(I was going to insert a sound clip here of bagpipes playing the Hallelujah Chorus. But I will spare you.)
I can stop whining and get into my kitchen with some gusto!
Yes, it is mostly gray today. Yes, it is still a bit sticky with humidity. But, it is cool, blessedly cool and fall like. I want to go on record that I HATE summer. I love the fresh food options and the longer days. I like wearing linen and cotton for about five minutes. But I truly hate the heat and humidity, the bugs, and the encroaching greenery everywhere. But I stay in the South because I love the people here.
I’m not going to spend a great deal of time on a soup story even though I have a few. I will say with a small bit of modesty that I’m reasonably famous for my soup. If my email inbox is any indication, I still have fans out there missing my soups.
There are also some pretty fond memories around my Tomato, Chicken and Corn soup.
I’ll save that for another post.
What I do want to write about is my soup technique. When a customer would ask why my soup was so good, I would always wink and joke that it was because I added LOVE to every pot, which is true. In this case, love is actually taking the time to get each step right. Soup is about filling up every corner you have. It should smell good, taste good, fill you up, and warm you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
If someone tastes your soup, halts the spoon in mid-air after the first bite, and then dives right back in, you have achieved soup success. That first spoonful should make every part of your tasting ability come alive. I call that a full-round experience when I teach palate training.
So how do I get those deep base flavors into every pot of soup?
-Cut the ingredients to size to fit on a soupspoon
-Season at every stage
-Browning the onions is tremendously important
-Cooking at a simmer to give flavors time to meld
-Balance in the final seasoning. That is what “to taste” actually means.
Soup should take an intense 15 or 20 minutes to put together and anywhere from one to two hours to simmer to perfection.
My other “secret” is cooking the meat separately. I have found that adding meat to a simmering pot of soup too soon results in nothing but overcooked meat. I generally add the cooked and seasoned meat to the soup pot in the last 10 minutes of cooking along with the fast cooking green veggies (kale or cabbage or any of those fast wilting greens) so that the flavors of the soup have developed and the meat and green addition are not cooked to death.
Over the next few weeks, I will be adding lots more soup lore. For right now, I am giving you this recipe so you can finish that leftover pumpkin you did not use from the previous post for Adult Pumpkin Spice Mousse. You remember that 15 or 16 ounce can of pumpkin that you measured out 8 ounces and wondered what you would do with the leftover? Do you see how I look after you?
One other thing: a full pot of soup should feed you for a few days, and before you are bored with it, the rest should be stored away in your freezer. There will be a night in the near future where having that soup ready and waiting to be thawed , heated and served will save your sanity and warm your weary soul.
- Ground Pork-1 pound
- Onion- 1 large, chopped
- Carrots-6 peeled and sliced into rounds
- Roasted Red Peppers-3 whole, chopped
- Black Beans-one 15 ounce can, rinsed
- Pumpkin-canned puree, 7-8 oz
- Wine-red or white leftover, ½ cup
- Soy sauce-1/4 cup
- Chicken Stock-2 quarts
- Cabbage-green, ½ large head chopped
- Cumin-ground, 3 Tbsp. divided
- Garlic-granulated, 1Tbsp /plus 2 tsp.
- Salt-kosher, 3 tsp divided.
- Black Pepper-ground, 3 tsp. divided
- Olive Oil- 2Tbsp. divided
- Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar-1 Tbsp.
- Heat a large soup or stock pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Add chopped Onion and allow to cook stirring occasionally until wilted and well browned.
- Add Carrots, Roasted Red Peppers and stir.
- Add pumpkin puree and stir constantly for 1 minute to prevent scorching or sticking.
- Add wine and soy sauce to the pot and stir to make sure all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan are released. This is where all the flavor happens in your soup base so take your time with each ingredient addition and allow some browning process to occur.
- Add the black beans, 2 Tbsp.cumin, 1 Tbsp granulated garlic, 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp pepper, stir and add the chicken stock.
- Put the lid on the pot and turn heat down to medium low and allow the soup to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the soup base is simmering heat a skillet on medium high heat. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Add ground pork , season with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper 1 Tbsp. ground cumin and 2 tsp. garlic. Stir to break up the ground pork and mix in the seasonings. Cook until all the pink is gone, but do not overcook.This will finish cooking when added to the soup.
- Seat aside off the heat until ready to add to the soup.
- When soup base has simmered for about 40 minutes, raise the heat to medium high and add the cabbage and cooked ground pork. (If you must drain the fat then do so, but pastured meat will have very little fat and does add tremendous flavor and mouth feel to the soup.)
- Stir well and replace the lid and allow to come to a slow boil. Turn heat down to low and check after 10 mins. Taste for salt and adjust to taste.
- Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and stir. Taste again and make sure the final bit of added lemon or vinegar has rounded out the flavors. I like a bit more lemon than most (3 Tbsp)so this is a very personal taste adjustment.