S.O.U.P.S. (Seattle's Own Undeniably Perfect Soups)

S.O.U.P.S. (Seattle's Own Undeniably Perfect Soups)

By Michael Congdon (Sasquatch Books, $15.95 paper) Some professional cooks like the spotlight: They're the ones who aspire to be called "chef." Other cooks actually prefer the anonymity that goes with being known as a sous chef or a lunch chef. While the boss sweats maintaining the star menu lineup, such assistants often have leeway to play around a little, with salads, appetizers, and soups. Michael Congdon has such a job; as lunch chef at Capitol Hill's Hopvine Pub, he's been able to indulge a passion for soup, and make his customers passionate enough in turn to demand recipes from him. At first he provided same gratis; then, as demand increased, he started charging; now, thanks to Sasquatch Books, he's providing a broader public with more than 70 of his keepers, along with a few salads and even desserts that turn a bowl of soup into a satifying meal. The soups are organized by season, to facilitate shopping for ingredients, and Sasquatch has done a lovely job of laying out the recipes to make the book eminently useful in the working kitchen. ROGER DOWNEY CELERY AND ROQUEFORT SOUP One hour preparation time

Yields eight one-cup servings Surprisingly strong and pungent, this soup should be served only to people who truly enjoy Roquefort. Crumble more cheese on top or serve with celery ribs and minced parsley. I also suggest slivered almonds to add crunch and a subtle nutty flavor to the soup. 1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 bunch celery, finely sliced, including leaves

Kosher salt

3/4 cup Roquefort or blue cheese

1 cup milk

1/2 bunch parsley stems and leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

Black peppercorns, cracked

4 cups vegetable (or other) stock

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon celery seeds 1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over high heat without browning. Add the onion and celery with 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well, lower the heat to medium, cover, and let simmer until reduced at least by half, 20 to 30 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, purée the cheese and the milk in the food processor until smooth. If necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate pieces of cheese. Set aside. 3. Once the onion and celery have reduced, add the parsley, wine, peppercorns, and the stock and mix well. Cover and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the liquid is hot. 4. Remove the pot from the heat. Purée and strain the contents. Discard anything that remains at the bottom of the strainer. Thoroughly clean out the pot. 5. Return the purée to the pot. Add the cheese purée, the cream, and the celery seeds. Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes. The soup's color should be a very pale green. 6. Remove from the heat. Top the soup with slivered almonds before serving or use celery stalks, crumbled cheese, and minced parsley. From S.O.U.P.S (Seattle's Own Undeniably Perfect Soups)by Michael Congdon. Sasquatch Books, 2004

 
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