Archive for October, 2001

Soup in the News

Soup sales increase by 5%! In a happy convergence of events, Americans are discovering the joy of soup just as Campbell’s has decided to add more chicken to its chicken soup. The Soup Lady finds it just a bit worrisome that this newspaper article makes reference to the fact that major corporate dollars are being spent to ” develop new ingredients for soup.” Lordy, lordy.

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It turns out that The Soup Lady is not the only one enamored of vintage cookbooks.

The newest additon to the recipe link list, Simply Lee, has a
long list of older cookbooks, including one with the intriguing name of The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook, 1954. And Tina inherited her Aunt Betty’s
entire collection, where the outstanding 1955 Crisco Cookbook was found. The thing that makes these old books so facinating is that they are a window into a life-style that doesn’t exist anymore. Start reading a recipe that
begins: render 2 cups of lard and you know that you are in another world. Maybe in the very near future, these cooks will share excerpts from their collections with us.

And now, because all of the Stangl pictures have scrolled off the page, and I don’t want you to lose the mood, here is a special treat:

Stangl Bittersweet Mug

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The Soup lady often hears from people who like to share their soup experiences. Letters, recollections and ramblings about soup will be featured
here. The first Soup Guest is Dave Roberts, who shares his grandmother’s recipe for Sauerkraut Soup.

Hi, Soup Lady! All recipes from Lee Park are By-Guess and By-Golly. When I tried making the comfort foods of my childhood, they came out surprisingly well just from memories of playing in the kitchen while Mom and Gramma cooked. (Pie dough or bread dough was my Play-doe.)
I didn’t have the ingredients fresh out of the back yard garden or chicken yard,
but I was pleased with my results. Here is my best recollection.

Sauerkraut Soup:

Without benefit of getting Sauerkraut from the crock in the cellar where cabbage in brine and vinegar was being pressed and turned into Sauerkraut,
here goes…

2 jars of Klaussen Sauerkraut (is that a pound each?)
A package of Pork Spareribs (2-3 pounds?)
Medium to large onion
Some Allspice (10?)
Some Cloves (5?)
Bay Leave (1 or 2)
Caraway Seeds (at least a half tsp. to 1 tsp.)
Cracked Black pepper
Some new potatoes

Brown the spareribs in your stockpot in a bit of bacon grease that you save in a 3-lb. coffee can in the fridge. You can substitute oil, but why bother. Slice the onion into rings and the rings into halves. When the spareribs are halfway browned toss in the onions surprising them. Let them get opaque.Add about 8 cups of water, the allspice, cloves, bay leaves (be sure to break the bay leaves in half) and caraway seed. Bring to a boil then cover with a tilted lid to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat falls off the bones. (Skim away the froth if you like.

The alternative method is to transfer the soup to a different pot after it reduces and the froth is stuck to the side of this pot or just wipe away the stuck froth with a damp rag.) Remove the bones from your stockpot. You can also take the meat out at this point and slice it up to a manageable soup size. Toss the meat back in and add the sauerkraut including the sauerkraut juice**. Let it simmer another half hour.

Peel and quarter your new potatoes. Boil them, but not till they are too soft. Remember these will go into a soup that will be heated and re-heated. Drain the potatoes saving the water for your plants that love starchy water. Add the potatoes to the soup. Correct the seasoning at this point adding more water if desired. Let it stand while the potatoes absorb the sauerkraut flavor. Serve it with thick slices of Jewish Rye or Pumpernickel.

This is a great “second day soup”. When you remove the pot-o-soup from the fridge on the second day, simply scrape the layer of coagulated grease from the top. Gramma used to love to spread this grease on a piece of warm rye bread. How she lived to 93 is a medical mystery.

If you really want to really do this right, make a stock using a ham bone and the herbs and spices listed above. Using this method, when you remove the soup from the fridge on the second day it will be totally congealed and look like Sauerkraut Jello. Actually a variation on that soup uses stewed tomatoes and smoked kielbasa, but I prefer that as a sandwich.

You can try this one too. Cut a ring of smoked keilbasa into hotdog sized pieces. Add a jar of Claussen sauerkraut drained. Season with caraway seeds. Dump in a jar of stewed tomatoes and heat thoroughly. Serve on your favorite hoagie bun. (Mom usually cut the kielbasa in half lengthwise for each sandwich.) When I was a kid, I called these “Yoagies” for YUM and HOAGIE.) Dave Roberts,

**The Soup lady recommends rinsing the brine from the sauerkraut before it is added to the pot.

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Mon Dieu!

Poutine!! de frites avec du fromage! Le cuisine lunatique!

The Soup Lady was wounded by the mocking comments regarding beef jello, so, in an effort to spare the feelings of others, never a critical word will be uttered here about the Canadian habit of adding brown gravy, mayonaisse, and hot cheese curds to french fries. With thanks to Geek ’em Glory for the background information and Lilly White for the links.

Please refer all questions and commentary to them. I’m sure they will enjoy hearing from you.

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The Soup Lady has cookbooks that span many decades. They are a window to other times and reflect lifestyles that don’t exist anymore, except in classic cinema.

I have two versions of The Joy of Cooking. The first one is a set of two paperbacks published in 1964. I took these with me when I set up my first apartment. I don’t know what I was thinking- maybe I would be hostessing glamorous soirees and would need to know how to make Rolled Asparagus Canapes or Veal Prince Orlaf. (Although it was in this period that I used a recipe to make an appetizer out of cold brussel sprouts stuffed with deviled ham. I am still knocking socks off with that one.)

