Soup is one of Nico’s favorite “food categories” and has been perfect through this strange cold spell on the east coast these past few weeks. Nico made a request for some kind of pumpkin soup, so I figured we would go for a butternut squash and carrot. I like to roast the squash and carrots to shorten the soup cooking time but also to give a sweetness and smokiness to the vegetables that is generally not activated with just boiling them.
When I was in Philadelphia last month, I bought a bit under a pound of prosciutto chunks…you know, just in case! I decided today was the day to use them. I was craving peas, and wanted to make a split pea soup. I did not have any smoked ham-hocks left, and have never liked the flavor of chunks of regular ham, so in went the prosciutto! Smoked meats give this soup a really lovely complex flavor.
Today, it is time for a Russian classic! In fact, when you think about Russian food, this dish is probably what you are picturing an older lady with a handkerchief covered head stirring with a large wooden spoon. Yes, borscht. It may or may not be a stereotype, but it is definitely a classic!
The Bouillabaisse is foolproof! Bouillabaisse originates from Marseilles and was made of cheap cuts of fish and eaten by fishermen who reserved the better cuts to sell. Since then, it has become a quintessential dish. It is served with baguette and a Rouille drizzled into the soup to add flavor, much in the same way that sour cream is added to the Russian Borsht.
Today, I wanted to make some fried green tomatoes, but figured the acidic baby tomatoes would be a great topping for a sweet corn velouté. A velouté is a French term meaning velvet. It refers to soups that are thickened with butter and cream and eggs. I have made a Celery and Asparagus Veloutés with Bacon Croutons, both are Nico’s favorite soups. My friend Anwar handed me 8 ears of corn earlier this week, which felt like a rarity for the season, I decided they would make a perfect velvety soup! In this iteration, I thicken the soup with cream, potatoes, and a bit of duck fat to pair with the Fried Green Tomatoes which are fried in duck fat.
When I was inviting friends to dinner, I had to explain what Cassoulet was to our non-French friends. The best description I could come up with was “pork and pork and pork and pork, duck and duck fat bean stew.” Cassoulet involves 8 different type of pig and duck meats/products. It is an incredibly rich and warming meal, perfect for the change of the weather. The complex flavor is developed by slowly stewing and roasting ham hocks, pork shoulder, pork skin, prosciutto and pancetta and made further complex by the use of duck fat and duck confit. The Tabais or cannellini beans disperse the meatiness to create what tastes like chili for the gods.
Red wine is delicious with lentils, and I knew these flavors would pair really well with the earthiness of my Chanterelle mushrooms. I was not wrong! This is a delicious dish, and really easy to make. Just combine the ingredients and simmer for a half an hour and you are ready for dinner!
This dish seemed like a perfect representation of our Communal Dinners. The Yose Nabe (Seafood Hot Pot) is a mixture of all of the fish you can think of, like a gathering of friends. Some even add chicken thighs and tofu to the mix. To make it even more communal, the dish is generally served in separate parts on the dining table with the broth simmering directly on a butane stove in the center of the table. Everyone adds whatever they would like to eat, cooking together and bringing more and more complexity to the delicious broth!