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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.

                    Dressing:
                    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.