Archive for March, 2009

Dill Pickle Soup at The Fountain on Locust

DILL PICKLE SOUP. That’s right. I read about this soup on the Riverfront Times’s Gut Check blog a few weeks ago and I knew I had to check it out.

The Fountain on Locust is a charming spot downtown. The location has a simple diner feel, with the food being quite a few steps above regular diner fare. Plus they have a full bar, with a large selection of creative mixed cocktails. Now to the soup: it’s essentially a simple potato soup, with the added salty sweetness of dill pickle flavor. It might sound kind of weird, but trust me it’s really worth a try–it’s delicious. (Even my super-picky little sister liked it.)

Click the link below for a video describing their dill pickle soup making process:
Dill Pickle Soup at The Fountain on Locust from ToastedRav .com on Vimeo.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Well, spring is almost upon us. Recently I found this nifty tool for figuring out what’s in season: NRDC’s Eat Local info. According to this site right now my options are limited to spinach and asparagus–then again, I went to the Schlafly farmer’s market yesterday, all excited to pick up the star ingredient for this soup I was planning, and unfortunately I guess it is still a bit too soon to expect much outside of honey, salsa, eggs, and meat (although I did get some great pasta from the Mangia Italiano booth).

Anywhoo, I’d already decided on asparagus soup this week so, undeterred, that’s what I made. I’ve been doing some reading about pureed veggie soups, and one thing that keeps coming up is an insistence that, as a base, butter is going to yield a better flavor overall than olive oil. I usually use olive oil because it’s healthier and I always have plenty on hand, but I thought I’d give it a try. Overall, the soup turned out quite tasty, with the asparagus flavor definitely dominant but still fairly mild. I also used these big, fat artisan salts called Maldon Salt that I picked up at Kitchen Conservatory a while back, and the strong salty flavor gave it a good balance and richness.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

INGREDIENTS
serves 4

1 1/2 T butter
4 large shallots, coarsely chopped
1 T minced fresh thyme
1 T all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
coarse salt (I recommend Maldon sea salt!)
3 T half and half
juice of one lemon

PROCEDURE
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the shallots and thyme over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes. Add the flour, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
2. Add the asparagus, water, and white wine; season generously with salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until asparagus is bright green and just tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste; stir in the half and half and lemon juice and serve.

UPDATE: After bringing this to work for lunch all week, I just wanted to note that throughout the week, the smell of this soup when I took it out of the fridge was pretty… unpleasant. And it got worse as the week went on. Strangely, the soup still tasted great despite the smell. Weird.

Spicy Asian Noodle Soup

This soup is based on a recent Minimalist column in the New York Times titled “A Broth and Noodle Dish with Almost Endless Variations.” Intrigued, I decided to make up my own version of this dish and see what happened. (I would recommend reading the column linked above before embarking on this recipe.  As the title suggests, there are lots of other interesting variations listed, plus a helpful overview video.)

Spicy Asian Noodle Soup
serves 4-6
Note: despite being a recipe from the Minimalist, you will start out with 3-4 pots and pans going on the stove at once–to me this seems like a bit much.  But overall it’s a fairly simple recipe and took me less than a half hour to put together.

INGREDIENTS
salt
2 cooked chicken breasts (directions to poach uncooked chicken breasts in step 1 below)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 T canola oil
1 shallot, minced
2 T sliced or grated fresh ginger
1 cup snow peas
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup soy sauce (more to taste)
3 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1 T rice wine vinegar
A few drops sesame oil
3 dried red chilis (this will be about medium hot)
10 oz package dried Chinese egg noodles (or fresh — I could only find dried in my grocery)
sriracha sauce
2 T cilantro, roughly chopped

PROCEDURE
1. If poaching the chicken breasts, put in a pot with 2 inches of water covering chicken, bring to a boil, and then simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes (until no longer pink inside).
2. Bring one very large pot with about 5 quarts of salted water to boil (for the noodles). Also bring one smaller pot of  4 cups salted water and 1 cup chicken broth to boil.
3. In a nonstick pan saute the shallot in the canola oil for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, until softened, and dd the ginger and cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add the snow peas and half of the scallions, lower the heat, and saute gently for about 5 minutes.
4. Mix together the soy sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and sesame oil. When the small pot of water comes to a boil, add this mixture along with the chilis (if using). Also add the sauteed vegetables. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes. Taste broth and add more soy sauce, vinegar, etc. as you like.
5. When the large pot comes to a boil, cook the noodles according to package directions (mine took three minutes), drain and rinse in a colander, and set aside.
6. Shred the cooked chicken and add to the broth.
7. Divide the noodles into bowls and pour hot broth over the noodles to serve. Top with sriracha, cilantro, and scallions.

