Traveling Dinner Party – Part 3 – Soup Course

We’re on to the next Course in our roaming supper – Soup!! In a Ten Course Feast, this is the 3rd course of the night. For a typical six or eight course meal, we have reached the 2nd course (having combined the first two courses – cocktails and appetizers) into a single event. Speaking of appetizers . . .

Before I get started on the soup portion of our feast, I wanted to share a great recipe from Cooking with a Wall Flower.  If you’re going for a Mexican Theme for your feast, this would be a great part of the appetizer course.  If not, it’s still a yummy recipe – serve as an appetizer or just about anytime you need that buttery-avocado fix. You gotta check it out! Tomato Basil Avocado Toast

Soups – hot, cold, cream, clear . . . lots of choices. Recently I attended a work related dinner party that actually served soup as an appetizer – the most awesome Roasted Pumpkin Soup served in shot glasses. Wish I had the recipe. Although the caterer is one that works with our company frequently, there was no prying the recipe out of her. Hum, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned I have a cooking blog. Duh – ya think?

If you’re moveable feat is truly elegant, forgo the shot glass idea – but if it’s more laid back, there are so many wonderful soups that would go well in shot glasses – just about anything creamy or clear. I wouldn’t recommend say – vegetable soup or a clear broth base with a quail egg (another great soup I had years ago) to be served in a shot glass – too messy. A Pumpkin soup or a Tomato Bisque would be perfect in shot glasses, especially since you’ll want to keep the courses petite. Hubby once had Eel Soup. I wasn’t adventurous enough to try it. But hey, on Halloween eel soup in shot glasses might not be a bad idea.

Since we are barely half-way through a multi-course production, I’ve selected soup recipes that can be served light. After all, while “stars” in their own right, the soup should not be so filling as to leave no room for the courses to follow. Served in smaller portions, a cream based soup or clarified Consommé are the perfect choices. Now if your theme is childhood memories, good ol’ Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup would be a fun and easy alternative to soups made from scratch.

****** Cream Based Soups ******

French Onion Soup served in Onion Bowls
6-8 whole Onions, hollowed for “bowls” (Red makes for a nice presentation)
1/2 stick Butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
8 cups, thinly sliced Onions (reserved onion from “bowls” + 3-4 whole onions)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Flour
8 cups Beef Broth
1/4 cup Cognac (Hennessy recommended)
1 cup Dry White Wine (Château St Michelle Sauvignon Blanc recommended)
6-8 slices French baguette
3/4 pound, grated Gruyère Cheese

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. While oven is heating, prepare onion bowls.

Hollow out the insides of the whole onions, keeping an outer layer and the bottom intact, reserve onions for the soup. Wrap onion bowls in individual pieces of foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Unwrap and set aside.

Place reserved onions in a measuring cup. Slice additional onions to measure 8 cups, set aside until ready to use.

Heat a heavy sauce pan over moderate heat with the butter and oil. When the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover and cook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Blend in the salt and sugar, increase the heat to medium high and let onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour and cook slowly, stirring for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool a moment, then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well-blended, bring to a simmer adding the rest of the stock, Cognac and wine.

Cover loosely, and simmer very slowly 1 ½ hours, adding a little water if the liquid reduces too much.

While soup simmers, toast baguettes, then store in an air-tight container until ready to use. Taste soup for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Add soup to the hollowed out onions, then place toast on top along with a generous sprinkle of cheese.

Place under preheated high broiler until cheese melts and become a little brown.

Top with a leaf of parsley. Serve hot.

Pumpkin Soup Cordials
1/2 cup butter
1 minced onion
30 ozs pumpkin (cooked)
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (sour cream)
2 tablespoons Chopped Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (garnish, optional)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Add onion; sauté until tender but not brown. Stir in pumpkin, chicken broth, heavy cream and seasonings. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Pour soup into a large glass measuring cup, the CAREFULLY pour into cordial glasses. Top each glass with a dollop of crème fraîche. If desires, garnish with chopped roasted pumpkin seeds.

The beauty of a chilled soup is that it can be made well in advance; then left to chill until the party. You could even arrange in small bowls or glasses, place on a serving tray and simply whip them out at the appropriate time.

****** Gazpacho ******

Gazpacho is a thick, flavorful soup from the Andalusia region of Spain. It usually has a tomato base, is thickened with bread crumbs. Gazpacho is always served cold.

The recipe for Gazpacho with Serrano Chilies comes from William-Sonoma.  Here, a beautiful cold soup is spiced up with hot Serrano chilies.

Gazpacho with Serrano Chilies
4 large red bell peppers, about 1 1/2 lb. total
1-1/4 lb. tomatoes
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Serrano chilies, seeded and minced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 Teaspoon snipped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat a broiler.

Arrange the red bell peppers on a baking sheet and place in the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source. Broil, turning with tongs, until the pepper skins are blistered and charred black on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place the peppers in a paper bag and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the stem from each pepper and discard. Slit the pepper open, then remove and discard the seeds and ribs. Remove the blackened skin with a small knife.

Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Using the largest holes on a box grater placed over a bowl, grate the tomato halves. Discard the skins. In a food processor, pulse the cucumber chunks until coarsely pureed. Add to the bowl. Process the roasted peppers until coarsely pureed. Add to the bowl. Stir in the yellow bell pepper, chilies, onion, garlic, the 2 tablespoons. olive oil, the vinegar and salt.

Cover and refrigerate until slightly chilled.

Ladle the chilled gazpacho into individual glasses or bowls and garnish with the avocado. Sprinkle with the chives and oregano and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately. (This recipe serves 4. Increase as necessary to accommodate your party.)

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
6 medium size yellow tomatoes
1 English cucumber, peeled
1/2 sweet onion
1 yellow pepper, cored and seeded
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup white grape juice
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
salt and pepper
6 grape tomatoes, minced
1 tablespoon coarse salt (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Peel yellow tomatoes and cucumbers, set aside. (If desired, create roses or adornments from the peel, or discard)

Chop onion, core yellow pepper, and peel garlic, set aside.

Put the yellow tomatoes, cucumber, onion, yellow pepper, garlic, white grape juice and white wine vinegar in a blender and process until very smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill in the fridge until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or overnight.

While gazpacho chills, seed and chop jalapeno pepper

When serving, garnish with minced grape tomatoes, jalapeno and chopped parsley.

Can be served in small bowls or juice/shot glasses. If serving in shot glasses, mix salt and finely chopped parsley. Moisten rim of shot glass, dip in salted parsley, then fill with Gazpacho.

Another great idea would be to make a batch of each, and layer the chilled Gazpacho into pretty glasses.

****** Consommés ******

In my opinion, of the clear soup variety, a true Consommé is the way to go. Like any of the finer things in life, this take time to make and perfect. The key to creating a crystal-clear consommé is the use of egg whites, which trap and filter the impurities that make the stock appear cloudy. Called a “raft,” the egg whites float on the top of the pot until the stock is clarified. A bouquet garni (a tied bundle of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf) can add beautiful flavor and depth to the stock while it simmers. There is some debate as to whether to start with a cold stock or warm stock to which the raft is then added. Some say to use a warm stock, allowing the raft to draw out the impurities. Others swear by the cold stock, and allowing the raft to float to the top. The danger of a cold stock is the movement of the liquid as it heats disrupting the egg whites. It’s really all a matter of fine tuning your skills as to which method will work best for you.

Chicken Consommé with Snipped Herbs
6 cups unsalted, homemade chicken stock or prepared chicken stock, cold
1 small leek, well washed, trimmed and minced
1 small carrot, grated
3 fresh parsley sprigs, minced
8 ounces ground chicken breast
2 egg whites
Kosher salt

Put the stock in a large saucepan.

Stir together the leek, carrot, and parsley in bowl of a food processor. Add the ground chicken, egg whites, and 2 tablespoons water. Pulse to mix well. Stir this mixture into the stock in a saucepot.

Bring the stock very slowly to the boil, stirring constantly. The egg mixture will congeal and form a “raft” on the top of the stock, collecting all the impurities from the stock. As soon as it begins to boil, stop stirring and turn the heat down to low. A hole will have formed on the top of the “raft”.

Make it slightly larger with a spoon, and then simmer the stock very gently for 45 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth. Using a skimmer, lift off as much egg white from the top of the consommé as you can, and discard. Ladle the consommé into the lined strainer and let it drip through in its own good time. Don’t be tempted to press it or you’ll make it cloudy.

When it has all dripped through, season and taste the consommé. Season the consommé with salt, if needed. Serve hot or cold with the garnish of your choice.

Chilled Tomato Consommé
1 1/2 lb fennel (sometimes called anise; 1 large bulb or 2 small)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 lb tomatoes (preferably plum), quartered and puréed in a food processor
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
8 large egg whites, chilled
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup ice, lightly crushed if cubes are large
10 oz mixed yellow and red pear tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar

Cut fronds from fennel stalks and reserve. Cut whole fennel (with stalks) in half lengthwise and core. Separate layers, reserving 3 or 4 tender inner pieces, and coarsely chop remaining fennel, including stalks.

Cook onions, garlic, and chopped fennel in oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in puréed tomato, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.

Pour tomato mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a 4-quart saucepan, pressing hard on solids and then discarding them, and bring tomato broth to a full boil.

Whisk together egg whites, herbs, ice, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl until frothy, then quickly pour into boiling broth, whisking vigorously 2 or 3 times. (Egg mixture will rise to surface and form a “raft.”) When broth returns to a simmer, find a place where bubbles break through raft and gently enlarge hole to the size of a ladle. Cook broth at a bare simmer, uncovered, without stirring (keep raft opening clear by gently spooning out any froth), until broth is clear, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat and, disturbing raft as little as possible, carefully ladle out consommé through opening in raft, tilting saucepan as necessary, and transfer to cleaned fine-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of dampened paper towels set over a bowl or large glass measure.

