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Nov 1, 2007 09:04 AM

The Silver Palate Cookbook: Soup’s On

November 2007 Cookbook of the Month: The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.

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  1. Today I made the Potato Cheese Soup. First I made some chicken stock, just the basic type with a cut up chicken plus chicken wings, carrots, celery, onions, parsnips, parsley and dill.

    I checked the recipe for Chicken Stock in the Silver Palate, but one of the ingredients was chicken broth, which seemed strange. So I just used my own recipe, if you can even call it a recipe.

    I made the Potato Cheese Soup as written, except I used 4 cups of stock instead of 5, thinking that if it came out too thick I could thin it out at the end. But I like the degree of thickness that it ended up having. I also used less cheese, 2 cups instead of 3. The directions call for pureeing the soup in the food processor, I'm assuming when this book was written immersion blenders hadn't been invented yet. But I used my immersion blender to puree the soup.

    The result? A great soup. Not too thick, but hearty. A good cheesy taste, but not too rich. The dill gives the soup a wonderful fresh taste that tones down any heaviness from the potatoes and cheese. This would be a great soup to heat up after work, especially since we in the US are changing the clocks back today. A slab of crusty bread, a salad and Potato Cheese soup. Yum.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Linda513

      I too wondered about the inclusion of broth in their stock recipe, but my sweety says even in culinary school she's seen that... I am making SP stock now (I'll post results in basics, but here too, since this is also the basis for so many of the soup recipes). I am omitting the broth from the recipe but following her recipe other than that.

      I ventured out in 60 mph wind gusts this afternoon in search of chicken necks... and I found them. I called my mother and told her I had three lbs of chicken necks in the car, and she said, "WOW."
      Anyway, I have been wanting to make my own chicken stock for a long time, but as a former vegetarian (almost ten years meat-free) I'm still much more of a veggie cook (I've made veggie stock several times) and I feel uncomfortable cutting up a whole chicken. Maybe I'll get there. Separating that mass of frozen chicken necks from each other certainly seems a step in the right direction.

      I make homemade soup at least once a week but I've never before made my own stock... so I can't wait to find out how it turns out. What an adventure!

      1. re: foxy fairy

        Good luck - one tip - if you haven't started yet - is to simmer the bones without the vegetables for 20 minutes or so and skim off the scum - once the scum stops appearing, then add the vegetables (a JC tip).

        1. re: MMRuth

          The SP recipe suggests browning the chicken parts alone first, in oil, for about 15 minutes, which I did... then I added the carrots and onions, then the herbs and liquid after that (I just added water, up to 2 inches above the chicken parts), removing scum for a 15-minute boil, then a 2-hr simmer with the occasional skim of scum. Ha, that sounds funny.

          1. re: foxy fairy

            I find that the herbs/vegetables get tangled up in the scum - which is which is why I like the JC suggestion - though I did it that way for years!

          2. re: MMRuth

            And a GREAT TIP. There's nothing more annoying than attempting to skim scum when bits of parsley and onion keep getting in the way.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I now add vegetables only at the last hour. When you make vegetable stock, says Deborah Madison, the vegetables have given up their flavor after about a 1/2 hour or so.
              So in addition to them getting in the way (particularly parsley and peppercorns) of the skimming, there's no good cooking reason to add the vegetables at the same time as the chicken.

        2. Tonight I made.... with a few variations, which I will delineate......White Bean and Sausage Soup on page 159.

          Here are my alterations and deviations:
          1. Instead of the red and green peppers...I chopped a head of escarole and substituted that for the red and green peppers.. Granted the taste deviation may have been huge... but I had that escarole which I wanted to use.... what can I say??.
          2. Omitted the parsley.
          3. Substituted turkey sausage with jalapeño for kielbasa.

          It was absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe precisely with the exceptions I mentioned above. So comforting.... crusty bread on the side..... I didn't even make a salad, which I intended to do. Perfect for a cold, rainy night in the wake of Tropical Storm Noel.

          Tomorrow......Fruit-Stuffed Loin of Pork, Pg. 105. ( I can't believe I'm cooking pork again!!!)

          1. I've made the curried butternut squash and apple soup for years. It is fabulous hot or cold. The recipe as written thickens up quite a bit so upon reheating I often add more chicken broth to thin does not compromise the taste at all.

            12 Replies
            1. re: tomaneng

              I just made the curried squash and apple soup. In a word: Blecchh!

              Okay, I didn't make as written. I love butternut squash, which is sweet and mild, but I had the following on hand and used: small kabocha, delicata and carnival. To cook, I roasted the squash so that I could get the %#@* peel off.

              I peeled and cooked the partially cooked squash w/ the apples and homemade vegetable stock, pretty much in accordance w/ the recipe.

