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January 15, 2004

Recipes to raise your core temperature
Posted by Teresa at 11:27 PM *

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 soup

1 lb. good bacon
1/2 C. chopped shallots
3/4 C. frozen spinach or collard greens
1/2 C. water
2-4 eggs
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.
This one’s dated 26 January 2002:
One-of-those-days soup, using whatever’s in the kitchen

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.
The next one is also process-oriented. It’s somewhere between a macedoine and plain old vegetable soup. Patrick likes it a lot.
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
green onions

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.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Recipes to raise your core temperature:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 01:18 AM:

IJWTS that among the many ways in which I have lived a charmed life is the fact that I was brought up by a genius-level cook, and also managed to marry one.

#2 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 02:07 AM:

"I just wanted to say" has a 'net acronym?

I need to figure out a way to play with this soup so that both myself (the vegetarian who doesn't like bacon or chicken stock) and my girlfriend (the carnivore with a deadly allergy to egg whites) can try it.

My part's easy enough-- I can just prepare the bacon on the side and only slide it into hers (though I'll keep the shallots), and sub vegetable broth for chicken in my pot. But how could I thicken up her eggless portion, short of more gelatin? Would more cream do the trick? Too much cheese will also elicit an allergic reaction-- it's something she has a limited tolerance for, so I can't just go heavy on that.

Dammit, now you've also got me thinking about soy-bacon, something I swore I'd never touch with a fifteen-foot cavalry lance.

#3 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 02:54 AM:

Two days ago I swore there would be soup. (My previous low-carb soup standbys were badly dented when I also swore off dairy.)

I thawed a quart of beef stock, and about half of the meat from the shank that went into the stock. Added a can of tomatoes.

Not-quite-diced an onion, and caramelized it in olive oil. Added the above, and two smallish turnips, quartered. Had mushrooms, was lazy, decided against. Simmered until the turnips were tender.

Lots of salt and pepper made a feast. Were I to do it again, I'd peel those turnips and add a couple of carrots.

I'm tempted to try the bacon and egg soup sans dairy.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 07:38 AM:

Scott, I don't think there's a way to make that soup for a vegetarian, or for a carnivore with one of the really serious egg allergies. It's all built around bacon and eggs. Try the vegetable soup instead.

#5 ::: Sue Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 08:19 AM:

Do like the look of the Bacon and Egg soup, Teresa, have to work on scalling it down, bit much for one... (plus cat but he shouldn't really have such things).

My favourite soup is Guilia De Cesare's Butternut Squash, mostly because it's so easy.

Fry a couple of onions in a big pan in a little butter untill nicely golden. Add a couple of pints of stock (or water if no stock in freezer) chicken stock works well. Peel and cut up some Butternuts - two or three depending on size of pan and poach in stock untill dissolved. Add small tub of single cream (or large amount of double cream if on Plokta diet) bring back to almost boil and add a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Serve with an extra dash of cream.


#6 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 08:21 AM:

Potstickers? Potstickers??
The name sounds like some sort of Wettex(TM).
I assume they aren't related to stringhoppers, tho' you could use those in a similar way.

Will store these receipts up for our cold weather.

A Question: Just what does doing eggs "over easy" entail? Poached on both sides? Fried on both sides? Or elsewise?

There is a series of questions we get in quizzes, which is to translate foreign names of fruit & vegetables. From memory, cilantro is coriander.

When you say 'shallots', are you talking spring onions - cylindrical green leaves like large chives with things-that-turn-into-onions-eventually under the ground, or french-type shallots, which look like a cross between garlic cloves and brown onions? We use both, which can be confusing. All part of the big onion/garlic family

BTW, the first-ever entry on my blog is a salad recipe I'd thrown together that day.

#7 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 08:55 AM:

Potstickers: generic slang term for various types of small Oriental-style dumplings, sold out of grocery-store frozen-food cases.

Eggs "over easy": correct, fried on both sides. As opposed to "sunny side up."

I'll leave the nuances of "shallot" to Teresa.

#8 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 08:58 AM:

I just wanted to say" has a 'net acronym?


#9 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 09:21 AM:

Those look really good.

I've just posted a couple of soup recipes to my LJ,

#10 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 09:27 AM:

Mmm, Bacon and Egg Soup looks good. Looks low-carb, too -- I'll have to run it through MasterCook when I get home and see what the numbers are.

