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November 2011 COTM: Gourmet II: Drinks, Hors D’oeurves and First Courses; Soups

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about drinks, hors d’oeurves, first courses and soups.

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  1. Roasted Tomato Soup with Rajas and Queso Fresco p.98

    This mildly spicy tomato-based soup has potential. It has few ingredients, so they must be top-notch. Perhaps that's where I went wrong. Tomatoes are blackened under the broiler, peeled, and pureed. I used a mixture of counter-ripened black cherry tomatoes and waxy, colourless grocery store tomatoes. Sad. (Can one char canned tomatoes? Those would taste much, much better than those pallid things that I bought. Maybe I should just stick with making what's in season.)
    Anyways, thinly sliced onions are sauteed for a short while, and garlic, oregano, and roasted poblano strips are added. The tomato puree is stirred in, thickened, and beef broth dilutes the mix. I cheated and used the already-made brodo that I had frozen for use in The Splendid Table recipes. The recipe says that you can use store-bought broth, but that sounds like a great idea only if you like tinny, salty soup. Again, so few ingredients here. Queso fresco is crumbled into the individual bowls, and voila!
    I tested the soup when it was done, and decided that I wasn't fond of the strips of onion and chiles in there, so I whirled in the immersion blender for a moment. My poblanos were actually spicy. Go figure. They never are any other time. My husband thought the soup tasted like a salsa, and treated it as such, dipping his tortillas in here and there.
    I thought that the soup was slightly hollow tasting. Homemade beef broth would be the way to go. The tomato flavour was also one-dimensional, and next time, I would stir in just a bit of tomato paste to round it out.. I enjoyed the queso fresco in the soup, but also added a dollop of crema, which gave the dish a creamier, more satisfying texture.

    1. Minestrone p. 106

      In looking through the soup recipes it dawned on me that I had never made minestrone before, so I took this as the perfect opportunity to do so. I’m so glad that I did! This was enjoyable to make on a leisurely Sunday afternoon. I neglected to soak the beans (cannellini for me) overnight so I used the quick-soaking method. This gave me time to chop all of the vegetables. Pancetta is cooked until crisp and pale golden, then onions are cooked until softened, next carrots and celery are sauteed, then potatoes, zucchini and green beans. Lastly, the cabbage and lacinato (Tuscan kale) is added to the mixture until wilted. My 5 QT dutch oven was very full. It took me a while to wilt the cabbage and kale without it overflowing. The next time, I will pay better attention and use the 6-8 quart pot as suggested. Once wilted, tomatoes and chicken stock is added and the soup is covered and simmered for 1 hour. Half of the cooked beans are pureed with the reserved liquid are added to the soup along with the other half of the whole beans. Simmer 15 minutes, season with s&p and serve with grated parmesan.

      I initially thought that there was too much oil and pancetta, but the end result was so wonderful . The pancetta added a nice depth of flavor. I loved the different textures and flavors the vegetables gave the soup. The addition of parmesan helped finish it. I also added pesto to the soup one night. Yum. I made this with boxed chicken broth nd can only imagine how much better it would be with homemade broth. I loved the addition of potatoes, but could easily see making this without potatoes and adding pasta instead. Many possibilities with this soup, all delicious.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BigSal

        That kind of soup is well served by throwing in a Parmesan rind if you have any hanging around.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Yes, thanks for mentioning that. I forgot what a lovely addition the parmesan rind was to the White Bean and Tuscan Kale Soup with Chestnuts from Gourmet Today.

      2. Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach, p. 112

        This is a straightforward recipe: Saute onions in vegetable oil (I used grapeseed), then stir in garlic and fresh ginger, followed by curry powder and ground cumin, add lentils, stock, and water, bring to a boil, then turn down, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender. I don't know that I've ever cooked lentils completely covered before. This led to the regular brown lentils being done a bit quicker than with other methods (about 20 minutes), and, as you might expect, kept the liquid from reducing much (see comment below for caveat re the latter). Once the the lentils are tender, add chopped, drained canned tomatoes and chopped spinach (I used more of both than called for in the interest of adding vegetables to my dinner) and cook until spinach wilts, then season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice (I used lime).

        Overall, I thought the flavor was good but a bit watered down, because there was too much liquid; as noted above, it didn't reduce much at all because the pot was covered. I prefer lentil soup thick, not brothy, and I would recommend using a cup less water than called for. I served the excellent cheddar and scallion drop biscuits on p. 597 alongside; report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8151...

        11 Replies
        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Pot Stickers p. 611

          In our house, this dish is known as yaki gyoza. I usually make this with my mom when she comes to visit. Today was the first time by myself. This recipe was very similar to our regular recipe except for the dipping sauce and that both sides of the gyoza are crisped.

          Cabbage (I used leftover savoy instead of napa) that has been salted and squeezed to remove moisture, ground pork (I used 8 oz instead of 6 since that is what I had defrosted), garlic chives, sesame oil, soy sauce, sake, corn starch, ginger and garlic are mixed together. One throws this against a bowl to compact it.

          Next one fills the wrapper with the pork filling (I used 2 t instead of the 1 t in the recipe) and seals it shut. The edges are moistened with water with the tip of your finger. Typically I just seal them in a half moon shape, but I was feeling ambitious today and made some with pleats.

