A week and a year ago I posted a recipe for my Bacon and Egg Soup. Here it is again, back by request, with only slight modifications:
Bacon and egg soupThis one’s dated 26 January 2002:
1 lb. good bacon
1/2 C. chopped shallots
3/4 C. frozen spinach or collard greens
1/2 C. water
3 cans Campbell’s chicken broth
1/3 C. shelled chopped pistachios
3/4 C. fresh cilantro, loosely chopped
3/4 C. grated muenster cheese
several T. heavy cream, to taste
black pepper, sage, mace
2 T. dry sherry
1 packet unflavored gelatin (optional)
Chop the bacon and the shallots both small and fry them together in a pan until the bacon is crisped. Set them aside. Drain off all the grease except a little, and use that and the water to cook the collards until they soften. Turn off the fire and let your pan cool while you beat two or three or four eggs. If you only use two eggs, first sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin into your chicken stock. Beat the chicken stock into the eggs. Pour this into the pan with the collards and heat, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens. This will be sudden, so keep your fire moderate and watch closely. While you’re stirring, throw in the pistachios and cilantro, and season to taste with black pepper, a good pinch of rubbed sage, and a little mace. When the soup has thickened, turn off the fire and keep stirring. Add the crisp bacon and onions, and a little later the cheese, stirring the whiles until the cheese melts. Temper it up with sherry and cream and serve it forth.Further: You can also make this soup with leftover baked ham, and use the juices from the ham’s baking if you’re not on a low-salt diet. A very nice addition is queso de freir, also known as queso para freir, queso fresco, queso blanco fresco, and panela. It’s a crumbly white Hispanic cheese that doesn’t melt when you cook it. If you take a slice and fry it in a little oil, browning it on both sides, it’s like an entire slice of the little crispy bits you get around the edges of a grilled cheese sandwich. Take several of these browned cheese slices and use your scissors to cut them up into strips. At the last minute, throw them into the soup in place of the grated cheese.
One-of-those-days soup, using whatever’s in the kitchenThe next one is also process-oriented. It’s somewhere between a macedoine and plain old vegetable soup. Patrick likes it a lot.
Take a pot, put a couple of inches of water in it, and set it on to boil. Add a little salt.
Go through the vegetable drawer. Pare and slice three small parsnips, a celery-knob, and a double handful of baby carrots. Simmer. Pare, and cut into small cubes, half of a very large sweet potato. Toss it in with the simmering roots. Note for later the bunch of green onions in the drawer.
Rummage through everything in the freezer. Remove partial bags of frozen mixed vegetables, okra, and chopped red and green peppers, about a large fistful of each if you have big hands. Forget to use the frozen mustard greens, which would have been good. Note for later the bag of frozen uncooked potstickers.
Turn out the pantry cupboard. Come up with three cans of College Inn chicken broth. Toss one in with the cooking veggies, which are smelling good. Wash and add the frozen okra. Season with black pepper. After a while, toss in another can of chicken broth plus the mixed vegetables and the peppers.
Time now for those green onions. Clean and chop them and add them to the pot along with the last can of chicken broth. Adjust the seasoning. Adjust it still more with the last two fingers of Amontillado sherry, friend to soups.
Turn up the fire under the pot. Run a big bowl of hot water. Take a dozen and a half frozen uncooked potstickers and put them into the hot water to relax while the soup comes up to a good simmer. Fish them out and introduce them gently to the soup. Keep ducking their heads with the ladle for ten minutes or so while they cook.Ladle out into big bowls. Pretend you did it all on purpose.
Procedural vegetable soup
Put three fingers of water into a good pot, salt it a bit, and get it started over a low fire. Keep the water to a loose minimum, and keep the fire low.
Potatoes (if large and white, 1-3; if small and red, 4-6), cubed
a whole onion, diced, or if you’re flush the equivalent in diced shallots
1 large or 3 measly parsnips, scraped, sliced into thinnish rounds
carrots equal to 125% - 250% of the mass of parsnips, scraped & sliced
several stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
You only need one kind of potato. The onion is non-negotiable. Celery can be skipped if you have a lot of parsnips plus some Italian parsley. Wash them all, cut them in pleasant pieces, and toss them into the water in the order in which they cook. This lot all needs to go in early, as they’re going to become best friends.
This lot is optional but pleasant:
salsify, if you’ve got it
turnip, but not too much; say, 1/2 - 3/4 cup
gold but not red beet, cubed, 1/2 - 3/4 cup
winter squash, cubed, not to exceed a cup or two
leek, if your initial onion was small
Wash, peel, cut up, add. Skip the ones you don’t like.
one yam or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
a few fresh tomatillos, washed and cubed
1/2 - 1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, pistachios, or cashews
The yam makes it a little sweet. The tomatillos make it a little tart. They’re important. I wouldn’t want to do without either of them. If you’re using almonds or pistachios, blanch them first so you won’t have floating skins in the soup.
Keep stirring the soup. Very important throughout this recipe: don’t add any more water than you have to.
a handful of okra, cut up
frozen pearl onions, in a sane quantity
1/2 - 1 cup of sliced portobello or other nice mushroom
1 can of white shoepeg corn, or plain corn if it’s what you have
1-3 zucchini, pattypan, or yellow summer squash, or a mixture thereof
1-1/2 bell pepper’s worth of bell pepper, preferably in colors
broccoli, brussels sprouts, or cauliflower, 1 - 2-1/2 cups
sugar snap peas, snow pea pods, or frozen green peas, a cup or two
In that order.
The okra and mushrooms are optional. The pearl onions are nice if you’ve been modest when adding your other varieties of onion. If you’re using brussels sprouts, cut them in half lengthwise. It’ll be a different soup if you don’t have at least one kind of summer squash, one member of the cabbage family, and one sweet pea-related vegetable. This soup requires one of each sort.
Turn the fire down.
Adjust the salt and add a pleasant quantity of coarsely ground black pepper. Sprinkle on and stir in 1-3 packets of unflavored gelatin, unless you don’t want to. Three packets will give you a thick, glutinous, almost gooey soup—which is good or bad, depending on your preferences—and the leftovers will turn to vegetable aspic in the refrigerator. One or two packets are closer to the norm.
When the soup’s nearly finished, add a quarter- to a half-cup of dry sherry and a quarter to a half stick of butter. Stir gently until the sherry stops smelling raw. Serve with slices of fresh French bread (buttered or not) and a good chilled white wine.Randy Paul, come back and give me Mercia Maria Esteves Barbosa’s lentil soup recipe.
Everybody keep themselves warm and cheerful, okay? And remember: four out of five times when I specify a quantity, I’m half guessing. Adjust your math accordingly.