Friday, January 22, 2010

A Tale Of Two Soupies

A tale of two freezer soups
It's been my observation that a great many people with a public school education from a particular decade or two, were required to read Charles Dickens in their Jr. High/Middle School English classes. The Dickens novels they read varied with the school, the year, the teacher, and the city, and it became something of a party-lull conversation starter for me. "So, which Charles Dickens novel did you have to read?". The other person would look at me strangely for a moment or two* while it sunk in, and then you'd see the understanding in their eyes as they nodded and replied, "Great Expectations... how 'bout you?". If they hadn't been required/forced to read Dickens, then I knew that they were much younger than myself or they'd had alternative schooling (which meant they were much much younger than myself). People much older were usually obvious to spot and didn't need to answer silly questions in order for me to guess their age-range. But if necessary, I would just fall back on the "Who was your favorite James Bond" or "What was your first rock concert" line of questioning** to instantly peg them.
For the record, my English class read Charles Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities. As I was forced to read it under duress (much preferring my beloved Ray Bradbury paperbacks), my brain absorbed precious little from my requisite Dickens. I wonder if I should reread it. I've come to appreciate Dickens more over the years, and it might make my English teacher smile (where ever she is). That would be nice for her, since she'd no doubt be frowning a great deal over my poor grammar and sentence structure. Ah well, you can lead a horse to water... right? Yeah, that was me. A stubborn horse suffering through page after page of A Tale Of Two Cities. It was a pretty dreary tale. Downright depressing as I recall. There were lots of downtrodden peasants and ignoble noblemen, tragedy, revenge, knitting needles and guillotines. Quelle horreur! Not the sort of thing I want to be reading right now.

The weather outside is frightful enough. I want comfort and warmth from my reading matter as well as from the meals I prepare. Homemade soup really is the best thing for these cold and blustery days, but I couldn't decide which of these two soups to make. Even indecision is a decision, so I decided not to decide... and made both. Like a lot of soups, their ingredient lists were not long, nor were their preparations complex. Peasant food (or as I like to call it, "pleasant food"). Highly flavorful, filling, and cheap. And, a drum roll if you please... I didn't have to go to the store for anything! Which is just fine with me, since it's absolutely raining buckets. In other words... perfect soup weather, regardless of which one we decide to have tonight. Vive la difference!

Roasted Garlic And Potato Soup from
See also: Roasted Garlic Soup on page 66 of How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

My Notes: Used one small head of garlic, dried thyme, 4 sm-med red potatoes, a chunk of Romano rind. Had no chives. Salt & pepper to taste. Tasted good but needed something more. Added a couple of glugs of vermouth. That really made it, adding another layer flavor and deepening the whole. Recipe didn't say when to add cheese/rind, so I added it with the potatoes. Potatoes took WAY longer than 10 minutes to soften. More like 40 minutes.

Soppressata Pasta Fagioli from
See also: Pasta e Fagioli on page 52 of How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

My Notes: Made this without the soppressata. Used a little oo with the onions. Sliced the garlic cloves in half and fished them out later. Omitted the pepper flakes. Used 2-14.5 cans of diced tomatoes. Used canned chicken stock. Added 2 tsp Sundance dried herb blend. Salt & pepper to taste. Pre-cooked navy beans in the slow-cooker. Used 16 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked separately then added in when dishing soup into the bowls.

*I get this a lot.

**Roger Moore and The Go Go's, respectively. Now you know everything.
Quelle horreur!: French, meaning "How awful!". Pronounced: Kel Uh-Ruhr (or something to that effect).
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