Vegetable Soup @ SLAM

Today I had lunch at the Saint Louis Art Museum — which, by the way, is hosting an exhibition of Ming Dynasty pieces that is absolutely worth checking out — and was pleasantly surprised by a delicious vegetable barley soup that they were serving at Puck’s Cafe. Now I have strong opinions about vegetable soup (and how boring it usually is — thoughts which are really best left to a later post) and I found the soup at Puck’s to be excellent. It involved a myriad of fresh, colorful veggies in a thick, tomato-y, and pleasantly spicy broth. Plus the service was very good (I love any spot that will let you taste a soup before you commit!).

Mostly Soup, Now with More Famous

This little post is just meant to thank the Riverfront Times’ Gut Check blog for adding me to their St. Louis Food Blog Digest this week. Gracias! And to anyone who is a new visitor, thanks to their mention — welcome here, I hope you like what you read…

Lazy Irish Beer Bread

Well, okay it’s St. Patrick’s Day, so in the spirit of everyone’s favorite beer-centered holiday I may as well post up the beer bread recipe I tried last weekend.  This was incredibly easy to make — no kneading, no proofing, just mix together three ingredients and *bam* you get a loaf of bread in under an hour. It really makes batter instead of dough, so the top is lumpy, and thus it isn’t the prettiest bread. (If you wanted to make it super festive/ugly you could add green food coloring. Ew!) I used Guinness and thus my bread came out pretty dark, but it was delish, and kind of vaguely sweet.

Lazy Irish Beer Bread
makes 1 loaf

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups self rising flour
12 oz room temperature beer
2 T sugar

PROCEDURE
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Hand mix all ingredients only until well mixed (do not beat or use a mixer) and put mixture into greased loaf pan.
3. Bake for 45 minutes.

Food Photos and Flickr Group

Hey there. I realize that I do not have the most prowess when it comes to food photography, and I want to improve as the blog develops — in the meantime, I know there are lots of you out there taking lovely pictures of soups that you cook or eat out on the town. If you post them to Flickr you can add them to the new Mostly Soup Flickr group and then (hopefully) through the magic of the internets they will appear on my sidebar. Fun!

Sweet Potato Bisque

A close friend of mine sent me a link to this recipe from The Wednesday Chef (a really fantastic food blog) — in her email there was no note, no explanation. But then again none was really needed: sweet potatoes, corn, and jalepeños? plus molasses, one of my favorite ingredients of all time? Yes, I was sold immediately. And I did offer to be a soup guinea pig, so I felt bound to give this recipe a go.

This is a true find — healthy, comforting, and quite inexpensive to make. There is a nice sweet flavor from the molasses and sweet potato, with a spicy note from the jalepeño and cayenne. It came together quick too. The other versions say to top it with parsley or scallions, but I’m not convinced either would add much. I made a few adjustments, so see the link above for the original (which was republished on the blog from nytimes.com).

Sweet Potato, Corn and Jalapeño Bisque

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 medium jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (tip: slice in half and scrape the seeds out with a grapefruit spoon)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
3 tablespoons molasses
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Scant pinch ground cinnamon

PROCEDURE
sweet-potato-bisque11.
In a large saucepan or soup pot (with high sides if using immersion blender), heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until just soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, wine, and stock and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, purée contents of pot, in batches if necessary, until smooth.

3. Reheat soup, stirring in jalapeño, corn, molasses, salt, cayenne, black pepper and cinnamon. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.

Seasonal Soups

I started this blog at the end of January, in the heart of winter, when pretty much any day is a good day for soup. Now that it’s mid-March and little flowers are poking out of the ground, buds are sprouting on the trees, and we can leave our jackets at home (sometimes), a few people have asked me if I’m going to continue writing the blog. I mean, soup is just for winter –right?

WRONG. Sorry people. Soup can work all year! Brothy soups and seasonal veggies in spring; light, fresh, and of course cold soups (it’s more than just gazpacho!) in the summer; and then of course rich autumn flavors once the chill of fall rolls around again. So please — keep reading, and sending me ideas, so that we can uncover soups for every season right here.

Crawfish Bisque at Vin de Set

Last weekend we took advantage of the nice weather and dined in the outdoor patio at Vin de Set in Lafayette Square. It was, as usual, a great experience–excellent service, a lovely atmosphere, and an interesting menu. Their soup du jour was a crawfish bisque, and I couldn’t resist.

Unfortunately, the soup was a disappointment. For one, it had an unappealing color and texture–light brown, and mostly smooth with some sandy chunks. The crawfish flavor was fairly strong, but it was still overwhelmed by a salty Old Bay taste. It was sort of an Old Bay bisque. Bummer!



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