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January 2012 COTM: Essential Pepin: Soups and Salads

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about Soups and Salads.

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  1. If you have a cauliflower around and are in a soup mood, make the cauliflower soup. It's very flavorful and silken in texture. The little bit of curry powder lifts it amazingly. One of the best soups I ever made (and it was with a cauli that had seen better days, pared down to the good parts).

    2 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      Ditto. I tried this (p. 15) on buttertart's rec, and I've now made it three times. Yes, the curry powder (ordinary stuff out of a tin) really elevates it. Everyone I've served it to has loved it, even DH who is no cauliflower fan.

      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        Cauliflower Soup p. 15

        Made this tonight with madras curry and used skim milk instead of cream. A nice little first course.

    2. SEAFOOD GUMBO, P. 22

      No, I haven't made this, but I'd be very interested to hear what someone who may try it thinks. Tt may be delicious (in which case, who cares?), but I just don't see how this would be called gumbo, in these parts anyway. Pepin compares this to paella or cassoulet, but gumbo is more a soup, served with rice, not technically a one-pot meal. I've never heard of anyone cooking the rice in the gumbo. That sounds more akin to jambalaya.
      Ingredients also strike me as a bit odd: I can't imagine using Italian sausage in gumbo. Jalapeno pepper is also a strange addition, and while some people do use both file and okra, it's usually either/or (and in many cases, neither).
      Don't get me wrong: I'm not an authenticity cop, and gumbo is definitely one of those dishes that has as many interpretations as there are cooks. (For instance, my mom's and mine are as different as night and day.) It is definitely the subject of much disagreement and generally breaks into "cajun" and "creole" categories, but Pepin's recipe looks like none I've ever seen.

      6 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        You're right. Down here no one would consider it gumbo. I was aghast that he called it gumbo! Make it for what it is, but look elsewhere for real gumbo. Cook the rice in the gumbo!? Never. I serve a scoop of rice -over- my gumbo. Jeez.

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          I think that in general, Jacques tends to play a bit fast and loose with recipe titles. I think it's more of a riff or a starting point, and certainly his interpretation of a dish. His cassoulet is like that as well.

          1. re: roxlet

            I haven't looked closely at his cassoulet recipe, but I'll definitely take a look.

            1. re: roxlet

              I'm making his Thirty-Minute Cassoulet from Fast Food My Way tonight....report will follow as usual.

            2. re: nomadchowwoman

              Seafood Gumbo (or in my case, Gumbo of various meats and vegetables) p.22

              We're getting into the really long, dreary part of winter, and this gumbo sang out to me as the perfect remedy for the vitamin D-deficient-blues.
              Gumbo, Jambalaya, call it what you may; this soup was pretty darned swell. Having ventured no farther south than North Dakota (sad, I know), I am the last person in the world who would know the traditional ingredients or be able to list the differences between the two, but that didn't stop this recipe from being just what we needed.

              I did make changes according to what I had available. Reading the rice controversy above, I made a pot of the stuff to mix in as needed, as well as putting some in with the rest of the gumbo. I have never been able to find file powder in my area, so that was out, and a trip to the grocery store was unsuccessful in the hunt for okra. Never can find the stuff when I need it. Nevertheless, the rice did a good job of thickening on its own. For the broth, the seafood (fish and shrimp) is poached in water and removed. I had no fish, so I used head-on shrimp and simmered the peels and heads in a 1-1 ratio of chicken broth and water until flavourful. I amped up the garlic and tossed in some bay leaves with the veggies along with a generous splash of white wine. I used italian sausage, but think that spanish chorizo would have done a better job. I'll keep an eye out for andouille, but that's a long shot. Being a novice for the beautiful burnished roux, I was too timid to cook it to the deep mahogany that Monsieur Pepin desires; mine was dark walnut at best. I turned off the heat when my smoke detector went off for the third time.

              All in all, this was quite a winner. The spouse said that if a different sausage had been used, it would have been a 10. Not bad at all.

              I also thought that a hefty shake or two of louisiana hot sauce gave an excellent twang and brought all the flavours together beautifully.

              1. re: Allegra_K

                Wow! Good for you! You certainly made that recipe "yours"! I love to do that and Jacque would have as well.