#11 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 09:32 AM:


Two ways to thicken a soup not involving gelatin are to make a roux - warm some butter or oil and stir in an equal amount of flour, cook gently and add in to the soup - or add the flour when you initially saute onions/bacon.

or - mix a little cornstarch in cold water ~teaspoon starch to 1/4 c water to thicken a
quart or so of soup) and stir this into gently boiling soup.

My family's favorite winter soup is my bean and sausage soup with smoked sausage or kielbasa.

Saute 1 large onion with a couple cloves of garlic and a couple bay leaves in olive oil. Add some roughly chopped red, yellow or green pepper (I use whatever I've got on hand). Add 1 lb of sliced sausage.

When the onions are transparent add 1 can each of white, (or navy or cannelini), kidney, black or pinto beans or soaked dried beans. And 1 large can of tomatoes, roughly chopped, 1 bottle of beer, and about a quart of water. Simmer for a couple hours and throw some chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper in at the end. winter heaven!

(this works fine as a vegetarian version by just omitting the sausage.) I use carrots, celery or mushrooms if the mood strikes me.

#12 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 10:22 AM:

Potstickers are generally known in Boston as "Peking ravioli" for whatever reason. Gyoza is probably a more useful term for these. Trader Joe's has a nice line of various fillings in their frozen case, or try a local Oriental food market.

#13 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 10:24 AM:

at our house, we eat a lot of accident soup: put chicken bones, pan juices and the trimmings and peels from all your vegetables in a big ziploc in the freezer. Dump in pot of water with the herbs of your choice, usually dill, basil or sage or some combination thereof around here. Boil for hours and hours and hours, refreshing water if necessary. Strain. Use for stracciatella or elbow noodle soup. Freeze the rest for sauce base.

#14 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 10:26 AM:

"shallot" = any onion that happens to be floating past the window.


#15 ::: --kip ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Our favorite soup at the moment is still a tricky one for me to get right every time: egg-lemon. Start off with your favorite broth (garlic! Chop up a whole head of garlic while you put 6 or so cups of water or vegetable stock if you've got it on to boil; start the garlic simmering in oil at the bottom of a soup pot and toss in a couple of cubes of veggie bouillon if you're lazy and just using water; then pour the boiling whichever into the pot. Add thyme, paprika, sage, salt, and pepper to taste). While it's steaming up the kitchen nicely, beat three eggs with the juice of one lemon. Throw some cooked rice or uncooked orzo into the broth at some point for body and variety. About ten minutes before dinner time, ladle up some of the broth and mix it in with the eggs and lemon juice. Get enough in there to warm up the eggs so that when you pour the egg-and-lemon-and-broth mixture into the soup pot, the eggs don't immediately start cooking and turn into egg-drop threads. You want a nice, smooth, creamy pale yellow soup. Garnish with lemon slices, some dill is nice, a stolid, unpretentious red wine, and thick slices from a nice ciabatta loaf. Yum.

#16 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 11:27 AM:

I can92t be the only person who thinks 93salsify94 looks like a verb.

#17 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 12:05 PM:

Avram: I can92t be the only person who thinks 93salsify94 looks like a verb.

No, you're not; and I'd like to add that one of the best things about Making Light's readers/participants is that you can make observations like that here without people looking at you funny.

#18 ::: Barb ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 12:14 PM:

Tabasco sauce. Add a few dollops of tabasco to the vegetable soup recipe. Does marvelous things. You have a much richer supply of veggies than I, but I use either a browned roux or some (dare I say it) instant mashed potatoes for thickening.

#19 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 12:26 PM:

My mother's picadillo soup (a good fast way to use leftover hamburger or plain ground beef):
In a good soup pot, sautee a couple of cloves of garlic and an onion (both chopped fine). Add ground beef and a small can of tomato sauce. Add water to cover plus one inch. Add a bag of frozen vegetables, preferably something with green beans (if you are short of the frozen stuff, head for the cans). Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until warmed right through. Noodles are prepared separately so that the non-Atkins types can have it.

Now, lentil soup involves going to the latin grocery and getting pig knuckles....

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 01:43 PM:

You don't need to add a roux or mashed potatoes to the vegetable soup, not if the potatoes go in first and you add as little liquid as possible while it's cooking. On a good day, the liquid from the can of shoepeg corn is enough.

