Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Soup’s On

IMG_0957I love soup as much as the next guy, but sometimes I feel like what every good soup needs is a small excess of garnishes. Case in point, this butternut squash soup (see above). There are few soups that seem to inspire the same rapturous response as a well-made butternut squash, which is the perfect transformation of one of fall’s humblest, best ingredients. I make it as soon as the leaves start to turn, which in-turn, unlocks the beginning of soup season in my kitchen. Yes, in the pantheon of potage, there are many greats, but here are my

TOP 5 FAVORITE SOUPS TO MAKE, in no particular order:

1.Chicken noodle: Made with extra noodles and a homemade broth (I use my leftover roast chicken carcasses, covered with water and simmered for a couple of hours). Perfect for head colds and any existential malaise.

2. Tomato soup: Using roasted tomatoes, and always served with a a side of grilled cheese—American to evoke childhood memories, sharp cheddar when someone you like is coming over for lunch.
tomsoup3. French Onion: Lots of work if you do it right (caramelizing a sac of onions, making a hearty beef stock, putting aside some good crusty bread), but always worth it when you pull that first gooey bite to your lips.

4. Pasta Fagioli: I’ve been making only one version for years—chef Marco Canora’s from his wonderful Italian cookbook Salt to Taste—which includes pancetta, tons of herbs, and ditalini pasta. To me it’s the perfect cold weather soup.

P12706475. Tomato-Chickpea: Marcella Hazan’s version, a close second to the pasta fagioli, it has the added step of peeling the chickpeas, which may seem like a nutballs task, but trust me, it’s worth it.

And then of course the butternut squash. The one pictured above is a version from the wonderful Deborah Madison, and uses coconut milk, miso, and lime juice. It’s divine. How I make it my own is with the selection of garnishes: I add toasted coconut flakes, lots of chopped cilantro, a spoonful of tart yogurt, and basamati rice. With the addition of these substantial ingredients, a simple soup becomes a multi-layered meal that can stand on it’s own. The same goes for all of my favorite soups to make this time of year—if I’m generous with the herbs sprinkled on top, the grated parmigiano-reggiano, the crisped pancetta, the addition of a spoonful of grains like quinoa or farro, or stir in some greens, a soup becomes something more than just the sum of its parts.

So what’s your favorite soup to make this time of year?

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