Let our delicious celebration of National Soup Month continue ...
Can you pass the “Soup 101” test?
— What is the name for beet soup?
— What is the name of the fish stew created in Marseilles, France?
— Where did Mulligatawny soup originate?
— What soup is Cajun, popular in New Orleans, and made with meat, seafood and vegetables often served over rice?
— What artist produced pictures of soup cans?
— What is the Japanese soup made with fermented bean paste?
— What is the French word for a restaurant’s featured daily soup?
— What is the name of book series where each title contains the word soup?
— What company invented condensed soup?
— Are men or women twice as likely to order soup for lunch?
— What is the most popular soup variety in the United States?
— What company created the first ready-to-serve premium soup from an old family recipe and what kind was it?
Answers: Borscht, Bouillabaisse, India, Gumbo, Andy Warhol, Miso, soup du jour, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Campbell Soup Company, women, chicken noodle, Progresso-minestrone
Here are some more recipes from my friends at America’s Test Kitchen who published “Cook’s Illustrated: All Time Best Soups,” (2016, $22.95). The first one is a favorite of mine.
The headnote says: “Why This Recipe Works ... Our Manhattan clam chowder is head and shoulders above most versions because it has a briny bivalve taste right up front. This soup has a reputation for being boring because it’s usually more about the tomatoes than the clams. Our secret? We use lots more clams and homemade clam broth to balance the strong flavor of the tomatoes and other vegetables. Medium-size hard-shell clams provided both the flavor for the broth and the clam meat for the chowder. We opted for canned diced tomatoes to let the clams take center stage. Smashing some of the tender potatoes released more of their starch and helped thicken the broth. When reheating, do not boil the chowder or it will toughen the clams. Use a Dutch oven or stockpot that holds 6 quarts or more and has a tight-fitting lid for this recipe.”
Bring water to boil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add clams, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir clams thoroughly and continue to cook, covered, until they begin to open, 2 to 7 minutes. As clams open, transfer them to large bowl and let cool slightly. Discard any unopened clams. Measure out and reserve 5 cups clam steaming liquid, avoiding any gritty sediment that has settled on bottom of pot. (If broth measures less than 5 cups, add enough water to equal 5 cups.) Open clams with paring knife, holding clams over bowl to catch any juices. Using knife, sever muscle that attaches clambelly to shell and transfer meat to cutting board. Discard shells. Cut clams into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.
Clean now-empty Dutch oven, add bacon, and cook over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and celery. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add wine and increase heat to high. Boil wine until it reduces by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, and reserved clam broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Using wooden spoon, smash a few potatoes against side of pot. Simmer to release potato starch, about 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes and their juice, return to simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in reserved clams and season with salt and pepper to taste; discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley and serve. Serves 8.
To Make Ahead: Prepare recipe up through discarding bay leaf in step 4 and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To reheat, warm over low heat until hot then stir in parsley just before serving.
The headnote says: “Why This Recipe Works ... This inspired sweet-and-savory vegetarian chowder combines hearty potato with delicately anise-flavored celery root and shredded apple. Celeriac (known more commonly as celery root) is a staple in supermarkets, but most cooks walk right by it. That’s a shame because this knobby tuber boasts refreshing herbal flavors with notes of anise, mint, mild radish, and celery. Its creamy (rather than starchy) texture makes it the perfect choice for a hearty vegetable chowder. To further enhance its anise flavor, we sautéed a chopped fennel bulb along with pieces of onion. For a sweet, fruity counterpoint, we added some grated apple along with chunks of tender red potatoes to bulk up the chowder. For a bright citrus note, we simmered a strip of orange zest in the broth. Pureeing 2 cups of the chowder with a modest amount of cream and then stirring the puree back into the pot gave our soup the perfect amount of body. Finally, we stirred in minced fresh fennel fronds to brighten the dish.”
Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, fennel bulb, and 11/2 teaspoons salt and cook until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.