              At the point where I would taste and question: does it need more salt? Does it need some vinegar to brighten the flavor, I found myself asking myself: do I want to eat this?? The answer was: No! The curry w/ the heartier squash is in a word . . . repulsive.
              There are lots better butternut squash soups out there. I thought the heartier squashes could stand up to the curry. But yuck.

              1. re: NYchowcook

                Hehe, I made the curried squash and apple soup this weekend too and pretty much had the same reaction as you. I followed the recipe closely, but knowing that my madras curry powder is pretty potent w/ an undercurrent of heat, I used 3 tsp. instead of the 5 called for. Well, that still turned out to be too much since the curry flavor totally overpowered the delicate butternut squash.

                I used a couple of fuji apples and found the soup too sour after I added the apple juice. The flavor balance was very off--so much so that I didn't even want to bother fixing it. I could have added more broth, maybe a dash of cream, maybe a pinch of brown sugar. But at the end of the day I knew that I still wouldn't want to eat it, so I dumped it down the sink. Too bad but that's how it goes sometimes.

                The concept of this soup is good but the ratios didn't work at all for me. I think 1-2 tsp. of curry powder and no apple juice would suit my tastes better.

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  That's really interesting, because I trust your skill and your palate, and yet, I've made that soup many times and it's always been delicious.

                  I think the whole recipe might hinge on the type of curry powder you use. I always use Chinese curry powder, which is very complex (there are 16 herbs and spices listed in the ingredients) but not terribly hot, so you can use the full amount and get flavor without too much heat. I've always found it verging on too sweet rather than too sour, but I don't remember what kind of apples I usually use.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Yeah, I think it very much depends on one's curry powder. I also don't think that my butternut squash was particularly flavorful or sweet, so the heat from the curry and the sour from the apple juice tweaked it too much.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I used Madras curry powder. After making the soup, to my palate, the whole concept of curry powder w/ squash seems off.

                      Butternut (and other winter) squash are so delicious on their own, that I would rather complement than compete w/ that flavor by using curry powder.

                      1. re: NYchowcook

                        For what it's worth, butternut squash soup with curry seems to be a pretty common combination. I don't know if they were inspired by this recipe, but there are many, many versions out there.

                        1. re: NYchowcook

                          as you probably know, madras is one of the hottest curry powders -- and probably the most potent spice-wise. curry powder, like garam masala, is a blend. some are mild.....and focus on different spice notes, according to one's own recipe.

                          when i was in high school, the only curry powder was that horrid stuff from mccormick's. if you don't make it yourself, at least get curry powder from an indian shop (i guess penzey's has too?)

                          ps-- just occurred to me: a little goes a long way. i don't know the recipe, but 5 TBS is a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT OF CURRY. To serve 6, i would add maybe 1 TBS in soup, after toasting the curry powder.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            Is madras really one of the hottest? I got mine from a Viet market and continue to use it because I like the flavor balance. I actually have a blend from Penzeys, the maharajah one, and don't really care for it much due to its "muddy" flavor.

                            The recipe calls for 5 teaspoons not TBS. I used 3 tsp which is equivalent to 1 TBS and still found that too much. I wonder what kind the SP ladies were using for their recipe. Bottom line: adjust the curry powder based on one's blend and taste preference.

                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              I was just thinking that the Maharajah curry powder would probably have been a better match for that big pot o' soup sitting untouched in my refrigerator.
                              (How to dispose?? I have a septic tank!)

                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                hmmmm... will have to investiagte further.... you got curry from a vietnamese place? well, the vietnamese are not known for their curry. i will go into my julie sahnii and madhur jaffrey cookbooks to get these things. the curries need to be tailored to your dish.... sometimes, you can use just a stock (quality) curry powder, but sometimes, you have to understand which particular spices work better with a particular flavor, li.e., squash, or carrot, chick peas, or whatever..

                              2. re: alkapal

                                You have to remember that this cookbook came out 25 years ago, so I would wager a bet that the "curry powder" they were using was the basic supermarket blend, which is definitely much milder than the more authentic and specialty blends now available. If the recipe called for "an apple," vs. an amount of chopped apple, today's bigger apples could also impact the outcome of the recipe.

                                1. re: DanaB

                                  Excellent point. I really think they must have meant that yellow powder that you find everywhere. Of course, even that stuff is better if you make it yourself. I used a recipe from Julie Sahni's vegetarian and grain cookbook. It was quite similar to that powder, and it worked well in the soup.

                    2. I'm in the process of making the Carrot Orange Soup now. Will post back later, but meanwhile, I'm tempted to add red lentils to it so that it will be richer. It's going to be pretty much the main course tonight (I've been off sick and there's not much food in the house), so that's my reasoning. I suppose I should just leave it alone because it doesn't seem altogether right to change a recipe drastically for this kind of exercise! What do you all think?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Kagey

                        You're probably done cooking, but it might be interesting to make the soup "straight" then take half and add the lentils. Then you could compare/contrast them!