            3. Sausage, Potato and Cabbage Soup (p. 32)

              This is not the kind of thing that normally yells out "cook me!" to me, but for some reason in this cold weather it did. I do love cabbage in a soup, so maybe that was it. I was worried that the family was going to find it bland and boring. Enlisting Lulu's help to make it of course got her to be a fan, but my husband called the soup "stinky" when it was heating up. Not a great sign. But then ... he loved it. And I liked it a lot. It's pretty much what you expect - a very simple but hearty yet healthy soup. He calls for mild sausage; I used hot turkey sausage. He says to peel the potatoes, I didn't. He calls for 6 cups of water; I added a vegetable bouillon cube. But I don't think of these as huge changes. You saute the (crumbled) sausage for about 10 minutes, add 2 sliced onions and green onions; then some potatoes and cabbage and water. Cook for 45 minutes and serve with crusty bread. We did, and we were really happy and satisfied. Not for company, but given ease and satisfaction, I'd do it again. Nice and low in fat with those turkey sausages too.

              7 Replies
              1. re: LulusMom

                This is on my menu for tonight so I was glad to see that you and your family liked it. My substitution for the sausages will be defrosted leftover Monte's ham from 150 Best American Recipes. I'll just chop up the slices... I think it will work. I would use chicken sausages as you did but alas none in the larder at the moment. Since your sausages were hot perhaps I should include red pepper flakes or Tabasco. I'm surprised at how often Tabasco pops up as an ingredient in M. Pepin's recipes.

                1. re: Gio

                  He likes his Tabasco! A good Franco-American. Lulu ate her soup with parmesan sprinkled on top. Neither my husband or I thought it was necessary.

                2. re: LulusMom

                  Sausage, Potato and Cabbage Soup Pg. 32

                  We made this soup last night and quite liked it. I did make the substitution as I said and the flavor of the ham was subtle. Instead of water I used home made turkey stock which I suppose changed the character of the soup but the flavor of the finished soup was not too rich at all. I never salt my stocks, preferring to adjust for seasoning as I use it. G said he thought it was very good but had too much cabbage. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing... but he did mention it. Eight oz. of cabbage is called for but I didn't weigh what I had since it was a small head of cabbage. We'll make this again.

                  Oh, and... ours was not "stinky", LLM... LOL

                  1. re: Gio

                    Kind of funny that it was the adult I was cooking for who made that comment, isn't it? I didn't think ours was stinky either.
                    Glad you liked it. Simple but really nice, huh?

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Oh yes... Very Nice. There's enough left over so I'll simply reheat it for Monday night's dinner and add any L/O vegetables from this weekend's meals. A fresh crusty bread would not go amiss here, I think. Thanks for reporting on it.

                  2. re: LulusMom

                    Sausage, Potato, and Cabbage Soup

                    Cold day. Hot, nourishing, easy soup. Can't go wrong with cabbage, meat and potatoes. I used chorizo, which gave the soup a mildly spiced smokiness, and subbed broth for the water. Because everything is so roughly chopped, the prep is extremely quick. As LulusMom said, not for company, but this is a do-again for those harried days when dinner is looming and pantries are empty.

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      I paid no attention to this recipe when when I got the book for Xmas, but after reading all your comments my mouth is watering and i will make it this week! Thanks everyone!

                  3. Garlicky Romaine with Croûtons, Pg. 40

                    A really nice and pungent salad, this. I omitted the croûtons because I served steamed fingerlings and didn't want two starches. I halved the recipe.

                    Garlic, S & P, grainy mustard, red wine vinegar, either peanut or corn oil.. I used peanut.

                    Wash tender romaine lettuce leaves and chop into small pieces. Combine with the dressing and Bob's your uncle. This salad is tangy and definitely garlicky, but oh so delicious.

                    This was great served with the fingerlings with cilantro relish and roasted spicy hot chicken sausages.

                    1. Onion soup Lyonnaise style page 13
                      I made this according to instruction. Loved the egg yolk/ port wine enrichment. The only change I'd make in the future - not so much bread. I think I'd just sprinkle a few croutons on top and skip the bread on the bottom of the bowl.

