Monday, February 23, 2009

Soupy Poll Results

So it’s a smooth, velvety, and creamy soup that is most desired on restaurant menus. There are two pieces of equipment that make this happen, and I’m not sure they can be found in many home kitchens. A Vita-Prep blender is the muscle that can turn almost anything into a puree. It’s a rather pricey machine with a narrow range of uses at home, but in the restaurant kitchen it can get a really good work out even on a slow day. The other thing necessary for a smooth and velvety textured soup is a chinois. This is the finest strainer in strainer family, anything finer and you’re looking for some cheesecloth. With a little pushing, the effort is well worth the results. So many of the soups I’ve made in many different restaurants has culminated in me standing in front of the Vita-prep ladling hot soup into the top, buzzing it for a minute or so, then pouring it into a chinois and using a ladle to push the soup through into a bucket and discarding the solids left in the bottom of the strainer. I’ve done this hundreds of times. I’m not at all surprised it’s in high demand.

What I am surprised by is the lack of votes for the classics. It’s true, they are the classics for a reason, and they are very popular. Any day of the week, any time of the day, any kind of weather and Lobster Bisque will sell! Creamy tomato with blue cheese….you better have made a large batch, French onion….no, you probably didn’t slice enough onions, and Asparagus soup….in Cleveland, in December, ohhh who cares!

Personally, I’m not very fond of eating soup. I almost never order it when I go out to eat. I do stop off at the Souper Market sometimes, and I almost always get something chunky, something that’s more stew than soup. As for making soups in the restaurant I try to think of soup as a liquid appetizer, that doesn’t necessarily stop with what’s liquid and goes in the bowl. I’m interested in pairing a soup with something else, on the side, for instance a petite sandwich. This seems very approachable, and has worked well in the past. Most recently at the Black River Café we did a creamy chicken soup juxtaposed with crispy chicken skin served alongside. The possibilities are endless; the combinations are what make soup interesting to me.

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