Chilled Corn and Peach Soup with Basil-4421


Not that kind of naked.  Naked as in camera-only.  No multiple lights, no radio controls, not even a tripod.  It has been a very long month–the PanMass Challenge, loved ones off to parts known and unknown–and during our single day of work in a week of vacation the last thing I wanted to do was set up lights and softboxes in our little vacation kitchen to make it look and feel transformed.  Sometimes all you can do is just let things be.  We had barely enough plenty of light coming though the windows and I thought why not dance on the edge a little?  Back to basics: camera – light – food.  This is a Chilled Corn and Peach Soup photographed au naturel. 

NEW YEAR’S BRODO – It’s all broth to me.

Brodo for the New Year-4991

Jody reminded me that we introduced people to Roquefort ice cream in our last post  that it was a new year and time for new beginnings, setting off on a healthy foot, etc.  Okay, okay, I get it.  Herewith: New Year’s Brodo (brodo, Italian for broth). Jody and I have different views of our subscribers. I envision season-ticket holder to the Circus Maximus, just slavering for the opportunity to thrust out their inverted thumbs. But Jody sees gentle souls garbed like her in moth-eaten cashmere bathrobes and fuzzy slippers waiting for a warm mug of beef tea, a good book and a place by the fire. I hope she’s right. There is something comforting about broth with shiitake mushrooms, fresh turmeric and ginger.  It’s definitely not a meal (for me), but it is solace.  As for the malcontents hoping for braised rabbit this week, I only have one thing to say: You’re about to learn to make stock, which is not the same as broth, and if you shut up and sit down I’ll tell you why.

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

Lentil Soup-0206

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


Tomato-Farro Soup-282-14242


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

Corn and Mussel Chowder-3926-1

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

Oliver's Chicken Stew - 119 - 1

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

Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger-1

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

Fava Bean and Almond Soup TGF-1

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.