          Next fry the gyoza in a nonstick pan until golden brown then add water and cover until the water is evaporated. Turn the gyoza (recipe does not indicate to turn the gyoza, but it made sense to do so), add more oil and cook uncovered until crisp and golden brown.

          This was meant to be served with a sauce of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and Asian chili paste (I used Lan Chi's garlic chili paste). Although I thought I was going to love this sauce, after tasting it, I resorted back to my normal gyoza sauce (rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and rayu (spicy sesame oil)). Both the Mr and I were very pleased with this dish. We ate this with Japanese white rice and Dunlop’s Mapo tofu. Delish!

          1. re: BigSal

            That sounds terrific! I love gyoza. I do need to replenish my stock, so this may be in the near future....
            What did you think of Dunlop's Mapo tofu? That dish was a revelation to me, I tell you!

            1. re: Allegra_K

              I really enjoyed Dunlop's version of Mapo tofu. I'm not sure why I haven't tried it until now, but am now officially hooked.

              1. re: BigSal

                That recipe is as close to perfection as it's possible to get. Cannot wait for her new book to come out.

            2. re: BigSal

              That really does sound good, and you've even made it seem almost effortless. You have inspired me to try them.

              1. re: LulusMom

                LLM,

                The wrapping is the most time consuming, but once you get into a rhythm it is very relaxing (you can go on autopilot for a while). Once the gyoza are wrapped it really is effortless. LuLu could help fill or seal the dumplings or both. It's a great bonding food. Making the gyoza without my mom made me miss her - good thing she's visiting next week. Instead of pork, I have used ground chicken or beef as the protein. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did. If my husband can figure out his new camera, we'll get pictures up.

                1. re: BigSal

                  Sometimes I like those autopilot jobs (for instance, I actually enjoy washing dishes by hand most of the time - go figure). And having Lulu help - brilliant! She'd feel like a culinary star. And thanks for mentioning about having used ground chicken, I was planning on using ground turkey. I will go with the dipping sauce you mentioned above - not the one in the book.

              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach, Pg. 112

                We made this soup last night and heeded Caitlin's advice about reducing the liquid. Also, I added more vegetables to the soffritto. Along with chopped onion and garlic I included 1 medium sized carrot-diced, 1 celery rib also diced, and left over diced roasted potatoes; used fresh tomatoes instead of canned and omitted the lemon juice. The various seasonings were increased as well. I served the soup ladled on top of a buttered slice of Italian bread. Loved it with the cumin and hot Madras curry powder and will make it again.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  I made this last night and we quite enjoyed it. Not a knock-out, by any means, but tasty and healthy. I agree with Caitlan that this needs a touch less broth although to be honest I have no idea how much chicken broth I used as I tipped it in semi-frozen. I also used red lentils, which thickened the soup nicely, and a whole bag of baby spinach.

                2. Kale and bean soup - not sure of the page -- maybe p 89 or so.

                  White beans are soaked. When ready to cook, saute coarsely chopped onions, add chopped garlic, and chopped rosemary with the beans and water and stock. Throw in a parmesan rind if you have one. After about 50 minutes, add chopped carrots, and Tuscan kale along with some additional water and salt. Cook for another half hour or so. There is an option to add some sautéed sausages, but we chose not to. I served it with grated Romano.

                  This was absolutely delicious, and the centerpiece of our meatless Monday meal. This will be put in frequent rotation.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: roxlet

                    Kale and bean soup -- p. 108

                    Had a bag of baby lacinato kale in my fridge which was either going to get eaten tonight or thrown out so that led me to this recipe. Prep is as described by roxlet above. We added the sausage (smoked bratwurst from our last trip to Mammoth) but chose to heat it up in a separate pot of broth in case it proved too overpowering. This was a good call because the brats were delicious on their own but I think their smokey flavor would have completely changed the character of the soup. Would be excellent with a slice of crostini and a glass of white wine.

                    This is the first and probably my only recipe I will be making out of this month's COTM selection. Way too many recipes for me. Too bad, cuz I can see there are a lot of great ones, I just don't do well with this massive of a book. I am cooking a lot this month though. I am teaching a Shabbat dinner series and this Sunday my supper club is making 6 recipes out of The Cheesemonger's Kitchen ( a new release I bought on sale through TGC). Also testing out recipes for Tday is keeping me preoccupied.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      Kale and White Bean Soup (p. 108)

                      My turn at this soup this past Saturday, even though we're not exactly having soup weather here. It didn't matter--we loved it even . I stayed very close to the recipe, which roxlet has already described. I didn't opt for the sausage version, but did add a small end of a ham shank to the mix. For the stock, I used The Splendid Table "brodo" from the batch I made last month, and I'm not sure if that accounted fully for the wonderful flavor, but I'm sure it contributed. My carrots seemed very large, so I only used four, diced. I topped our bowls w/ sprinkled grated parmigiano and a swirl of fruity olive oil. To my husband's I added a handful of bacon fat croutons to compensate for the meatlessness. But that wouldn't have mattered as he found the soup very satisfying, even without meat. Small victory!

                      Hearty, healthy, delicious: I'll be making it again--but not for a while as the recipe made four quarts, so we've got plenty in the freezer. I'll probably halve the recipe next time.

                    2. The curried carrot and coconut soup I have made time and again. I always eat it hot and not cold, though.