“Soo-oop of the e-e-evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!”
Alice in Wonderland
I’m dreaming of soup, even though the weatherman says 80 degrees if we’re lucky. How a person want soup when she is sopping wet and sweating from the steamy pea-soup fog thickening the air?
Soup is a comforting food, symbolizing love and security. An ill stomach heals with light doses of soup. A hungry stomach sighs contentedly after a little soup and looks forward to more yet to come. An overstuffed stomach desires only a wee bit of soup the day after the feast. All’s well when there is soup to eat. And soup is simple: it demands little more of the cook than first-class ingredients and a watchful eye.
One of the oldest cooked food known to mankind, soup loomed large as the chief nutritional mainstay of generations. Peasants the world over ate soup morning and night. In fact, the word “supper” comes from the French word “souper”, meaning essentially “to dine on soup.” Medieval lords showed favor to their guests by controlling the number of “sops” or pieces of meat or other foods like bread in the soup broth: the more “sops” present, the greater the host’s generosity. Soup fed travelers, too. Travelers from time immemorial, including American pioneers, carried “pocket soups” with them. Forerunners of modern bouillon cubes, “pocket soup” was meat broth boiled down until a gel formed. The gel was cooled, cut into cubes, and dried. Weary travelers had only to heat water, drop in the cubes, stir, and eat. Thin as it may have been, pocket soup was fast and edible. Instant soup is nothing new!
Just like cooks today, soup can either be thick or thin. Thin soups include meal starters like consommés and bouillons, though hopefully not watery like the soup Abraham Lincoln so caustically disdained, a ” ‘soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death.’” Thickened with pureed vegetables, noodles, rice, potatoes, flour, or eggs (and so on), thick soups interest the stomach more than do thin soups. Nearly anything available in the pantry makes a great thick soup, the perfect one-pot meal.
When that eternal post-Thanksgiving turkey carcass (or ham or roast or pigeon) looms large in your pantry and the gravy is gone, think soup. Try turkey chowder, cream of turkey soup, or turkey gumbo. Make plenty of biscuits, toss a simple salad of dark green lettuce, turn off the lights, light some candles, gather your family around the table (turn off the TV, too), and…well, just eat “beautiful soup.”
1/4 cup bacon
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, whole
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
8 cups turkey stock (Make as for “Cream of Turkey Soup”)
1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
1/2 cup diced carrots
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 cups scalded milk
2 egg yolks (or 4 T. flour mixed with 1/2 cup water)
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
3 T. chopped parsley
1. Fry bacon with onion, garlic clove, and celery until vegetables are translucent. Pour off any extra fat. Stir in stock, potatoes, carrots, salt and pepper, and bay leaf. Cook 1 1/2 hours or until vegetables are very tender. Remove bay leaf.
2. Mix egg yolks (or flour mixture) into milk to begin thickening process. Stir well. Pour milk mixture into soup and heat through until thickened. Add turkey and parsley. Serve with crackers or thick slices of toasted whole wheat bread.
CREAM OF TURKEY SOUP
Turkey bones and skin
2 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, whole
3 sprigs of parsley
10 black peppercorns
Pinch of dried thyme
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup pureed turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked green peas
1. Make stock by combining 6 cups of water with the first 9 ingredients. Simmer for 2 hours. Drain stock through cheesecloth layered over a sieve into another large pot. Press to get out all the juices.
2. Return stock to the heat and let cook at high heat for about 20 minutes to reduce and concentrate stock. Pour in cream. Add turkey, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the peas. Serve with crackers.
6 cups turkey stock (made as for “Cream of Turkey Soup”)
50 medium shrimp, shells on, heads removed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced okra (frozen or fresh)
2 cups peeled, seeds, and chopped tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. white pepper
1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
1/2 t. ground cayenne pepper
1/4 t. dried oregano leaves
Salt to taste
2 cups cubed leftover turkey
1/2 pound cubed ham
1. Bring the turkey stock to a boil, add the shrimp, and cook until pink and just beginning to curl. Remove from heat and take out shrimp. Immediately run cold water on them. Peel shrimp and refrigerate until needed. Strain stock and return it to the large pot.
2. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the oil until it begins to smoke, remove from heat, and stir in the flour. Cook flour over high heat about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the vegetables (except for tomatoes) to the skillet and stir them into the roux. Return the pan to low heat and cook vegetables are softened. Add tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, white pepper, thyme, red pepper, oregano, and salt. Roux will be golden brown. Stir the roux into the stock, stirring constantly. Cook gumbo for 1-1 1/2 hours or until flavors are blended. Stir in turkey, ham, and shrimp. Heat through for 15 minutes. Serve in large flat bowls with rice mounded in the center and the gumbo around it.
© 2008 C. Bertelsen