                      1. Dried and Fresh Mushroom Soup, p. 16

                        Since I had some button mushrooms to use up and everything else on hand, I decided to try this rather simple recipe, which is pretty different from other mushroom soup recipes I've tried.
                        You soak 1/2 c. dried porcini in a cup of milk for at least an hour, then lift out the shrooms and strain and reserved the milk. JP then has you cut and set aside enough of the 4-6 large mushrooms called for (I used about 10 med. lg. ones) into matchstick to equal 3/4 cup. The rest are chopped coarsely.
                        In a lg. saucepan, heat 1 1/2 tsp OO and saute 3/4 c chopped onion and a sliced small leek for a few minutes before adding the rehydrated porcini and remaining fresh shrooms, a potato, diced, a tsp of salt and 2 1/2 c water (since I had some frozen mushroom stock, I subbed that for 2 c water). Bring everything to a boil; lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes.
                        You then puree the soup and add reserved mushroom matchsticks. Bring to boil; stir in reserved mushroom milk, and serve immediately.
                        This soup was verly mushroom-y, not a real problem since mushrooms are a favorite food here. My subbing mushroom broth for most of the water probably accounted for some of the intensity. I still think broth would be better than just water, but if I made this again, I'd probably use chicken (or veggie) stock.
                        My main complaint with this soup is that it was pretty one-note. I wanted some pancetta or a parmesan rind, maybe a dash of cognac or sherry, to add some complexity. It's also not very appetizing-looking: a dollop of yogurt or sour cream with some chives or parsley, maybe a shake of paprika, sprinkled on top would greatly enhance its appearance.
                        The recipe says it serves four, but these would be very small portions. DH and I each had a (not large) bowl with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and there was barely a cup left.
                        In the final analysis, this was tasty enough, but I've several recipes for mushroom soup that I like a lot better.

                        1. Tomato, Red Onion, and Orange Salad, page 56.

                          Red onions are sliced, as are navel oranges. Tomatoes are chopped, parsley is tossed in. The salad is dressed with a mix of sherry vinegar, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. As tomatoes are not that great around these parts, even when they are in season, I used cherry tomatoes, which seem to maintain more flavor year around. I quartered the onion slices and halved orange sections, just for uniformity with the cherry toms. I used a sweet red onion, as the standard red onions we've been getting have been annoyingly hot lately.

                          This is a quick and easy salad, with bright, contrasting colors and flavors. It worked well with the chicken ballottine, but would be great with beef or fish also. I'll be happy to try it again in the late summer when we have a chance at better tomatoes.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              I made this one too, with some alterations, and liked it. I added a bit of lettuce along with the parsley, mostly because I had it, but I think I liked the varied textures it gave. I forgot to add the cherry tomatoes. I'm goingto make it again this weekend, adding the tomatoes and possibly tossing in some haricots verts, because I really like green beans in salad.

                          1. Celery soup, p. 15

                            This one jumped out at me because I really like celery, and it's so simple. Also I'd accidentally bought too much celery, and this was a perfect way to use some up.

                            My husband and I had it for lunch the other day, and both liked it. It's very creamy and a nice fresh flavor. The one change I made was to put it through a sieve after pureeing, because some of the bits of thyme were a bit sharp. It might have just been my dried thyme--next time I might use fresh instead, or crush the dried in a mortar and pestle before adding it.

                            I did add the noodles, but not sure they're really necessary. Without them the soup would make a nice first course. Adding them gives it a bit more substance, and I would think rice would work, too, or even some diced potatoes. Even with the noodles, it made a very light lunch--we had cheese and crackers on the side.

                            JP suggests using the same basic method with any vegetables you have--lettuce, carrots, etc. I may try a mix of carrots and celery next time, and will definitely keep it in mind for CSA produce come summer. i'm also toying with the idea of adding some chopped tomato, either stirred in at the last minute or as a garnish on top.

                            Given the simplicity of the ingredients (celery, onions, scallions, milk, and seasonings) I'll definitely make this again.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Cliocooks

                              Green beans are surprisingly good done this way as soup.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                Thanks Buttertart! Maybe I'll make green bean soup instead of tossing them into Saturday's salad, as I was planning!

                            2. Watercress Salad pg. 41

                              The only twist to this watercress with a simple oil and vinegar dressing is the inclusion of a little duck fat in the oil. It works!

                              1. Lentil and Barley Soup – p. 33

                                I love lentils and barley. mr bc also loves lentils but DETESTS barley . . . or at least he thought so!! I have to say, this dish really surprised me. No pre-cooking, no sautéing, no browning of meat. Just dump every single ingredient into a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer away. Yes, even the raw sausages…right into the pot, raw. As Ina says . . . “how easy is that”!!