Stir in broth, water, celery root, potatoes, apple, bay leaf, and orange zest and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer gently until stew is thickened and vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
Off heat, discard bay leaf and orange zest. Puree 2 cups chowder and cream in blender until smooth, about 1 minute, then return to pot. Stir in fennel fronds, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Serves 6.
The headnote says: “Why This Recipe Works ... With this recipe in your arsenal, you can enjoy the addictive flavors of Thai soup any time, not just when dining out. For an authentic-tasting Thai chicken soup without all the hard-to-find ingredients, we began by making a rich base with chicken broth and coconut milk. Thai curry paste from the supermarket was an easy substitution for the assortment of obscure ingredients like makrut lime leaves, galangal, and bird chiles used in from-scratch recipes. Pungent fish sauce and tart lime juice contributed the salty and sour flavors. Although we prefer the deeper, richer flavor of regular coconut milk, light coconut milk can be substituted for one or both cans. The fresh lemon grass can be omitted, but the soup will lack some complexity; don’t be tempted to use jarred or dried lemon grass, as both have characterless flavor. If you want a spicier soup, add more red curry paste to taste. To make the chicken easier to slice, freeze it for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add lemon grass, shallots, chopped cilantro sprigs, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce and cook, stirring often, until just softened but not browned, 2 to 5 minutes.
Stir in broth and 1 can coconut milk and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to gentle simmer, and cook until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer. (Broth can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
Return strained broth to clean saucepan, stir in remaining can coconut milk and sugar, and bring to simmer. Stir in mushrooms and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink, 1 to 3 minutes.
Remove soup from heat. Whisk lime juice, curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce together in bowl to dissolve curry, then stir mixture into soup. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cilantro leaves, chiles, and scallions. Serve with lime wedges. Serves 6.
Taste of Middlesex County continues through Jan. 19, fixed-price three-course dinners priced at $20.20 and $30.20. Participating restaurants and menus at https://bit.ly/39fpLVR.
Consiglio’s Demonstration Cooking Class: Jan. 15, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $75 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included), Menu: Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Bruschetta, Iceberg Wedge, Gorgonzola, Bacon & Tomato Pepeso , Tuscan Pepper Beef Stew over Creamy Polenta, Chocolate and Pistachio Biscotti. https://bit.ly/2Nd0xAg
Fire & Ice Outdoor Winter Festival Jan. 17, 7-11 p.m., Saybrook Point Inn, 2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook; $69.95 plus tax. Cash bar. Adults-only (21+) event features winter fun on the terrace, music by Java Groove, ice carving demonstrations, a photo booth and unique specialty cocktails. Food stations offer raw bar, chowders and chili, seafood, smoked chicken, BBQ beef sliders and desserts. An overnight stay package is available; 860-339-0555, info and tickets at https://bit.ly/35Z5MsF.
Barrel Aged Brew Fest, Jan. 18, 1 p.m., Black Hog Brewing, 115 Hurley Road, Building 9A, Oxford, $45; $10 designated driver ticket; $65 in advance, $75 day of bundle ticket includes specialty barrel-aged Black Hog bottles. A portion of proceeds benefit Vie ForThe Kids. Samplings of barrel-aged beers and ciders from CT breweries and producers. Caseus Cheese Truck and Wolfski’s Pierogies will be on site. Info and tickets at blackhogbrewing.com; tickets.beerfests.com.
Tuscan Wine Dinner, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m., Guilford Mooring, 505 Whitfield St., Guilford; $90, includes tax and gratuity. Features Douglas MacLeod of Freixenet Mionetto. Menu: https://bit.ly/2FdmB7b; Tickets: 203-458-2921, guilfordmooring.com.
Consiglio’s Mystery Dinner Party: “Pajama Jam 2,” Jan. 24, 7 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a 3-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. Wear your jammies to compete for a prize! https://bit.ly/2QztQvt.