Discard raft. Chill consommé, uncovered, until cold, about 1 1/2 hours.

Just before serving, season consommé with salt. Slice reserved tender fennel into thin slivers and toss with fennel fronds, pear tomatoes, and vinegar. Divide consommé and tomato mixture among chilled bowls.

Consommé Célestine starts with a home-made chicken stock that is later “purified” into a beautiful, crystal clear consommé with wonderful Crêpes “noodles”.  This great recipe is just one of many I stumbled upon while cruising Chow.com.  I love the idea of the noodles.

Consommé Célestine
Ingredients for the Stock
1 roasted chicken carcass
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 quarts (12 cups) water
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Using a cleaver or kitchen scissors, break up the carcass into several smaller pieces so that they will fit in an even layer in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven; set aside.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the carcass pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned all over, about 8 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer (do not let the stock come to a boil).

Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, occasionally skimming any scum off the surface of the stock using a large spoon. Cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the stock at a simmer, until the flavors have developed, about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove and discard any large pieces of carcass. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a 2-quart saucepan and pour the stock through the strainer (you should have about 6 cups). Discard the contents of the strainer. Let the stock cool to room temperature and refrigerate until chilled. (At this point you can also transfer the stock to a container with a tight-fitting lid and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Ingredients for the Crêpes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, for cooking the crêpes

Place the flour, milk, egg, and salt in a blender. Blend on high-speed until combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the herbs and pulse to combine. Keep the mixture in the blender with the lid on and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight. (If the batter separates, blend it again for a few seconds just before cooking the crêpes.)

Ingredients for the Consommé
1 pound cold ground chicken
6 large egg whites, chilled
1 medium yellow onion, small dice (about 2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and small dice (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium celery stalk, small dice (about 1/3 cup)
4 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

Using your hands, mix the chicken, egg whites, onion, carrot, and celery in a large bowl until combined. Refrigerate until the mixture is very cold, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of butcher’s twine; set aside.

Stir the lemon juice and measured salt into the egg white–chicken mixture and transfer it to a large saucepan. Pour in the 6 cups of chilled stock and stir to combine. Place the pan over medium heat and stir occasionally until a soft, gray mass forms (the “raft”) and rises to the surface, about 25 minutes. The liquid will be bubbling and foaming along the edges of the pan. Immediately stop stirring the mixture.

Reduce the heat to low so that the liquid is barely simmering and only small bubbles appear around the sides of the raft. Using a spoon, create a 2- to 3-inch hole in the center of the raft and tuck the herb bundle into it.

Keep the mixture at a low simmer, basting the raft about every 10 minutes with liquid from the center opening, being careful not to disturb the raft, until the liquid is completely clear and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a low simmer and to keep the raft intact.

Meanwhile, cook the crêpes.

Melt 1 piece of the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet or 8-inch crêpe pan over medium heat until foaming. Swirl the butter around to coat the bottom of the pan.

Pour in 1/4 cup of the batter and immediately swirl and tilt the pan to create a thin, even layer. (If the batter sets before the skillet is coated, reduce the heat slightly. The next crêpe will be better.)

Return the pan to the heat and cook until the crêpe is set around the edges and dry in the center but not browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Loosen the edges of the crêpe with a rubber spatula. Tilt the skillet, sliding half of the crêpe off the skillet and onto the spatula. Flip both the spatula and crêpe over so that the crêpe lands back in the pan and cook until the other side is set but not browned, about 20 seconds more.

Transfer to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter, stacking the finished crêpes on top of one another until you have 6 crêpes total. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

To Finish And Assemble The Consommé: Line a fine-mesh strainer with a standard paper coffee filter and set it over a large heat-proof bowl.

Avoiding pieces of the raft, carefully ladle the liquid (the consommé) into the lined strainer and stop when you get near the bottom of the pan. Make sure that the bottom of the strainer does not come in contact with the consommé in the bowl, or the solids and grease trapped in the filter will cloud the consommé. Discard the raft. Gently blot the surface of the consommé with a clean piece of parchment paper or coffee filter to remove any grease floating on the surface. Taste and season with salt as needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Just before serving, cut 2 of the crêpes into 1/8-inch-wide strips (reserve the remaining crêpes for another use). Divide the crêpe strips among 6 to 8 soup cups. Top with the consommé and serve immediately.

Other Soup Suggestions:

Crab Bisque Made Simple

Duarte’s Tavern Cream of Artichoke Soup

TGIF – Black Bean Soup

************

Need to catch up? Here are the links to earlier installments:

Crazy Dinner Party – A Moveable Feast – Part 1

Crazy Dinner Party – A Moveable Feast – Part 2

5 thoughts on “Traveling Dinner Party – Part 3 – Soup Course

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