I knew I would be spending this afternoon with a dear friend, Laura, the girl I sat next to as we graduated from Duke in 1985. She’s in considerable anguish having lost her love to cancer, her soul, the man whose heart she carries in her heart, to use E.E. Cumming’s famous words. Harry, a lovely, brilliant, funny and delightful man, gone at 58. There are no words adequate to offer, only one’s presence. And soup. I roasted a chicken last night, ate some for dinner with mashed potatoes and broccoli, but saved most of it, and all the bones, to carry on the subway along with 4 carrots, 2 onions, celery, three tomatoes a bay leaf, to the upper east side. I set to work immediately, getting the bones boiling (I didn’t have much time, so with Read On »

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I’m reposting this soup because it’s such a fabulous fall soup, and the weather in the northeast has finally turned into appropriate soup weather. There’s no better fall vegetable soup than this one (ok, well, maybe French Onion). But certainly no easier soup. Even working slowly and distractedly, this soup can be on the table in twenty or thirty minutes. Which can’t be said for onion soup. It would work equally well with pumpkin if that’s your preference. When I made the above soup, I took some extra time to clean and sauté the seeds in some butter for a crunchy garnish. Fresh or whole, dried thyme leaves are the key to the flavor of this soup (don’t use the old, powdered thyme sitting in your spice rack). I still have fresh thyme in the Read On »

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Continuing a series of soup posts as the weather cools (here in the Northeast at least), I’m offering this rich vegetable garbure. Garbure hails from my favorite food region, Gascony, in the southwestern corner of France. (I wrote about it here for Conde Nast Traveler.) It would traditionally include some kind of confited meat and cabbage. This version, which I included in Ruhlman’s Twenty, gets its depth of flavor from bacon rind, but you could substitute several slices of rind-on bacon, diced, or omit the bacon completely for a vegetarian soup. But pig skin, connective tissue, is loaded with a protein called collagen, which breaks down into gelatin to give the soup great body. If you can’t find slab bacon with a rind to remove yourself, order it from your butcher or meat department. Or, better Read On »

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This is a fabulous all-purpose soup method, here used with sweet bell peppers. But you can use it for just about any vegetable—asparagus, mushroom, pea, carrot. I learned it from Thomas Keller and wrote about it in his French Laundry Cookbook. Then I wrote about it again in Ruhlman’s Twenty because it’s such a versatile method. It’s very rich, so I only serve about 1/3 cup per person. This soup makes a great appetizer. (And a reminder: my partner in tools, Mac Dalton, suggested running a sale on our soup and serving spoons through this October.) Also, if you’re in Cincinnati tomorrow, come see me at Books by the Banks, where I’ll be signing my book, In Short Measures, a collection of novellas, reviewed today, happily, by Tara Laskowski. Have a great weekend, all. Sweet Bell Pepper Read On »

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Without question, French onion is my favorite all-around soup. It’s a satisfying, nourishing meal. Not only does it have all the components of a meal—a nutritious broth, a vegetable, cheese, bread, and a big glass of a big red wine—it’s also got all the textural components that satisfy: it’s soft, voluptuous, gooey, chewy, and, if the cheese is properly browned, crispy. It’s an easy and economical soup. And best of all, it requires no stock, either homemade or store-bought. Yes, the best onion soup is made with water alone, seasoned at the end with wine and, if you wish, a few drops of vinegar. And we’re using this great soup to announce a month-long special offer on our offset soup spoons and offset serving spoon (I especially love how their being offset prevents spoons from slipping Read On »

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