Posts Tagged With: Soup

National Homemade Soup Day

Warm, hearty, and comforting, soup is the perfect food for those chilly winter days. And since the groundhog saw his shadow and informed us we have six weeks of winter left, it’s especially fitting. We didn’t celebrate this holiday last year because mushrooms were on the plate, but we lucked out this year. February 4 is National Homemade Soup Day!

I say lucked out, because we didn’t plan this food challenge. I just happened to make a pot of homemade albondigas soup for dinner last night, and brought leftovers to work for lunch. It may be an accident, but hey, I’m going with it. I’ll take every opportunity I can to cross another food holiday off our official list!

Whether you’re enjoying a bouillon or consomme, a puree or a bisque, soup has been a part of the human diet for a very long time. Evidence dates back to 20,000 BC. Holy cow, were there even people back then?! Since waterproof containers were rare back then, liquid soups were cooked in either animal hides or baskets made of reed or bark, heated to boiling with hot rocks. Interestingly, the word restaurant means “physically restoring,” and was first used to describe a soup sold by 16th century French street vendors that purportedly was used as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a shop was opened in Paris that specialized in these soups, and the term restaurant was used to describe eateries from that point forward. Dr. John T. Dorrance, a chemist with Campbell’s Soup Company, invented condensed soups in 1897; these canned soups allowed customers to simply add water and heat at home. Campbell’s remains popular to this day; the top three selling flavors are Tomato, Cream of Mushroom, and Chicken Noodle. Soup has been popularized in American culture thanks to people as diverse as Andy Warhol and the Soup Nazi, of Seinfeld fame.

Last night, I prepared a homemade albondigas soup. Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatball. Sure enough, this soup focuses on meatballs, cooked in a broth (I use beef, though many recipes call for chicken) with onion, tomato, carrots, celery, cilantro, and zucchini. A squirt of lime juice brings out the flavors. And, like many soups and stews, it’s better the next day, once the flavors have had time to meld together. My lunchtime bowl hit the spot!

National Homemade Soup Day

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Categories: Soup | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

340/365: National Gazpacho Day*

If you’re a fan of eating cold soup in one of the coldest months of the year, then…you’re weird. But apparently, not alone. December 6 is National Gazpacho Day!

It’s also National Microwave Oven Day and National Cook for Christmas Day. I suppose we could have taken the easy way out and nuked a bag of microwave popcorn, but where’s the fun in that? And, Christmas is still nearly three weeks away. Unless we cooked something that could then be frozen, I’m pretty sure it would be stale or moldy by then. I’d rather not spend the magical day praying to the porcelain gods, so gazpacho it is! Even though it makes no sense to me, having this holiday now. Kind of like National Vichyssoise Day made no sense to me in November.

Gazpacho is a tomato-based vegetable soup, usually served cold, that originated in southern Spain. It’s a staple of Spanish and Portugese cuisine. (Well, of course it is. The climate there is decidedly warmer. Although even over there, it’s more often considered a summer dish). Most recipes include some or all of the following ingredients: stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, and salt. The soup can be traced back to ancient times, and may have its roots either the Moors or Romans. (Let’s face it, it was probably the Romans. They had their hands in everything else back in the day).

I was actually excited to find a recipe for Gazpacho Shooters. These are both simple and fun, and don’t require a lot of prep work – and, they contain most of the key ingredients, anyway. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 16 oz. container salsa
1 cup Bloody Mary mix
3/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
1/2 cup water

Preparation

Stir together salsa, Bloody Mary mix, cucumber, and water. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve gazpacho in 2- to 4-oz. shot glasses. Garnish with cucumber sticks, if desired.

We did just that, and I have to say, this was one of the more fun food holidays of the whole year! They were delicious. And couldn’t have been easier to make.

National Gazpacho Day

Categories: Soup | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

322/365: National Vichyssoise Day*

If you subscribe to the theory that soup, like revenge, is a dish best served cold, then you won’t give today’s food holiday a chilly reception. November 18 is National Vichyssoise Day!

And also National Apple Cider Day. Which would have been delicious, refreshing, in season, and could have been served piping hot to take away the autumn chill. But yesterday, I had to go and open my mouth and declare that since our food challenge is winding down, we wanted to focus on some of the more unique foods that we might not otherwise encounter for a long time again (if ever), and I can’t say I’ve ever had vichyssoise. Hell, I can barely pronounce it! (Vi-shee-swa). So, let’s just dive right in to this soup that is made with pureed potatoes, leeks, and onions, and traditionally served cold!

The overriding question is, why is this soup served cold? Legend has it that King Louis XV of France (1710 –1774) was a big fan of potato soup, but was also paranoid that somebody might try to poison him. Thus, he demanded his servants taste his food before it made its way to him. Inevitably, by the time the potato soup reached the hungry king, it had grown cold. Rather than being irritated by this, the good king decided he happened to prefer his potato soup cold, after all. Nevertheless, vichyssoise fell out of favor for a couple of centuries, until one day in 1917 Ritz-Carlton chef Louis Diat, in an effort to cool off diners during the hot and sultry summer months, recreated a childhood favorite hot leek and potato soup his mother used to make. The family would cool it off by adding milk, and Diat did the same, calling it “creme vichyssoise.” Originally it was only served during the summer months, but demand became so great, it was added to the menu as a regular dish in 1923.

