SPOILER ALERT: You get THREE recipes today. All prize-winning soups!
Last week, I hosted the second annual Soup’s On! contest. If you’re new to Sly Rooster, here’s the drill:
–a large pot of homemade soup, with any accoutrements (this is key)
–copies of their recipe
–$10 entry fee
All contestants have the opportunity to taste and judge each of the soups. Rest assured that this is in no way a formal process, more of a cocktail party with plenty of wine to wash down the soups. In the end, prizes are awarded for second and third place, while the first place soup chef takes home the entry fee money. Everyone goes home with a stack of take-home containers of soup for the fridge/freezer/family.
So back to last week, boy did my neighborhood friends crank it up a couple of notches. There was not a single soup replicated. They ran the gamut from Black Bean Soup to Corn and Crab Bisque. There were exotic entries, as in a Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Chimichurri and Poblano Creme Fraiche and more humble offerings with a Best-Ever Split Pea. I am being honest when I say that there wasn’t a bad soup in the lot.
And the garnishes…oh the garnishes! Crispy onions, grilled cheese cubes, mini popovers, peanuts, seasoned oyster crackers, bacon–the list goes on.
In the end, a traditional French potage claimed first place. The Golden Winter Soup originally ran in the Cooking Light January/February 2008 issue and has been a regular in Melanie’s rotation. It was perfectly seasoned and silky smooth, owing to a whirl in her Vitamix. As a matter of fact, this soup might just may be my tipping point in finally stepping up to make that Vitamix investment.
- 2 Tbls butter
- 5 c (1/2-inch) cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs)
- 2 c (1/2-inch) cubed, peeled russet potato (about 12 oz)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 c sliced leek (about 2 medium)
- 4 c fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 1 c half-and-half
- 12 oz baguette, cut into 16 slices
- 3/4 c (3 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
- 3 Tbls chopped chives
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Preheat broiler.
- Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add squash, potato, salt and pepper to pan; sauté 3 minutes.
- Add leek; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth; bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.
- Place half of potato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over the opening in the blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
- Repeat procedure with remaining potato mixture. Stir in half-and-half. Cover and keep warm.
- Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil bread slices 2 minutes or until golden.
- Ladle 1 cup soup into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with about 1 tsp chives and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with 2 bread slices per bowl. Enjoy!
- This soup was a winner even without the cheese toasts.
Second place honors went to a Thai Butternut Soup which ironically also came from Cooking Light. The soup had a subtle heat and the end product was elevated by garnishes of chopped peanut, cilantro and lime juice.
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1 c chopped onion
- 2 1/2 tsp red curry paste (could add more for extra heat)
- 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 c fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth (contestant used vegetable broth)
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 (12-oz) packages frozen pureed butternut squash
- 1 (14-oz) can light coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Add onion, sauté 3 minutes. Add curry paste, garlic, and ginger; sauté 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through salt); cover. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Place half of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into large bowl.
- Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture.
- Spoon about 1 cup soup into each of four bowls; top with 2 Tbls peanuts and 1 Tbls cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
And, last but certainly not least–standing out from the pack–was the third place prize-winner, Convert Tomato Soup adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup. I actually voted for this soup as my hands down favorite and it was the first leftover container that I reheated for lunch the following day. I enjoy tomato soup but most of the recipes that I have made seem to taste just like tomato sauce. Now don’t get me wrong, I could eat a bowl of tomato sauce with a spoon but that just doesn’t seem like soup. This tomato soup was rich and delicious like a sauce while still being soup-like. The winner served it with crispy grilled cheese sandwiches cut into bite-sized cubes. A clever touch but when polishing off my leftovers, I didn’t miss the cheese cubes at all.
- 2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 1/2 Tbls brown sugar
- 4 Tbls unsalted butter
- 4 shallots, chopped finely
- 1 Tbls tomato paste
- 1 Tbls flour
- 1 1/2 c vegetable broth
- 1/4 c cream
- basil (12 leaves, gently torn)
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/4 c)
- 2 Tbls dry sherry
- cayenne pepper
- Heat oven to 425F. Seed canned tomatoes over a strainer, collecting juice in a bowl underneath (reserve). Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 20-30 minutes, until most liquid is gone and tomatoes begin to color. Let cool slightly.
- Melt butter in dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallots and tomato paste, mix until combined. Lower heat, cover and cook 7-8 minutes until shallots are soft, stir occasionally.
- Add flour and stir until completely incorporated and cooked, about 1 minute.
- Slowly add the broth until combined, then stir in reserved juice from the tomatoes as well as the roasted tomatoes.
- Cover, bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain the soup to separate the solids from the liquid (reserve liquid in the pot). Place solids in a blender along with the basil leaves and some of the liquid from the pot to create a smooth consistency, then add that pureed mixture back to the rest of the liquid in the pot.
- Stir in cream and continue to cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Slowly stir in the cheese. Remove from the heat and stir in sherry. Season further with cayenne and salt, to taste.