Soup, in my humble opinion, defines a good chef. I always try the soup when I go to a new restaurant unless it is something weird or unappealing. The soup that arrives usually gives me a good idea of what’s ahead. I can even remember certain special occasions by the soup that was served. Also, I love a creative garnish or presentation with a soup. A favorite restaurant in Chicago served the soup with a medley of fresh greens in an empty bowl — the waiter then arrived to pour a steaming broth over the top. Simply delicious.
And, I don’t know about you, but both Liza and I keep a pot of soup on the stove all day leading up to the big Thanksgiving meal. Here are three delicious soups by three equally as delicious chefs. We have great wines for your Thanksgiving meal at the end as well.
Dancing Bear Lodge, Townsend, TN — Chef Jeff Carter
I wrote about the Dancing Bear Lodge last May and returned a couple of weeks ago to celebrate my anniversary. This time, unlike in May, my husband and I hiked in 17 degree weather with 3-4 inches of snow and ice; I even encountered a black bear on the trail. Believe me, the steamy bowl of soup* which arrived on the table that night, was delectable and just what I needed.
* Liza: I made this soup this past Sunday and it’s well worth the effort. It does take some time, but the end product had everyone scrambling for more. This is a restaurant sized portion, so your efforts can be shared with friends or frozen to enjoy later. This soup is the essence of showcasing seasonal eating. YUM!
.Butternut Squash and Apple Soup:
- 2 oz olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
- 5 butternut squash
- 2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1q apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 11/2 g vegetable stock
- 1 T salt
- 2 oz cider vinegar
- 8 oz cream
- 6 oz sorghum
- 1 c brown sugar
Cut butternut squash in half leaving the neck and the bottom. Cut the bottom in half and scrape out the seeds. Rub the flesh with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast flesh side down in a 375 degree oven for about 1 hour or until the squash becomes soft. Set aside to cool. With the neck section, which is not being roasted, peel the skin off and dice the squash into small chunks. Set aside.
While the roasted squash is cooling, sweat onion and carrot in olive oil for 5-7 minutes. Add the diced squash, vegetable stock, apples, apple cider, cinnamon stick, and salt. Bring to a simmer. Take the roasted squash and scoop out of the flesh and add to the soup pot. Discard the skin. Simmer for 2 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick, puree and strain through a fine mesh strainer and add the cider vinegar, cream, sorghum** and brown sugar. Check seasoning and serve with a dollop of spiced crème fraiche.
** Liza: I fond sorghum at Publix with the gluten-free products, near the frozen foods. For 6 oz, I estimated 2/3 cups and it was unbelievably good.
Makes 6 Q
Spiced crème fraiche
- 1 cup crème fraiche (to make homemade, add 2 Tbs of buttermilk to one cup of cream in a glass container. Mix, cover loosely, leave on counter top 8-12 hours. Mix again. Refrigerate for up to a week.)
- 1 t pumpkin pie spice
Add spice to crème fraiche and whip to soft peeks.
Margot’s Bar and Cafe — Chef Margot McCormack
Margot Bar and Cafe in the winter offers a cozy atmosphere and Margot’s selection of soups will warm you to the bone. Aromatic and rich, this soup will titillate your taste buds.
Roasted Pumpkin Bisque:
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon,
- 1/8 teaspoon of clove, nutmeg
- 1 bunch of leeks, pale green and white bottoms only. chopped and washed.or if leeks are not available one yellow onion chopped will do just as well.
- 4 cps chicken stock
Miel Restaurant — Seema Prasad, Proprietor; Freddy Brooker, Chef
Miel, my neighborhood restaurant, is tucked ever so quaintly behind Bobbie’s Dairy Dip. Never again will I look at a shrimp shell the same after preparing this tasty shrimp stock recipe. Seema Pradsad and Chef Freddy Brooker wow us with their fresh-from-the-garden menu and amazing wine offerings.
- 2 tbl canola oil
- Shrimp shells (from 3-4 lbs of shrimp)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 carrot
- 3 stalks celery
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbl brandy
- 2 cups white wine (full bodied, dry))
- 2-3 cups water
- ¼- ½ cup tomato paste
Rough chop celery, onion & carrot. Heat the oil in pot until almost smoking, turn heat to medium. Sauté the shrimp shells in the oil approximately 1 minute until they start to color. Add vegetables & garlic. Sauté 2 minutes on medium heat. Add brandy, flame in pan, when flame subsides, add white wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste & water. Simmer 3 minutes. There’s your shrimp stock!
HERBS & SPICES
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbl black peppercorns
- 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 2-3 juniper berries (optional)
- Pinch saffron (optional)
- Couple sprigs of Thyme, Rosemary & Chervil
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 quart half & half
- ½ cup long grain rice (Basmati or Arborio), uncooked
Add all herbs & spices. Simmer 2 minutes. Add heavy cream and half & half. Turn heat up to medium/high and simmer 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Lower heat to low/medium, stirring as needed. Add rice, simmer 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 15 minutes. The rice is used as a natural thickening agent. Press through a fine mesh strainer into a soup tureen. Discard all solids. Soup is ready to serve.
Garnish with grilled shrimp, crème fraiche’, chives or sherry as desired.
Village Wines — Hoyt Hill
I paid a visit to my favorite wine guru, Hoyt Hill, owner of Village Wines in Hillsboro Village. In the serious wine circles around town, Hoyt is known as the Wizard of Wine, with the most evolved palette in Nashville. I have traded with him for years — when the wizard speaks, I buy. However, he is not a wine snob, at least not to his customers; he genuinely wants to help you make a good choice. Whatever your price point, Hoyt will find you an incredible bottle of wine. The best advice I can give you when you walk into Village Wines is to say, “What do you recommend?” You won’t be sorry.
Two wines and a champagne to wow your guests available at Village Wines in Hillsboro Village.
- Duval-Leroy NV Brut Champagne, $35 (normally $50)
- 2008 Foris Pinot Gris Rogue Valley, Oregon, $15
- 2007 Domaine du Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Villages “Champauvins”, $18.50 (normally $21)
What can we say? Eat. Drink. Be Merry.