Archive for the ‘sans meat’ Category

Admittedly, winter is the prime time for Soup Night: there’s the warmth of the bowl, the warmth of the red wine, the warmth of being inside, the warmth of the general coziness. But in summertime, Soup Nights come with white wine, fruit desserts, bare feet, and soups served cold. It’s just as fun.

As we learned when my dad came to town, the best way we know to honor a guest is to throw a Soup Night for him/her/them.

This time, Ryan’s parents were in town, which automatically signed us up for some of his Ma’s Gazpacho, a longtime favorite in his household.

My brother Rob was in NYC too. He doesn’t have enough kitchen years in him to have a recipe named after him yet — give him time, folks, I’ve no doubt there’ll be one soon — but I couldn’t escape all of those summer memories as a kid of shucking corn with him and my other brothers.

I ended up with a chilled corn recipe, taken from last month’s Gourmet, but doctored heavily. When I did the soup test run the weekend before, the soup was deemed to thin (would slosh easily, wouldn’t feel substantial) for a Soup Night contender. Yet, the more I looked at corn recipes, the less I could shake it’s chilled simplicity.

I decided to experiment. After consulting some food-savvies, I went with a combination of their suggestions: Added a roux, added a potato, added some cream.

Both soups were deemed delicious. Success!

I’ll post the recipes in a minute, but first, here’s a snapshot of the night in numbers:

Soupers: 46

First-time soupers: 26

Pounds of tomatoes gazpachoed: 8

Ears of corn shucked: 25

Featured out-of-town guests: 3

Super secret featured out-of-town guests: 1

Amazing desserts brought: At least six

Soup Nights looked forward to: All to come

Ma’s Gazpacho
Serves 4

1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 small green pepper, seeded and sliced
3 tomatoes, quartered
1 large cucumber, peeled, sliced and seeded
1 clove garlic
1/2 t dried or fresh basil
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chilled chicken broth*

-Blend until almost smooth. Chill.

*for this Soup Night, we substituted vegetable broth for our lovely vegan friends.

Chilled Corn Soup
Serves 6

3 ears of corn, shucked
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T butter
4 1/2 c water
Garnish: sour cream and chives. I also recommend: dill!

– Cut kernels from cobs with a sharp knife, then cut cobs into thirds.

– Cook onion and garlic in butter with 1/4 tsp salt in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn and cobs, water, and salt and pepper to taste and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

– Discard cobs, then puree corn mixture in batches in a blender until very smooth. Force soup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

– Chill until cold, at least 1 hour.


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Asparagus Avgolemono

The first official soup of spring is here!

When Wiley lent me his Moosewood Simple Suppers cookbook, this recipe was dog-eared. “It’s so easy,” he said. “And so, so good.”

There were two things about this that appealed to me: One, that it featured asparagus, and two, that it was based on the classic Greek lemon/rice soup called avgolemono.

Turns out, Wiley was right on both accounts. This soup consisted of just a handful of ingredients: vegetable broth, orzo, asparagus, dill, egg, lemon juice, and three steps.

When my dinner companion found out I was making an avgolemono, he literally cheered, as it was one of his favorite foods as a child. We made a funny pair of judges: He, the avgolemono lover, and I, the avgolemono novice.

And the verdict?

“Could use more lemon,” he said. “But yum.”

“Yum, indeed,” I said. “But where’s the salt and pepper?”

Want to make it? Here’s one that’s similar, albeit a bit more complicated: Asparagus and Dill Avgolemono (from Gourmet via epicurious.com)

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To the untrained eye, it looks like spring is right around NYC’s corner. You’ve got sunny days, birds, little buds of green dotting tree branches. But as anyone who’s lived here for more than one spring knows you should still wear shoes that require socks. Don’t pack away the duvet just yet. And, it’s still cool enough at night to want to hold a warm bowl of hearty soup in your hands.

I went to Wiley’s for dinner and he made an amazing Arugula, Potato, and Bread Soup. The culinary nerd in me was excited for two main reasons: I’d never had bread soup before, and when Wiley’s cooking, you know you are going to leave happy.

Admittedly, I was too busy probing the other dinner guest for travel hints of spending a weekend in Montauk to watch this soup come to life. But as evidenced by how much time Wiley spent chatting with up (a lot) and how much time he spent in front of the stove (not a lot), I’d venture to say this soup was a pretty easy one to make.

The recipe was from a Lidia Bastianich cookbook (I’m pretty sure it was this one), which is appropriate because bread soup is a classic Italian family supper meal. Perfect for a laid-back Sunday evening, don’t you think?

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“So…dinner! What shall it be?”


“I’m actually not even all that hungry, so whatever you want is fine.”

“Well, I’ve been eating a lot of fried food. That’s all they eat down there.”

“That was exactly me a week ago. Eating when you’re traveling is…well, not good.”

“Yeah. So…vitamins. Vegetables. Healthy.”

“I have frozen mushroom broth.”

“Maybe greens? Let’s add greens.”

“Rice too.”


“I’ll be over soon.”

And just like that, the “I’ve been eating crap for a week, I need to get something good in me NOW but I don’t want to go grocery shopping” soup was born.

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Handful of mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces (we used baby bellas)
  • Thyme
  • 1 qt. mushroom broth
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 c. cooked brown rice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, cook until fragrant and translucent. Add mushrooms, cook until tender.

Add thyme, mushroom broth, simmer for a bit before adding spinach. When spinach cooks down, add cream and cooked rice.

Serve with Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

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In these parts, parents visiting usually means “Get everyone together.” Of course, in La Soupe speak, that translates to “Get everyone together and eat soup.”

Dad swooped into NYC for one night this week, so I got the neighborhood crew (+ a few Manhattanite stow-aways) together and welcomed him in the best way we know how: throwing a Soup Night in his honor.


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After a morning of walking around Istanbul’s three greatest sights in the slight rain, you can imagine how good it felt to sit down to a bowl of this:

It was not too thin, but not too thick, either, with a very smooth taste. Eventually I squirted in some lemon from the wedge, and that was even delicious. Though the rest of the lunch was tasty, I would have been just as happy with a couple more bowls of this soup.

Lentil soup is one of the best combinations of amazing taste and low price you can find in the food world. While some recipes include various vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, carrots) and herbs (mint is very common, and paprika too), some are no more than lentils, broth, onions, and some kind of oil.

(Note: Although many of these recipes call for a meat stock, I’m going to label it as vegetarian because the switch to vegetable broth is an easy one to make.)

Want to make it yourself? Try one of these recipes:

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