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          That was probably a good idea, but in the end I went with the recipe and didn't add the lentils.

                          I cut the recipe in half, which called for 6 carrots. Turned out I had only 5 carrots and a parsnip, so I added that. And the immersion blender cuts out a substantial amount of the work! I must say that the soup tasted wonderful even before I added the orange juice and zest, and I could have been happy eating it just like that. But the orange made it really interesting and different. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different. I liked it a lot.

                          One other thing: the soup recipes call for cooking the onion for a really long time on low heat--about 25 minutes or so, till they go a bit golden and sticky. I admit I usually lose patience and just cook them till soft, but this time I let them go longer, and I think the flavor was definitely improved. I've learned my lesson about that!

                          1. re: Kagey

                            I made the Carrot Orange Soup tonight -- it's a keeper. I cut the recipe in half and used an immersion blender also. It wasn't as smooth as a blender would have made it, but my husband prefers soups with texture anyhow. He though the orange could be cut back a bit. I liked it as it was, but I can see how it might be more intriguing if the orange flavor was more suggested and less emphatic. So next time I make it, I'll start with half the orange juice and zest and taste as I add.

                            Even half a recipe made 4 goodly servings, plenty for a starter, so I'd say a full recipe serves more 6-8 as an appetizer, not 4-6.

                            The color is gorgeous.

                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                              I agree about the color! Also, after eating the leftovers, I think I made a mistake by including the parsnip. I'll have to try again without it, because I think it really changed the flavor of the soup, and I didn't think the orange worked so well with it in the end. I preferred the soup before I added the orange. Next time, I'll do it properly and see the difference.

                              1. re: Kagey

                                It's amazing how much flavor a single parsnip can contribute, isn't it? They look so innocuous.

                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                  Last week I made some chicken noodle soup and put a parsnip or two in the broth. We never put parsnips in our broth, so my wife swears it is not chicken broth!

                      2. Cream of Watercress Soup (p. 45). I was disappointed with this soup. Nothing really wrong with it, it just wasn't anything special at all, and in the end I felt like a waste of delightful cream. The peppery-ness of the watercress sort of got lost. One thing that I found weird in the writing of the recipe - it calls for 3 cups of stock; at one point it says to add the stock, but then later it says add more stock as needed. Probably just me being picky, but I feel like maybe it should say in the ingredients list that more might be necessary (and it definitely was). All this aside, my husband liked the soup more than I did, so it wasn't a complete bomb.

                        I'm planning to try the curried butternut squash soup next week. I have a friend coming for lunch, and I hope that soup is more successful than the watercress. It sounds from reading these boards like it is one of the best loved recipes in the book.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Re the "more stock as needed" direction: I noticed that with the carrot orange soup too. It took me a while to realize that what they meant was that after you strain the ingredients and puree the solids, add the stock back in as needed. I don't have the book in front of me at the moment, but that's what I understood.

                          Curried butternut squash is nice, but as I mentioned once before, I wasn't crazy about the sourness I got from the apple in it. I definitely would use a sweeter apple next time (I used a granny smith). Just an opinion!

                          1. re: Kagey

                            I don't have the book in front of me right now either, but I was thinking that if the apple is just a garnish, I can choose whether or not I want it after tasting. But from what you're saying, maybe it is actually cooked in with the soup. I'll go with the sweeter apple as you suggest - thanks for the tip. And thanks for explaining about the stock. I really think it needed *much* more than the 3 cups called for - the potato really soaks up a lot.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              I think you need to consider where you stand on the sweet/savory scale. I think the curried butternut squash soup can verge on being too sweet, so if you don't like savory foods with more than a hint of sweetness (and I see that a lot on these boards), you'd be better off with a more tart apple. Although I guess if it's too sweet you can add a little apple cider vinegar!

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                OK, good point. One of the things I've really laughed about in looking at this book is how VERY much fruit they use in stuff. All this raspberry and blueberry in savory dishes ... it seems really dated, doesn't it? My initial thought was to just leave the apple out altogether - any thoughts on that?

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Well, it wouldn't be the same recipe, as the apples are more than just a garnish. I'd say try it as written, and if you don't like it, chalk it up to experience. If you're worried you won't like it, you can always make a half batch.

                                  Your comment about all the fruit in the recipes being "dated" made me think how far we've swung the other way, with the trend these days being to use more savory elements in things that are traditionally sweet (salted caramel, herbs like thyme in ice cream, etc.).

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Exactly - in 20 years people will laugh at the idea of olive oil cakes, etc.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      oh no, I do not think people will laugh at olive oil cakes. Italians have been making them for decades/centuries(?).
                                      I believe Deborah madison has an olive oil cake in her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone cookbook.

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Good points there, but my issue wasn't sweet v. savory, it was the sour. I didn't like the sour hit the apple gave the soup. The sweetness of it was fine. But then, I like both sweet and savory!