The one that got away – Lentil, Pepper and Escarole Soup

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Shouldn’t Prairie Home Companion have a folksy sponsor like the American Soup Council to tout this most comforting of all dishes?  Imagine the catchphrases: “Soup – we’ve got your back,” or “Soup – a mom in every bowl,” or even, “Soup – at least the barn didn’t burn down.”  That’s how I feel about this week’s spicy makeover – Lentil, Pepper and Escarole Soup.  I just had a bowl.  It was all the things soup should be – tasty and warm and reassuring.  It certainly dispelled some of the gloom attendant on my losing this week’s photographs.

That’s right, I lost them.

Tomato and Farro Soup

 

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Back in 2001, when we were working on our cookbook, farro was still rare.  If you went to the right restaurants, if you frequented the vortices of culinary hipness.  Italian delis, in New York or San Francisco maybe.  Specialty food stores, the occasional sighting.  How the world has turned in a dozen years!  Now you can often buy farro in grocery stores, which is a good thing if you want to make this week’s Tomato – Farro Soup.

Corn and Mussel Chowder

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In his brilliant maritime novels set during the Napoleonic wars the English writer Patrick O’Brian was ruthlessly accurate about the handling of square-rigged sailing ships and the social relations in the British navy.  In order to keep readers from feeling completely adrift O’Brian, whom the NYT Book Review dubbed “Jane Austen at sea,” often had his sea-wise characters explain details of shipboard life to landlubbers who had wandered into the story.  Those new to cuisine afloat soon learned, for example, that chowder and the dreaded “portable soup”* were thickened with hardtack lest the liquid slosh out of the bowl and onto the diner. Hardtack, sailors then cheerfully pointed out, was infested with worms, nicknamed “bargemen,” after their resemblance atop the crackers in the soup, to pilots steering captain’s barges  from one side of the bowl to the other.   In MASTER AND COMMANDER, O’Brian has a character contemplate his soup with its infested crackers and then observe, “Don’t you know that in the Navy one must always choose the lesser of two weevils.  Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!”  

You’re either on board with this kind of humor or you’re not.  If you’re not, you can console yourself with today’s post, Corn and Mussel Chowder.  Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!

Oliver’s Chicken Stew, in a pressure cooker

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After this week you might be forgiven for thinking that we’ve changed our name to Mastering the Art of French Carroting, or perhaps Babette’s Carrot.*  The prominence of carrots in the last three posts  was pure happenstance, answers to the question: What do we like to cook in the pressure cooker?  Turns out carrots figure in a lot of what we like, including this week’s recipe, Oliver’s Chicken Stew.

Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger

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After the complexities of the Blue Zone, we thought some simple pressure-cooker* recipes would make a welcome change of pace.  Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger is the first of 4 or 5 PC posts (vote with your comments!).   If you don’t own a pressure cooker, no worries, all of the recipes work the old-fashioned way; they just take a little longer.  

Welcome to the Blue Zone – Fava Bean and Almond Soup

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On the Greek Island of Ikaria a startling number of people live to be 100, or older. Dan Buetner has identified five communities with unusually long-living residents, geographic regions he calls Blue Zones@. For the next five weeks–because we don’t like New Year’s resolutions–we’re bringing you healthy dishes from the culinary cultures of the Blue Zones. First up, Sardinia, with Fava Bean and Almond Soup. Simple, easy, delicious. Oh, and you might even live to be 100.

Celery Root and Sunchoke Soup with Gorgonzola


Hey, wait, didn’t you guys make Celery Root Soup with Gorgonzola last year?  Well, uh, yeah, holy crap, heh-heh, looks like we did.  OMG, I’m living in Groundhog Day.

Unfortunately we didn’t realize it until after we cooked and photographed this soup.  But this is different!  [Insert pleading face.]  Seriously.  This is Celery Root and SUNCHOKE Soup with Gorgonzola.

Did you carve a pumpkin last year?  Did you carve a pumpkin this year?  Did you carve the exact, same face on both?  I thought not.  Keep reading.

Chilled Garlic Scape and Buttermilk Soup

There’s nothing like a bowl of cold savory soup in hot weather, and until the day we do a post on jellied madrilene, this Chilled Garlic Scape and Buttermilk Soup will have to stand in.  It’s a wrinkle on vichyssoise, close enough to feel familiar, but with a few turns you might not have expected, like scapes and buttermilk.

Tart, garlicky, cool–you’re going to love it on a sweltering night.

Wilted Green Salad with Fresh Chickpeas, Feta and Greek Yogurt

Craig Claiborne, the late pioneer of food journalism for the New York Times once wrote a New Year’s Day column that included the line, “Blessed indeed is the household whose refrigerator contains an overlooked tin of caviar.”  Yes, well.  For most of us, caviar times may be gone, but that only means the return of our salad days.  Substitute chickpeas for caviar and you’re halfway to Wilted Green Salad with Fresh Chickpeas, Feta and Greek Yogurt.

Flageolet Soup with Crème Fraiche, Tarragon and Mustard

After getting back from California we wanted to catch our breath with a simple dish that wouldn’t require a lot of effort. If it went with the the crazy New England weather this week, warm or cold, all the better. Herewith Flageolet Soup with Crème Fraiche, Tarragon and Mustard. Flageolets (fla-as in flag-zhay-oh-lay) are a small, delicate bean, usually (but not always, as you can see in the photos) an alluring pale green. If you examine them closely they’re covered with faint green stripes. They’re removed from the pod before reaching full maturity, which contributes to their delicate flavor. My first encounter with them was an impulse purchase – how could I not buy a package of beans the color of young grasshoppers?