I always meant to get the hard cover version of the book, so appealing with its red ribbon page marker and gold embossed cover. Now I have it – what a bust! Revised by the son-in-law of the author of the previous edition and printed in 1997, it is almost a completly different book. And none the better for it.

The chapters are basically the same, except for the removal of Canning, Salting, and Smoking and the insertion of Grains, Beans and Tofu, but the content illustrates how our focus has changed. In the chapter called Entertaining, the older version advises this: “If you must rely on indifferent service, or your harrassed cook is trying to pinch-hit as a waitress, consider serving the main course yourself.” The new version says: “Don’t over do it.” The Salad section in both books cover 42 pages, but while 1964 is busy with Roquefort Slaw Dressing and German Hot Potato Salad, 1997 gives us sixteen different vinaigrettes.

For soup, the new edition is all but useless, with the possible exception of Roasted Red Pepper Soup and Pappa Al Pomodoro (Tusacan
Bread and Tomato Soup).
But , oh! from 1964: Chestnut Soup, Potage au St. Germaine, Bouillabaisse.

But the jewel in the crown is The New American Cookbook by Lilly Haxworth Wallace, 1941. Ah, the soups we shall soon see from here: Cranberry Soup, Wine Soup, Cream of Almond Soup, Philadelphia
Pepper Pot, Drunken Crab Bisque

Aside from the intriguing recipes, the amount of infomation contained in the book is astonishing. The stench of junior high Home Ecomonics hangs heavy here as the difference between a hot oven and a quick oven is explained. And in the chapter called Equipment For a Kitchen, comes this:

The Principal Steps of the Meal Serving Routine
1. assembly and preparation of raw food
2. cooking
3. serving
4. clearing away
5. dishwashing
6. putting away and cleaning up

This section is further subdivided into equipment used in each catagory, i.e.: Articles Used in Puting Away and Cleaning Up
1. paper towel rack
2. sink brush
3. stove brush
4. floor brush
5. broom
6. long-handled mop and pail
7. pail
8. long-handled scrub brush
9. oil mop
10. dry mop
11. 6 floor cloths
12. roller towels

There are entire chapters devoted to Pickling and Carving and this, written in all earnestness:

Scientific Feeding Simplified
“The clever homemaker should know that her meals do more for her family than satisfy hunger and please tastes. If she does her task well, she is amply recompensed when she sees healthy complexions, strong teeth, happy smiles and unimpaired vigor and vitality. Her well-done dietary work also pays huge dividends in the form of smaller doctor’s bills, in less frequent colds and minor ailments, in sunny dispositions, and in vigorous mental reactions.”

The Soup Lady endorses this position and strongly recommends that you all pay close attention to it.

*There is now available a reprinted editon of the Original Joy : The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat written in 1931 by Irma Rombauer, the mother and grandmother of the subsequent authors.This one is a doozy, and is right up the Soup Lady’s alley. The cover art depicts St. Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery.

Note the elegantly lifted arm holding the coordinating pocketbook out of harm’s way. Ya gotta love it. The Soup Lady will simply die if she doesn’t get this for Christmas.

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While it is quite true that needlepoint is a hobby of mine, and that I like to
strike up conversations with strangers, I am not this Soup Lady. I’m not. Really, I’m not.

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Cabbage Soup

The Description:
Finally, it’s the highly anticipated cabbage soup. Do you think you know it from the recent fad diet that has been making the rounds? Don’t make me laugh – this is the real thing. This does double duty and can be served as an entree or a soup.

The Recipe:
Place 2lbs of beef chuck with the bone in a very large stock pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and skim the surface to remove froth. Add one head of green cabbage cut into 8 wedges, three whole medium onions, peeled, six carrots and seven stalks of celery, both cut into 1" lengths. Add water to within two inches of the top of the pot and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons of oregano, salt and fresh ground pepper. Tie 2 bay leaves and some celery tops with leaves into a bundle with white string and add this to the soup.

Now comes the secret ingredient which makes this soup a delightful taste experience: 2 cups of ketchup. Yes, ketchup! The most under-rated and unappreciated condiment of them all. Read the label. It is a well-thought out blend of tomatos, spices and vinegar – that is what makes it so good. No substitutions – no tomato sauce, no canned or fresh tomatoes, no tomato paste – it must be catsup.

Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Add water if needed to maintain the level of the broth and adjust seasonings. When ready to serve, remove the bone and the bay leaf packet and ladel some broth into a bowl. Add the thinnest egg noodles (cooked) that you can find. When the soup course is finished, plate some of the meat onto a deep dinnerplate and add just enough broth to moisten. Taking care not to disturb the shape of the cabbage wedges or the whole onions, carefully place one of each, along with a pile of carrots and celery onto the dish.

Never under any circumstances succumb to the temptation of adding Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix to the sacred broth. That is an abomination and unacceptable. And that is not just my opinion – that it just the way it is.

The Review: Our panel of judges went to the test kitchens and gave this report:

The Mister
: "What is that smell? Oh, no! Not cabbage!" ( The Mister lived in a boarding house in Gemany for a year and claims he was fed pork and cabbage three times a day the whole time. He has an unwavering No Pork No Cabbage policy.) He declined to participate.

The College Man
: he loves this soup and will eat it to the point of bursting.

The Teen Queen
: ate only plain egg noodles – no soup.

The Cook: This is non-labor intensive and I get a feeling of connectedness to all of my Slavic ancestors when I make this soup. It is the first thing I do when the weather turns crisp. There is the added bonus of the sweet perfume of cooked cabbage throughout the whole house.

Note: It is quite permisssable to make a meatless version of this soup if you add beef bouillion. I will also allow you to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces and serve everything in the same bowl at once. All other rules still apply.

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