I know-you were expecting me to title this No Soup For You, but that would have been too obvious. The fact is, there was SO much soup available at the end of the night, that title would have been a lie!
Soup is actually one of my favorite things to eat. It can be rich and hearty or simple and elegant. There are actually only 2 main categories of soup- thin/clear and thick. A little obvious, huh? But what goes under each category is pretty interesting.
• Broth – a flavorful liquid obtained from the long simmering of meats and/or vegetables
• Hearty Broth-based on clear broths or stock, but with more body. Vegetables and meat are often added. This may include beans, rice and pasta-like a Minestrone.
• Consommé – French for “soup,” also used to describe a clear soup made from well-seasoned stock
The difference between the two? Consommé is absolutely clear with no fat at all and is usually served with just a touch of garnish. Broth tends to be a little cloudier and often has a bit of fat in it.
• Cream – based on béchamel (classic white sauce) and then finished with heavy cream.
• Chowder – classically made of seafood, including pork, potatoes and onions. The name comes from the French term ‘chaudiere’ which is a kettle that the fisherman used to make their stews. Nowadays, it’s a basic name for a wide variety of seafood and/or vegetable-thickened soups, often with milk and/or cream.
• Puree – thicker and coarser than cream soups, often based on dried legumes or starchy vegetables.
• Bisque – a thick, creamy, highly seasoned soup, classically of pureed crustaceans.
After learning all the different kinds of soups, our teacher split us up in pairs and assigned each team one of six different recipes: Chicken Consommé; Zuppa di Verdure (a minestrone); French Onion; Dungeness Crab Bisque; Black Bean and Roasted Tomatillo; and Sweet Potato Butternut Squash. Each recipe was a prime example of the different types of soups we had just learned.
My partner was a 21 year old comp-sci major at UCLA named Terry. Cute kid, but he was young enough to be my son, so I was really, really trying not to let my innate “Jewish mother” complex come out. We were assigned the crab bisque, which was exciting for me, because I had never made bisque before. Basically, this is a recipe for a heart attack, so you can understand why a healthy cook like me wouldn’t look at this as one of her go-to recipes.
My knife skills, while not unbelievable, are pretty darn good, so I let Terry chop the mirepoix while I cracked the crab and separated the meat from the shells. Seafood stock is made from the shells and you have to simmer them for an hour before you can even BEGIN to make the bisque. We both spent a lot of time looking over our classmates’ shoulders to see what they were doing while we waited for our base to be done.
The bisque part includes a cup of cream, as you might figure. However, I learned a restaurant secret which I have to share with you. Restaurants don’t use regular heavy cream. They use something called Manufacturing Cream. It’s basically fat that tastes like cream. 1 Tbsp. is 60 calories and 6 grams of fat! Holy Moly! I asked my teacher and she said this stuff whips better and makes the food taste better. I’m thinking you can use regular cream. Then you’ll only have to run 6 miles to burn off these calories instead of 10.
It was REALLY good, though! Our homework is to make one of the recipes we didn’t make that night. I made the Butternut Squash Puree. You can see that recipe on Kathy’s Blog: http://www.cathyarkle.com/shepaused4thought/