Scanting the water is an important feature of this recipe. The trick is that the vegetables throw off liquid while they're cooking, especially the tomatillos and zucchini, and you wind up with a rich concentrated vegetable stock. It's really good. Strictly speaking, you don't need to thicken this soup at all -- if you do this right, the proportion of stock to soup is as interstitial cake to fruitcake -- but I like to add a little gelatin to give it a slightly more glutinous mouth feel. The gelatin doesn't mask the flavor of the vegetable stock the way flour would. If I couldn't use gelatin, I'd add one more red potato at the beginning, and I'd grate that additional potato instead of cubing it like all the rest.

BTW, a cook is sovereign in his or her own kitchen -- but I feel about tabasco sauce in my vegetable soup much as you do about J____ putting ketchup on your poached salmon.

#21 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 03:28 PM:

This soup is a winter favourite of mine. I suspect bramleys are the best type of apple to use, but I don't know what's available in the states...

Bacon, Lentil and Apple soup - Serves 3-4, but freezes well.

150g smoked streaky bacon (I find the thin-sliced stuff crisps up best)
150 g red lentils
1 cooking apple, skinned, cored and roughly chopped
~3 carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (you guessed it... roughly)
25g butter
bay leaf
salt and pepper
1L veggie stock (from a stock cube is fine)

1: Cut the bacon into strips about an inch long, and fry in the bottom of a largeish saucepan until crispy. Remove and put onto a plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Any crispy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan are good - they add to the flavour.

2: Add the onion and the butter, and cook over a low heat for 5 mins with the lid on, until they soften.

3: Add the apple, carrots, stock, and lentils. Drop in the bay leaf. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer with the lid half on for ~30 mins, or until everything is tender.

4: If you really want to, you can blenderise the soup now - remove the bay leaf first! I prefer the chunkier texture, just mashing it with a potato masher. Season with ground pepper and if you must, salt. Pour into bowls whilst piping hot, garnish with the crispy bacon bits (you didn't eat them all aready, did you?), and serve with crusty homemmade brown bread and butter.

#22 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 04:29 PM:

Shallots are that brown, oversized-garlic-looking bulb that has it's own flavor, not garlic, not onion. Reddish when you peel the brown skin off. Scallions are a fancified term for green onions or spring onions or whatever.

#23 ::: Alex Bier ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 05:07 PM:

Potato and leek soup:

chicken stock
heavy cream

Peel and cube the potatos--use whatever kind you like. Yukon Golds are nice, so are the Red Bliss. Chop up the leeks (greens too!) and rinse all the sand out of the bits. Put them in a pot with almost enough stock to cover them and start simmering. When the veggies are cooked, mash them up or use one of the little hand-sized blenders to puree the soup in the pot. Add the heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

There aren't any quatities because my mother didn't use any set quantites either. The amounts of potato and leek should be roughly equal, I guess. Freezes well too.

It tastes far better than you'd think something so simple would--the heavy cream gives a mouth feel like velvet. I suspect the chicken stock could be substituted with a veggie stock successfully, but I have very little experience with them.

#24 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 06:54 PM:

I've been doing a lot of minestrone recently, following Nigella Lawson's 'a little bit of this, a little bit of that' recipe exactly to the last detail (Not Like Me) because we love it so much. I've got it down to 42 minutes of chopping and stirring, proceeding with all due speed.

But this is our primary trivial family soup (every family needs one of these; almost no work and joy, a big vat of soup that everyone likes); sweet potato and tomato. You microwave some sweet potatoes, which keep for ages especially if you're using them for something as forgiving as this. (I peel and chop them, but if you prefer to cook them in skins & scoop them out that works too), and while they're cooking you chop and fry some onions until just before they start browning and then add a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes. You then fry for a few minutes more. Once the sweet potatoes are done you tip them (no skins) into the mix along with a stock made with boiling water and a beef OXO and some Marigold vegetable stock powder and bring to the boil. You then get your soup whizzer, which plugs into the other socket right by the cooker one, and pulverise your soup till it's smoothish. And then season it, and serve it with a pile of chopped parsley and dabs of yogurt. And good bread.

The real version of this included some amounts, I'm almost sure, and real beef stock and fresh tomatoes not tinned. It boils the sweet potatoes rather than microwaving them, and it mashes the entire soup through a sieve at the end to get a much smoother texture. But even the book I got it from admitted to the everyday version, in a way that made it clear the author cooked it for her family all the time and couldn't bear not to put it into a book that was, for the most part, about much posher soup.

