soup


Back when I used to live in San Antonio (yes, in Texas), the small Mexican restaurants in town would serve homemade menudo during brunch hours on the weekends. Once my family discovered this soup, it quickly became a weekend favorite. After all, what is not to love about a rich, spicy, warming soup of hominy and beef tripe? At the time, though, I had no idea that menudo is supposedly a great cure for hangovers … which begs the question: did my parents sneak out to some fun parties while my younger self was sleeping soundly??

Although I do have a soft spot for menudo, I’m also not prepared to mess with cooking tripe at home, so I’ve been searching for alternatives. Then one day, at a little Yucatecan restaurant, I discovered pozole, a hearty, warming, green soup full of hominy and chicken. A while later, Nathan and I randomly stopped into a different little Mexican restaurant for lunch and there was pozole on the menu there too! But theirs was a different version, a rich, spicy, red soup full of hominy and pork (menudo-esque, if you will), and that’s the one we’ve been obsessing over ever since.

After some research, we learned that there are many different regional versions of pozole, roughly categorized into the three colors of the Mexican flag: green (verde), red (rojo), and white (blanco). For our beloved rojo, we eventually dug up two different recipes: one from Señor Bayless himself and one posted on Chowhound. Being the most indecisive people in the world, we couldn’t choose so ended up using parts of both of them. In a moment of insanity, we also decided to double the recipe and ended up with way more pozole than we could handle or even store. But then, that’s when you can count on your sister, friends (like Ben and Erin), and neighbors for backup, right?

You know, with Thanksgiving only days away, you might actually hear your leftover turkey bones and meat whispering ‘pozole’ to you on Friday morning (but not in a creepy way). I know if I do, you just might find me back at the stove again working on another giant cauldron of pozole, a green turkey one this time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Chilled Corn Soup

If you’re a Top Chef addict like me, then you probably already know from the title of this post that this is the dish that Jamie Lauren (of SF’s very own Absinthe) made during an episode last season that the judges raved about. Everyone loved it so much that she subsequently added it to the menu at Absinthe.

I have to admit that when I saw this episode, I was a bit skeptical that a simple soup, mostly of pureed corn, can taste so amazing that Padma declared it her favorite dish all season. So of course, I had to try it myself! And I didn’t even have to make the trip over to Absinthe when our weekly CSA gave us a sudden flood of sweet corn.

Thanks to Jessica over at Apples and Butter for scaling down the the original recipe to one that’s more reasonable for the home kitchen!

This soup is delicious and I totally get now why the judges and Padma kept talking about it. The cold creamy soup is perfect for a light lunch on a warm summer day (see how the soup is in a little plastic container above? It’s ready to take to work for lunch!). The little dots of chili oil supply a tiny and perfect bit of heat. Sadly, I didn’t have mint in the house, so I substituted for green onions instead. But I definitely plan to find and add the mint next time around.

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With the sudden appearance of sweltering summer days in the city, I’m finding it really hard to motivate myself to turn on the stove. Add to that a huge pile of work plus the adventure of trying to sell my car (long story short: it’s sold. And I even managed to not sell it to this crew of ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ kids who kept offering me $2100 when another guy already told me he’ll pay me $2200), and you’ve got one not-very-active blogger!

But now that the car’s sold and I’m sitting at home drinking echinacea tea while recovering from a cold (oh the irony!) and thus, not feeling too guilty about not doing actual school work, it’s time to share with you a recipe. This one doesn’t even require turning on the stove!

If you’ve been going to farmer’s markets lately, I’m sure you’ve been noticing the mountains of beautiful tomatoes everywhere. As we’re nearing the end of tomato season, Nathan and I have officially begun our annual quest to eat as many tomatoes as possible before they disappear from the markets. Orangette, in an article in Bon Appetit magazine, gave a recipe for oven-roasted tomatoes that I’ve been dying to try. But I’m going to wait until we get some proper San Francisco summer days again (read: foggy, windy, and chilly) before turning on the oven for multiple hours.

In the meantime, an icy cold gazpacho sounds like the perfect way to fulfill our tomato quota. When I did my gazpacho research, some recipes recommended using a food mill instead of a blender because you supposedly lose the bright red color if you use a blender. But if you know me, you know that I hate buying a piece of equipment just for a single purpose, so I decided to ignore all the warnings, pull out our trusty blender, and risk a not-so-red gazpacho. To help rescue the color a bit, I blended only half of the tomatoes and finely chopped the rest.

So what do you think? Is my food-mill-less gazpacho a red-enough gazpacho?

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Caldo Verde

Yay! Kale is here!

I’ve been awaiting the arrival of a big bunch of kale in our CSA box, just so I can make this soup. I first had caldo verde in Lisbon (‘ooo look at the world traveller…how globe-trotty are we’), where it was literally on the menu of every restaurant we went to. Finally, the last night at dinner, I wanted to see what the big deal was and ordered a bowl of caldo verde along with bacalhau, another Portuguese standard. Ever since then, this soup has been one of my favorites to make at home.

Caldo verde is really a very simple soup, where the creaminess comes from pureed potatoes. Actually, I find that I always prefer a potato-derived (or bread-derived) creaminess in soup rather than a cream-derived one. It may sound moronic to use something other than cream to achieve ‘creaminess’, but I like drinking a lot of soup and honestly, I’m not too fond of the idea of drinking a lot of cream. So I’m all for faux ‘creaminess’.

If you want to go vegetarian, you can of course omit the chorizo and compensate by adding more salt to season the soup. The final drizzle of olive oil when serving, however, is essential.

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delicata.jpg

Winter has definitely arrived in San Francisco. I conclude this not from any sudden changes in weather, but from the millions of holiday sale signs and the constant barrage of holiday jingles everywhere you go. My conclusion is also supported by the appearance of winter veggies in our farm box – winter squashes, sweet potatoes, leeks, etc. What? No kale?? That’s right – no kale yet! This makes me sad (I’ve been wanting to make a big pot of caldo verde for a while now) but probably makes numerous other subscribers happy.

In any case, with my kale soup visions as yet unrealized, I have to resort to other soup options. Roasted butternut squash soup is always a popular item, but since we haven’t received any butternut squashes, I figured any winter squash should work (I was right). The squash we got was a ‘delicata’ squash (also called sweet potato squash), which is pretty much like a pumpkin but sweeter and creamier. A quick roast in the oven, toss in plenty of ginger and spices, and you’ve got a soup that’ll warm you right up – perfect for those cold and foggy winter nights when one’s stuck at home working on one’s thesis (and by ‘one’, I really mean Nathan).

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