Football is only one reason I
dread love autumn. I also enjoy the return of soup season. I kicked it off Labor Day weekend by making fish stock out of halibut and snapper, then used it to make a pot of bouillabase-style soup. There was enough stock leftover to make trout chowder this weekend.
Soups are my culinary speciality. Where I usually am happy to throw something together in the kitchen, I like to take my time with soups. I am also willing to go off recipe, to wing it, to try new things. Soups are a lesson in both patience (since they take a long time to cook) and restraint (since the temptation is to keep throwing in more stuff, but the best soups have a handful of selected ingredients and flavors). They are worth the trouble, though, since they can make a lot of meals and freeze well.
I discovered soup making just after I bought my house and finally enjoyed a regular kitchen (even a cramped one), and began to invest in wonders like food processors and soup kettles. Once I discovered the Le Crueset Dutch Oven, I put the electric kettle away forever.
My favorites include a soup-like chili with jalapenos, garlic, and black beans; a Greek-style chicken with lemon juice and eggs; an “Oktoberfest” soup with sausage and cabbage; tomato with bacon and gorgonzola cheese; and a “buffalo” chicken soup that’s bright red and red hot. These are all just runner ups behind the soup that’s way out in front, though: French Onion Soup.
I made this soup a few years ago, and it’s now my favorite thing to cook. I even wrote a story about it which will be published in Highlights for Children, but I’m not sure when. The Zen-like simplicity of the ingredients and the slow miracle of the caramelizing onions make it a wonderful experience simply to do. The soup is delicious, of course, but getting there is half the fun. I’ll be making beef stock this weekend, and the onion soup will follow.
Here’s a video we made last year in soup season, with our friend Henri, an excellent chef.