While on the subject of food. If a US recipe calls for three tablespoons of chili powder in a baked pasta dish to feed six, and there's no other reason to suppose they're chili fiends, what spice does she actually mean? Could this be proprietary chili seasoning (which would make sense as the guts of the dish was pasta, tomato and mince), or is it more likely to be paprika? It's a sad tale; Steven cooked it, and put 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (we use a good UK Asian brand of cayenne pepper) in it, reckoning that surely cutting down the recipe by 95% would be fine?

The result was just hotter than mild for him, and as hot as I wanted to eat a dish that I wasn't accompanying with yoghurt, and far, far too hot for the kids. My general rule of thumb is to put no more than a pinch into low-fat food, rising to 1/4 tsp in, say, a fatty curry, for the four of us.

#25 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 07:23 PM:

Indeed, proprietary chili seasoning was likely the intended ingredient. That sort of thing is generally a lot of cumin and paprika, with some oregano and actual powdered chile pepper in smaller amounts.

#26 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2004, 07:59 PM:

Oh. My. Thank you, Teresa, and everyone else besides. So good to see a community that Understands bacon's place in the kitchen.

#27 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 12:13 AM:

PNH: Potstickers: generic slang term for various types of small Oriental-style dumplings, sold out of grocery-store frozen-food cases.

Christopher Davis: Potstickers are generally known in Boston as "Peking ravioli" for whatever reason. Gyoza is probably a more useful term for these.

I do not speak or read Chinese (any version), so I've had to take someone else's word that the Chinese name (sometimes ~rendered as "guo ti'eh") actually \means/ "pot stickers" -- which would make sense as they're flat-bottomed and normally served scorched on one side. (They're more appetizing than that sounds.) It's a widely-used term -- the only meal I've eaten in San Francisco's Chinatown was at a place called the Pot Sticker. "gyoza" I've only seen used for the Japanese version, with a much thinner skin around a smaller bit of filling. Both are a ~circle of dough pulled up on both sides, crimped in a single seam, and bent into shallow crescents, around a bit of ground meat. (I'm sure somebody has made them vegetarian; I've just never seen them.) So they're in the same family as ravioli, but more like tortellini. (Sometimes the geeky details just spill out when I'm not sleepy and should be.)

Teresa: have you tried freezing the bacon-and-egg soup? (Has Patrick ever given you the chance?) It sounds good to me, but I've been told I'd have to finish it (twist my arm a little harder) and I'd hate to spend the time on a cut-down batch -- I was brought up to cook but have gotten very lazy.

#28 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 01:36 AM:


"Picadillo soup"? But, but... no vinegar? No raisins?

#29 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2004, 06:02 PM:

query: Teresa in one recipe you call for College Inn chicken broth and Campbell's in the other. I was wondering why?

should also mention how much I enjoy the site - been lurking for a long time and rarely post.

#30 ::: catbird ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2004, 03:40 AM:

Tried the Bacon and Egg Soup for dinner this evening. It was rich and savory, with lots of textural interest from the shallots and pistachios. On the downside, the broth didn't thicken or seem well integrated with the solids -- maybe three eggs is not enough? or perhaps the pan was too hot, since the egg scrambled slightly when I poured it in. Also, I am a bacon lover from way back, but a whole pound? I used half a pound and it seemed like plenty. Also, the cilantro was a bit jarring to my palate. Opinions at the table were mixed: one "try it again with more egg and less cilantro"; two "nice once but not twice." Fun to try though -- thanks for the supper idea, as well as the sterling contents of your weblog.

#31 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2004, 12:40 AM:

Alison, does the sweet potato and tomato soup come out tasting sweet? It seems like it might be interesting, but I don't much like sweet/savory dishes.

And many American recipes say "chili powder" when they mean pre-blended spices suitable for flavoring chili, containing chili pepper (generally one of the mild ones) with a fair amount of cumin and other spices. It doesn't refer to a particular proprietary blend, but to the type of blend (like "italian seasoning" is going to be some mix of basil, oregano, parsley, and marjoram, and maybe thyme or savory.)

I've made the same mistake even more dramatically than you did, despite the fact that I'm native to US kitchens and should know better. (I'm a total spice wimp, and thus unfamiliar with cayenne details.) After the chili debacle of last winter, it was all explained to me in some detail, and I was given my very own container of Penzeys mildest chili powder. I have such good friends. Such forgiving friends.

#32 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2004, 11:02 AM:

How sweet the soup ends up depends on the proportions of sweet potato to tomato, really. It's quite sweet for a savoury soup, but not as sweet as (say) parsnip soup or Jerusalem artichoke soup. If you use real beef stock instead of a cube, the result will be more savoury, too. You could also add a bit of mushroom ketchup (fabled ingredient of the gods for beefy flavoured things).

