The Cooking Chronicles: Soup’s On

When we got back from San Francisco, the shock of a fifteen degree temperature drop immediately drove me to revisit the soup sections of my cookbooks. Comfort was definitely in order, and what better radiates comfort than a hot bowl of soup?

Italian White Bean, Bacon and Tortellini Soup

Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for an Italian white bean, pancetta and tortellini soup immediately caught my eye, but then again, it’s hard to go wrong with pork belly and cheese-filled pasta. I ended up substituting Irvings Farm Fresh bacon for the pancetta, and boy, was it a good decision – the bacon imbued the broth with a smoky flavour that was irresistible. The tortellini (from local company Pasta Time, available at the Italian Bakery) was also a nice inclusion, especially because we don’t indulge in the cheese-filled pasta often. And though we didn’t have any carrots, the Swiss chard from Sundog Organics provided a needed vegetable punch.

Soup

Italian white bean, bacon and tortellini soup

It was a simple but tasty soup that I will definitely make again, especially on cold winter nights.

Golden Pepper and Tomato Soup

For something a little less protein-rich, I turned to Deborah Madison’s golden pepper and yellow tomato soup. I ended up substituting another main ingredient in this soup – instead of using yellow tomatoes, I used one absolutely massive Grightmyre’s Pride tomato that weighed over two pounds (James of Sundog Organic said the heirloom variety is quite dense). Coupled with bell peppers from Doef’s and saffron and herbs for flavouring, the outcome should have been better than it was. We thought the broth was lacking something, though the bacon broth, still lingering on our minds (and palates), probably made it impossible for this soup to follow.

Late Summer Vegetable Soup

Golden pepper and yellow tomato soup

Celeriac Soup

I had been eying Donna Hay’s celeriac soup in No Time To Cook for some time, patiently waiting for celery root to appear at the City Market. It finally did recently, and I picked some up from Greens, Eggs and Ham. In addition to the celery root, the recipe also calls for onion, potatoes, stock and a touch of cream, pureed together.

Celeriac Soup

Celeriac soup, all packed for lunch

I know I shouldn’t be surprised that celeriac tastes exactly like celery, but I was. It brightened the potentially heavy soup with a lovely freshness that made for the perfect lunch.

Though I’m happy with the beautiful fall weather we’ve been having lately, the bright side of a drop in temperature will be returning again to the comforting arms of soup.

The Cooking Chronicles: Potato Soup with Ham and Cheddar

Armed with an Eric Akis recipe and our still prosperous potato stash, I set to make a potato soup with ham and cheddar. I haven’t made a soup that required blending since an experiment with my Mum’s ancient immersion blender, but since we are now equipped with a shiny new food processor, I thought it was about time I tried it again.

This recipe was so easy, with the most difficult thing being the ladling of the soup into the food processor, having to be careful not to spill any of the potato-y goodness. I didn’t have any thyme on hand, but the aromatic dried oregano seemed to work just fine in its place, and I added some corn and peas for texture and good (vegetable) measure.

I loved the result – the pureed potato and onion provided a natural richness to the soup that even cream couldn’t compete with, while the white pepper added some needed depth. Mack wasn’t too keen on the cubes of ham, but I, on the other hand, loved it.

Potato Soup with Ham and Cheddar

Thanks Jon for the suggestion of such a soup process – we’ll definitely be making it again!

The Cooking Chronicles: Harvest Corn Chowder

I’m still in shock of how fast winter descended upon the city, with the trees, yellow leaves still attached, frozen in a sad reminder of fall.

Anyway, the dip in temperature means it is officially soup weather, so I made a harvest corn chowder based on a recipe I clipped from the Edmonton Journal a few weeks ago. Because we are still swimming in potatoes from the Great Potato Giveaway, I substituted them for the sweet potato called for in the recipe.

While it was tasty, and not too heavy, owing to the fact that the majority of the liquid is chicken stock and not cream, it seemed there was something lacking in the soup. Perhaps the sweet potato was indeed the missing link?

Harvest Corn Chowder

A Labour of Love: Soul Soup

There are a handful of eateries I wish I could patronize more often, but due to short operating hours or hard-to-reach locations, I am unable to. Soul Soup falls into the first category, only open from 11-6pm from Monday-Friday, which is convenient to those in close proximity to the core, but becomes a destination spot otherwise.

As a result, I’ve only been to Soul Soup a few times, even though I have enjoyed my past experiences there. As the name suggests, the restaurant primarily serves soup (although they were also offering one rice bowl alternative during my last visit). With numerous varieties on endless rotation, the magnetic menu board above the order counter changes daily, displaying one type each of vegetarian, fish and meat soups. A small 8 oz. serving is $4.75, a medium 16 oz. is $7 and a 32 oz. sells for $11. Each bowl comes with a fresh roll. For those looking for a post-work meal, Soul Soup also sells containers of frozen soup, as well as Culina’s TV dinners.

The interior is chic, brown neutrals accented by pops of pink. I particularly love the light fixtures fashioned out of ladles.

Interior

Between the day’s mulligatawny with apple and pistachios, tomato and shrimp with tarragon and Asian ginger braised pork with rice noodles, the latter won my vote. And though I did feel somewhat hungry that day, I decided to order the small, thinking that the bread would help fill me up. I asked for my order to stay, and settled in on one of the high tables to the side of the counter (the table was even equipped with a built-in purse hook!). Three other stools along the narrow divider that doubled as a table were still up for grabs, but nearly all customers who walked in took their meals to go.

My soup was delivered to me almost instantly, on a retro-themed tray accompanied by the aforementioned roll. The plastic cutlery had been neatly tied up, with a small fruit candy tucked inside – a nice touch. The soup itself was lovely – creative to start with (not your usual beef-and-pasta variety), it was clearly a labour of love. The carrots were tender and soft, and the broth had a full flavour to it, something only attained from lengthy low and slow simmering. Later in the afternoon, I did regret ordering the small, however – I should have upgraded.

Soup

I did have a chance to ask the owner whether or not Soul Soup plans to join Twitter (I’ve mentioned in the past that they are the ideal restaurant to do so – a tweet before lunch about their 3 soups du jour). She said I was the “eighth person” to ask them that question recently, but because they are only a two-person operation, she doesn’t have the time to update their status. She said their phone line recording system was working just fine as a way to provide information to customers. I don’t think the “time” excuse is valid, but with Mack’s help, was able to locate an unofficial Soul Soup account which seems to do a pretty good job of listing the day’s soups.

If you’re looking for a fast but homemade lunch downtown outside of the food court recesses, I’d highly recommend giving Soul Soup a try.

Soul Soup
140-10020 101A Avenue
(780) 409-8272
Monday-Friday 11am-6pm

The Cooking Chronicles: Vegetable Tortellini Bowl

Darn, another recipe that was great to eat but I can’t locate on the internet…

On a day when I was feeling under the weather and craving something warm with vegetables, I turned to a trusty Company’s Coming cookbook for Vegetable Tortellini soup. I figured the filled pasta would give the soup that extra filler, and if nothing else, the tricolore tortellini provided some nice color.

Instead of diced tomatoes, I used a can of whole tomatoes, which, by the time we were ready to eat the soup, lent the chicken stock a lovely red hue. Along with the tomatoes, I threw in the recommended carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, and substituted celery for spinach, and the recipe turned out wonderfully. I remember Jane saying that she was in a “soup phase” at one point – if all soups are this easy and tasty to boot, I may be in one soon too.

Vegetable Tortellini Bowl