Having nice weather in San Diego 95% of the time, I appreciate the rain. The timing is perfect this weekend as we are expecting rain off and on, and I have a friend coming into town; a foodie friend that happens to be incredibly low maintenance and fun.
There will be wine, there will be food, and there will be a lot of catching up; that’s simply how we roll. We will also be joined by a couple of other friends and Chuck.
Soup seems like the obvious choice for dinner when the weather is cold and wet, but the question is, what kind? Over the years I have devised the perfect solution: offer a variety.
Not as daunting as it may seem; when you have a handful of tried and true recipes available, it’s really not so hard. Besides, making soup on a rainy day can be almost as fun as eating it.
I got a jump start on almost everything today (including several loaves of pumpkin bread) so that will leave more time for play tomorrow. The beauty of soups is that they are usually best the day after, as their flavors have plenty of time to marry.
So here’s the line-up:
French Onion – Pretty basic recipe, with some sautéed mushrooms mixed in with the (three types of) caramelized onion. I make my own garlic croutons, which I float on each crock of soup; then I top that with three types of cheese: Swiss, Mozzarella and Parmesan. Under the broiler the individual crocks go, for about 5 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.
Pork Noodle – I devoted a whole blog post to this last summer – https://kellydanek.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/day-23-pork-noodle-soup-a-taste-of-the-past/ – Basically it’s like a Chinese chicken noodle soup, with several enhancements, garnished with slices of pork loin and boiled egg, & chopped green onions. A drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil and this might become your new “Jewish Penicillin.”
Panela Soup – The base is similar to that of a tortilla soup: a purée of charred, chopped Pasilla chilies, sautéed onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, cilantro and chicken broth. The pièce de résistance is Mexican Panela cheese, cut into chunks and dropped into the hot soup. The cheese softens, but doesn’t melt – crazy, huh? I might garnish it with some julienned, fried tortilla strips.
Seafood Chowder – A recipe that has evolved from the New England style clam chowder I made as a kid. Pretty traditional, with salt pork, Gorton’s canned clams; these days I add fresh shrimp and cubed jumbo scallops (I used to use bay scallops, but they get too rubbery).
Crusty bread should round things out nicely for our potpourri of soups. Besides the crocks already brimming with French Onion soup, I have an assortment of bowls and demitasse cups (great for tasting, and for small servings) which I set out near the stove. The soups stay hot on the stove, and everyone files in and serves themselves.
I haven’t nailed down dessert yet, but I am leaning toward slightly toasted pumpkin bread topped with French Vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Amaretto. My sweet-toothed husband is usually great at helping me figure out dessert.
My friend Jim suggested we see the uncut version of The Exorcist (I have the DVD), so after dinner we’ll all huddle on the big couch in the living room, lights down, and settle in for a good scare.
Good thing I left Split Pea off the soup line-up.
Have a great weekend, everyone!