Sweet potatoes vary quite a lot in the UK; we get US ones which are good, and Middle Eastern ones which tend not to be as good. Tinned chopped tomatoes vary even more; the best ones come in thickish juice, and the worst are very watery. If using the latter sort you need more tomatoes and less water to produce a soup of zenlike balance. Of course, different people's zenlike balance varies; there's an anti-Delia trend in UK celebrity chefs at the moment that argues 'cook the thing and see if it tastes good. If it tastes good, then don't worry about whether or not you've followed the recipe or how it's 'supposed' to turn out.'

Interesting web fact of the day '30% of the UK population don't know what they'll be eating for dinner tonight'. Really? So few? In my experience, 75% of the population of my household don't know what's for dinner -- and the other 25% is normally none too sure. I guess the real statistic is '30% of those charged with cooking dinner tonight haven't decided what they're going to eat yet'.

#33 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2004, 03:06 PM:

If you can't find queso blanco at a grocery store (remember, I now live in a country that doesn't even have a single Taco Bell), it's easy to make at home:

1 Gallon Whole Milk
1/4 Cup White Vinegar

Heat 1 gallon of milk to about 180 F (82 C) over a double boiler. While mixing with a whisk, slowly add 1/4 cup white vinegar. You will notice the milk begins to curdle. Turn off the heat but leave the pot in the double boiler, and keep stirring for 10-15 minutes.

Line a colander with a fine cheesecloth. Pour the curdled milk through the colander. If you want, you can add a pinch of salt at this time and stir it through. Then allow the curds to cool for about 20 minutes. Tie the four corners of the cheese cloth together and hang it to drain for about 3 hours (until it stops dripping -- easiest way is to take a long twist-tie, tie it around the top of the gathered cloth and then around a wooden spoon, and hang the spoon across the top of a tall pot).

When you unwrap the cheese, you should have a solid but squishy block of cheese, which will cut cleanly but easily. It's pretty tasteless on its own, but good for cooking with.

#34 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 09:05 AM:

Here it is again, back by request, with only slight modifications...


#35 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 07:53 PM:

I have to vote for tabasco in that veggie soup, too, Teresa, but in my case it's just a kneejerk reaction to the presence of okra. :)

(Actually, the soup would require some significant tweaking for me as it includes sufficient veggies I don't care for -- notably squash in various varieties (except zucchini, which I do like), but also yam -- and too many carrots for me (I like them raw lots, cooked in small quantities only), but overall it sounds pretty good, and tabasco would make it wrong. But it was still my first reaction.)

The bacon and egg soup sounds awfully good, except reading the two recipes, I'm curious: why nuts in soup? I don't think I've ever had such a creation.

And, if anyone's curious -- and you probably aren't -- I haven't yet tried my vegetarian gumbo experimentation, but the more I read recipes the more inspired I get.

Now I just need some energy to go with my inspiration.

#36 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2004, 08:05 PM:

That soup sounds like it'd be brilliant without the poison cilantro.

#37 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2004, 11:00 PM:

Emma, re: pig knuckles in lentil soup:

My family makes lentil soup and various other recipes that usually call for pig knuckles, but substitutes a smoked turkey leg. You should be able to find these in the meat section of the grocery store, we pick them up at the big chain one with no need for a specialty shopping trip. Gives the soup that nice full flavor, avoids pig knuckles, and provides a lot more meat to boot.

#38 ::: Shnnn ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2004, 02:39 PM:

Th bcn nd gg sp snds DSGSTNG. Whr d y gt sch ds? D y rll wnt t t tht? Y mght gt sck.

#39 ::: Chrs ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2004, 02:42 PM:

Th bcn nd gg sp ws nst. trd t nd brfd.

#40 ::: Jmmy Pttcc ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2004, 02:51 PM:

tryd ll f yr rcps nd th tst lk crp. ll y ppl rdng ths, dnt tr th rcps. nd f y dd nd ddnt t t gv t t yr dg, yr dg prbbl wnt t t, flsh t dwn th tlt, n t mght clg yr tlt. Whtvr y d dnt t t!!!!!!!!! thnk y wld lk t lk nthr d.

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Shannon, Chris, Jimmy, did you really think I wasn't going to notice that you all came in from the same IP address, that you posted within minutes of each other, and that you all sound alike?

Back to the sock drawer with you!

Cripes. Whadda maroon.

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