                                Now, I have to come clean and tell you that my cooktop is on the fritz and I can only cook on high, (soon to be replaced in our reno) so I ended up dumping the boiling mixture into the slow cooker and simmering on low for 3 hours. I’ve pasted JP’s recipe below so you’ll see he has you puree some of the soup to thicken it. I made this ahead so when I pulled it out of the fridge two days later, it had already thickened up quite nicely. I did put the Bamix in the pot for about 5 seconds and that was enough to put this into a “stew-like” consistency.

                                We tasted this prior to deciding whether or not to top w the optional cheese and, determined it was rich and flavourful enough all on its own. This made for a wonderful weeknight meal. Mr bc, who is not a soup lover, went back for 3rds!!! Do give this a try, it’s terrific.

                                Here’s a link to the recipe: http://www.greatcooks.ca/blog/?p=137

                                1. "Caesar" Salad w/ Blue Cheese pg 41

                                  True confessions, the croutons were store bought, the anchovies were el-cheapo from a flat tin, and the blue cheese was the heel of a nice Stilton that made its debut, gulp, on the Thanksgiving dessert board. Still couldn't kill this salad, it was a very tasty riff on a Caesar. It will be in the back of my mind whenever I have a little bit of blue cheese to use up, or don't have an egg to make a "real" Caesar.

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: qianning

                                    OK... You just made my salad for Sunday night's dinner. I completely missed this recipe qianning. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

                                    1. re: qianning

                                      Yes, thank you - this sounds wonderful - and easy!

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        dead easy, and surprisingly tasty (blue cheese and anchovy aren't flavors i'd ever think to combine....learn somethin' new every day!).

                                      2. re: qianning

                                        "Caesar" Salad with Blue Cheese, Pg 41

                                        When Qianning says "dead easy" she really means it. I never would think of combining anchovies with blue cheese, though, but here the two work together very well. I used the romaine called for and added a handful of curly chickory leaves. (I'm trying to use up an enormous head of chicory so it's going to appear all week long...). The blue cheese came from Trader Joe's imported cheese case and was milder than usual, I thought, but went quite well with the other ingredients. The croutons were sliced from a loaf of whole wheat artisan bread from the Pawtucket RI farmers' market my daughter bought for us. Finally the anchovies were in oil which I drained before mashing with the garlic. Because I made salad for three instead of one as the recipe is written I used juice from an entire lemon. The salad was very nice indeed, sprightly and refreshing.

                                        The main dish was ziti with Mario Batali's Basic Tomato Sauce from his Molto Italiano book... preparatory to making his Osso Buco later today to celebrate International Day of Italian Cuisines tomorrow. The dish of the year is Osso Buco in Gremolata alla Milanese..

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Blue cheese and anchovies are a surprisingly happy marriage, aren't they? I make a blue cheese vinaigrette that has anchovies mashed into it. I'm often asked for the recipe, and people can never believe it includes anchovies.

                                          And thanks for alerting us to tomorrow's "feast day"--and helping plan my menu. If not osso buco, something Italian.

                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            Read more about IDIC here...

                                            Frankly, I had never heard about this but I even celebrate tying my shoes...LOL

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              Thank you--and as luck would have it, I found two pieces of veal shank in the freezer. Yay!

                                          2. re: Gio

                                            I'm devastated that I didn't know about tomorrow! Husband has made plans for us to dine with friends at a Mexican place (and I do love me some mexican food, but still - a food holiday, and I'll miss it???).

                                          3. re: qianning

                                            qianning and Gio, how do you think the "caesar" salad w/ blue cheese would be without the blue cheese? It sounds good to me either way, but I'm thinking the blue might overpower the pasta I'm thinking of serving it with. Thoughts?

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              LLM.. Then you'd be making a Caesar Salad... not a "caesar" salad.
                                              Go ahead.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  yep, i'd agree with that. although JP mentions a few other cheese variants to try, i was intrigued by the goat cheese option, but haven't tried it yet.

                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                    I feel like goat cheese would be less overpowering than blue. I love the heck out of blue cheese, but it can sort of take over a meal. I'll either do it without cheese, or with a goat cheese. Thanks to you both.

                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                  Made the "caesar" or caesar as Gio pointed out, without the blue and added a bit of grated parmesan. It was wonderful. Very flavorful but didn't take over the main. Lulu asked that we have it again and made us vote on it. Everyone voted yes.

                                              1. Carrot and Scallion Salad, Pg. 51

                                                Quite a different salad, this. Simple ingredients: carrots, scallions, garlic, cilantro, green lettuce leaves. All this with a dressing that packs a wallop. Salt, pepper, Tabasco, rice vinegar, curry powder, oil. The choice of oil is either safflower or canola... I used grapeseed. Mix the dressing then tip into a salad bowl.

