sunchoke Soup with Andouille Sausage

2 pounds sunchokes
1 medium to large link of andouille sausage*
8 medium sized shallots
3 cloves of garlic
4 springs of thyme, picked
1 T fresh sage, chopped
2 T olive oil
2 qt chicken stock

*in a pinch, anything slightly spiced and smoked will do!

1. Peel and chop sunchokes. (don't let the bumps scare you...just peel right over them, and if you loose a little flesh, no big whoop)
2. Slice sausage into 1/2 inch medallions, then chop slices to quarter.
3. In the bottom of a large stock pot, over medium heat, pour olive oil and sautee sausage, shallots, thyme, sage and garlic plus salt and pepper to taste. Heat until shallots are sweated and translucent. And when peppering, remember your sausage packs a punch! Pepper with care.
4. Add sunchokes and heat together for 2 min, stirring to brown lightly.
5. Cover with stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 45 min (or until sunchokes are tender).
6. Remove from heat. Let cool for about 20-30 min.
7. In a blender, puree half of the soup. BE CAREFUL! Hot soup in a blender has a tendency to get rowdy and explode out the top due to the prevent this, leave a small hole between the body of the blender and the lid (facing away from you!) and cover the top with towels to shield your hands from hot soup.
8. Pour pureed soup back into pot, stir.
9. Reheat to taste and serve.

approx 6 entree sized, soup lover servings


Tangled Noodle said...

You've perfectly captured all the reasons why I love soup!

Olga said...

LOVE reason #3