I made vichyssoise using this recipe from Allrecipes.com, scaling down the serving size since we only wanted to try it as an appetizer. I actually made it last night and let it sit in the fridge, stirring in the cream at the last minute before serving. The result? Tasty…but kind of pointless. I make a hot cream of potato soup that is so much better, especially this time of year. THIS had me craving THAT. Of course, that’s easy for me to say, seeing as how I don’t have anybody trying to poison me.

That I know of, anyway.

P.S. 5 minutes after posting this, I found myself unable to put the spoon down. This really IS pretty good. Once you get used to the fact that it’s cold, the flavor grows on you. I like it!

National Vichyssoise Day

Categories: Soup | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

313/365: National Split Pea Soup Day*

All we are saying is give peas a chance. Especially today: November 9 is National Split Pea Soup Day!

It’s also National Scrapple Day. If you’re wondering what the heck scrapple is, so was I. I’m almost afraid I bothered to look it up. Apparently, scrapple is a loaf of meat made with the scraps left over from butchering hogs. Spices and buckwheat flour are added to the pork fat and trimmings, and the whole thing is poured into a loaf pan to chill and take on a semi-solid congealed texture. Later, it’s sliced and fried, and this “delicacy” – popular in the Mid-Atlantic states – is panfried and served with ketchup, jelly, honey, mustard, or syrup. It’s considered a traditional meal of the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish. And people give me a hard time for liking Spam! {Shudder}. What a shame scrapple is pretty much impossible to find out here on the West Coast. Of course, some people (cough*Tara*cough) don’t consider split pea soup much of a step up, but given the alternative, c’mon! (And there’s a 3rd food holiday – National Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day – that is much too wide open to interpretation to do us much good. We’re having a fun and busy weekend in the Emerald City. Who’s got time to think?).

Oh, and it’s also my mother-in-law’s (Tara’s mom’s) birthday. Happy birthday, Tracy! Sorry I don’t have a nice, gift-wrapped scrapple for you.

Peas have been cultivated for nearly as long as humans have walked the earth, and pea soup dates back to ancient times. Greeks and Romans were growing peas around 500 to 400 B.C., and street vendors in Athens often peddled hot pea soup. The soup is made from dried split peas and can range from grayish-green to yellow in color, depending on the variety of pea used.

We have a busy day planned and nobody was crazy about serving split pea soup on Tracy’s birthday (with the possible exception of me – I love the stuff), so we took the easy way out and heated up a can of Campbell’s Split Pea with Ham. For an appetizer before the birthday dinner. As per usual, I loved it. Tracy loved it. Anne loves it. Tara thought it was disgusting, but took her requisite spoonful. My nephew Anthony and I polished off the rest of the bowl, ’cause we can appreciate a delicious soup!

National Split Pea Soup Day

Categories: Soup | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

292/365: National Seafood Bisque Day*

It would be shellfish of me not to remind you about today’s food holiday. October 19 is National Seafood Bisque Day!

Alternatively, you could celebrate National Oatmeal Muffin Day. No offense to oatmeal or muffins, but why would you? A rich, hearty, and delicious seafood bisque sounds about a million times more appealing, especially as the weather is turning colder. Besides, this will enable us to use up the last of our crab from the wedding.

A bisque is a smooth, creamy soup based on a strained broth made with crustacean shells – typically shrimp, crab, or lobster. The name of this French classic is believed to have come from the Bay of Biscay, though bis cuites (“twice cooked”) also applies to the preparation of a typical bisque, in which the crustaceans are generally sauteed in their shells first, before being simmered in a broth of wine and other ingredients and then strained. Cream is then added, and the soup is thickened with a roux, though in the past rice was commonly used, or even the pulverized crustacean shells themselves. When cooking a bisque, Julia Childs instructs, “Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don’t want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing themselves down the drain.” Marvelous tidbits of flavor, come baaaack!!!

We’ve been very fortunate with the timing of many of these food holidays. I guess we picked a good year to take on this project, because it seems the toughest challenges have fallen on either Friday nights when we could go out, or weekends, when we are able to invest the time in cooking a tricky meal from scratch. I know this has been the case with Peking duck, escargot, and rum punch, among others, and today is no exception. Besides the Dungeness crab from our wedding, Tara added shrimp and  made a wonderful seafood bisque that was hot, creamy, and loaded with delicious flavor.

National Seafood Bisque Day

Categories: Seafood, Soup | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

89/365: National Turkey Neck Soup Day

You’ll want to gobble up a bowl of delicious, hot soup today. March 30th is National Turkey Neck Soup Day! Which, let’s face it, is kind of bizarre. Turkey soup I could see. But turkey neck soup?! Sounds like something only Cousin Eddie would appreciate. Save-Neck-For-Me-Navy-Shirt

Few foods are as quintessentially American as turkey. Not only is it synonymous with Thanksgiving, but every signature on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other important documents dreamed up by the Founding Fathers was inscribed using a turkey feather quill. By the way, ever wonder why turkeys are referred to as Tom? Benjamin Franklin jokingly called them that because Thomas Jefferson chose the bald eagle over the turkey to represent the new nation’s symbol. I guess Jefferson really ruffled Ben’s feathers.

The turkey neck may not be the most popular part of the bird, but the meat it contains is pretty tasty – as long as you cook it for awhile. It is tough at first, but after several hours simmering in broth, it becomes quite tender and flavorful. Making a turkey neck soup was a breeze. We had some wonderful leftover homemade chicken stock which we used as a base, along with the requisite turkey necks (surprisingly easy to find – thanks, mom!), some carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bell peppers, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper. It made for a delicious lunch!

Turkey Neck Soup

Categories: Poultry, Soup | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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