                                                To make a salad for six you need a pound of carrots and two bunches of scallions but since we're only two here I reduced the amount of each to a mere 4 skinny scallions and 3 hefty carrots but kept the original amounts of the other ingredients. Additionally, instead of grating the carrots I used my favorite shredder... the one we bought for Grace Young month. I Love that thing.

                                                The procedure is really simple: Prep the salad makings then toss them with the dressing already in the bowl. Green lettuce leaves are arranged on each plate and the salad itself is placed on top of the leaves. I simply tossed everything together and served the salad in individual salad bowls. I must say that dressing is really pungent. It's quite flavorful and each contributes it's own distinct and exuberant attribute. G liked it for its zestiness. I OTOH thought it was a tad too strong.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  What kind of shredder is your favorite, Gio?

                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                    The shredder is one of Grace Young's favorites. It's perfect for shredding carrots and other like veggies. The other is a scallion shredder...




                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Ah, thanks--I have that Kuhn-Rikon tool, and it is great. I thought maybe there was something else out there, and , of course, I had to know!

                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        LOL NCW.. I know the feeling. We don't want to be left out of knowing about the latest Super Tool do we? Now, if I could only wrap my brain around a pressure cooker. My mother had one and it used to frighten the bajunggies out of me for some inexplicable reason.

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          Me, too. I'd never go near the thing. Of course, the fact that one had erupted at my g'ma's house (no harm to g'ma, but the kitchen required emergency treatment) didn't help any. Never mind that that was more than 60 years ago.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            60 years, hmmmmm? Don't ask how long it's been since I saw my last pressure cooker. But, my intrepid daughter and her boy friend have bought one. I must ask her if she uses it or just he. I'm certainly glad no harm came to your Gran.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              @ JoanN & Gio: I have the same pressure cooker issues. My aunt had one, and I remember that rattling and hissing part on top of the thing--scared the heck out of me. I hear they have evolved a lot since then-- but I still don't have one.

                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                When I was a child, there was a stain on our kitchen ceiling where there had been a pressure cooker explosion, an incident with a family friend I was too young to remember, but it made me nervous whenever I witnessed the rattling and hissing. I know objectively that the technology has completely evolved, but I haven't been moved to try one. I'm okay with long, slow braises and simmering beans.

                                                2. Beet Salad in Sour Cream Dressing, Pg. 50

                                                  Nice little zesty salad, this, especially if you love beets and lots of onions as we do. JP boils the beets but I roasted them: 425F/45min. Four large ones. While they're cooking slice enough onions Very thinly to yield 1 cup. Mix the dressing: sour cream (I used drained yogurt), cider vinegar, S & P and a bit of sugar, if, after mixing everything together, you think you need to. I think G used a scant teaspoon.

                                                  When the beets are cooked slice them in 1/2 inch rounds and mix together with the onions in your serving bowl. Pour the dressing over, mix gently, taste for seasoning, adjust if nec....and serve. So much fab flavor here. I used a large white onion which the beets dyed to a lovely deep cerise. The salad looked so pretty in a white bowl. This went very well with JP's brown rice pilaf. Good stuff. There's nothing left.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                      Mmmm, I second that Gio...we love the beet/onion combo and can imagine how lovely this looked w the creamy dressing. I've flagged this as a possibility for our Valentine's day menu.

                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        My decades-long happy marriage would be seriously derailed were I to put beets on the table on V-Day! ;-)

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          LOL bt!! Lucky for me, mr bc overcame his aversion to beets once I started roasting them. He seems to prefer most colourful veggies roasted for that matter. I guess the sweetness helps.

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            The sweetness is one of the things he doesn't like about them. Lost cause!!!

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              Ahh, but nonetheless, he's a keeper it seems!! ; - )

                                                  1. I made the Farmer's-Style Soup last weekend. Used the pancetta; water, not broth; no turnip (not a favorite veg); dried basil instead of fresh (it's January in Connecticut after all!); and added a small parmesan rind. On the first day, I wasn't crazy about it--seemed rather bland. Let it sit a couple of days in the fridge--wow! Steve and I had this twice for dinner this week--it's that good. Will make this again.

                                                    BTW, there's a marathon Essential Pepin going on right now on my local PBS, WLIW Create. I'm following along with the book.