January is National Soup Month. Before it slips into the books, let’s recall a few of the month’s steaming pots here at the Nall-Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere:
Sweet potato bisque: I happened to be at the Russell Street Deli, an Eastern Market institution known for its spectacular soups, the week before Christmas, when this was on the menu. It was…mouth-gasmic. It fogged my glasses and my mind. I tried to consider what the “Top Chef” judges call its “flavor profile,” but my tastebuds were happy-dancing so, it was hard to get them to settle down and give some sober feedback. It had many of the notes of a sweet potato pie — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger — but was savory overall. I found a recipe online that seemed to come close, using buttermilk for the tang, and whipped up a batch. It was very good, but not as good as Russell’s. Three stars (out of four).
Curried butternut squash: An early improvisation, inspired by Mark Bittman. I make a version of this every fall, basically squash soup with curry and a tart apple thrown in the mix. For this, I left out the apple and added a can of coconut milk, and my friends? It was fabulous. I’m buying coconut milk every other week now. Four stars.
Cream of cauliflower: Another Bittman inspiration, brought on by the perennial January realization that I could eat a lot more vegetables if I tried. Sauté onion and garlic, throw in a whacked-up head of cauliflower, cover with broth, simmer to softness, puree and swirl in a half-cup or so of cream. Yum. Three-and-a-half stars.
Roasted garlic with white cheddar: I make this in the winter most years, but not for the last few. It’s an old Betty Rosbottom recipe, simplicity itself: Break up and peel two heads of garlic, cover with olive oil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes or so. Meanwhile, soften some leeks or onions or both, add a few potatoes, cover with broth, simmer simmer simmer, etc. When it’s soft, throw in the roasted garlic [EDIT: Remove the garlic from the oil first] and puree. Finish by stirring in a handful of grated white cheddar cheese. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread you can sop in the oil from the garlic roasting. Refrain from kissing for the rest of the night. Four stars.
Chili: Because if it’s winter in the Midwest, there will be chili. Everyone has their own favorite recipe. You don’t need to hear mine. Three stars.
No-cream of cauliflower and carrot: This was last night. I had a head of golden cauliflower teetering on the edge, so I made it the same way I did the other cauliflower soup, only I added a double handful of carrots and left out the cream and curry. Topped with some grated cheddar, cocked my shotgun, held it to the head of my daughter and forced her to choke down 10 spoonfuls or so, which she advised me were “gross.” Reader, it was not. It was delicious. Three and a half stars.
Note all the pureeing. You can do it in batches in the blender, but that’s a pain in the ass. Far better to spend $30 on what Emeril calls a “boat motor” and most cookbooks call an immersion blender. Mine broke last night, which seemed to be a fitting marker for the end of National Soup Month.
Although I will buy a new one this weekend. Because you really need an immersion blender. At least in our house.
Which takes us to the bloggage at the end of a cold but sunny week here in the Mitten:
You want to know why people hate lawyers? Try the NFL’s jerkishness in trying to stop New Orleans retailers from selling T-shirts and other merchandise featuring the fleur de lis and/or the phrase “Who dat?” One of my Facebook friends, Ray Shea, said it best:
The fleur de lis predates the existence of the NFL by more than two millenia. The fleur de lis has flown on flags over Lousiana for more than four centuries. Black and gold has been associated with the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club for almos a century. The phrase “Who Dat” is more than a century old and exists in recorded New Orleans music since the 1930s.
The NFL is granted a temporary non-exclusive license to suck my balls.
Ray is an old friend of Ashley’s, and won my allegiance to the Saints the night the team beat Indianapolis, and he posted, “Who dat pushing Manning’s face in the turf? WHO DAT?” Indeed. Peyton Manning is a guy whose face can never be pushed into the turf too often.
I just surfed through Memorandum to see what’s going on in the world of politics, and found this headline: Palin to Obama: Stop the fingerpointing. And with that, irony died once again and I officially declared the weekend under way.
So enjoy yours.