Soup Style

Son Eric posted a recipe for Beet Borscht on our family blog recently. He and his wife, Alison, have made it many times, and as the accomplished cooks they are, often freelance with both ingredients and methods—hey, you can’t screw up a soup if you’re using good ingredients. Cooking it for the first time, I went strictly by the directions, which included the use of a food mill, which is messy and cumbersome. We had it for dinner Sunday evening, and I gotta say, it was really good.

Beet_Borscht.JPG

I had the Borscht again for lunch today, after it had rested for two days. Even better. As I was eating, I was thinking about chunky-and-brothy style soup versus the smooth-and-thick style. I’m generally a chunky-and-brothy guy… not a big fan of pureed soup (except maybe cold soups). But then there’s this Borscht. It’s smooth and thick, but also has chunks. Perfect for this soup. Of course it comes from running some of the vegetables — the flavoring vegetables — through a food mill and then adding the principal vegetables and cooking them in the already thick soup as chunks. Elementary, you might say; and I might say, “Yeah, but I had to learn that.”

I learned it, for sure, cooking ROASTED PEPPER & TOMATO FISH-SCALLOP STEW, a recipe gleaned from the SF Examiner in 1997. The first time I cooked it in January 1998, the instruction said, In batches, puree bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic with the clam juice until smooth. Strain through a fine wire sieve. My notation in the recipe was: [I didn’t think that was necessary]. And at the end of the recipe, I noted: [This was good enuf to record… more like a soup than a stew. Reheats nicely.] NOTE: By “record,” I mean, transcribe it from the newspaper… no scanners, no internet in those days, well, not in my house.

When I cooked it again in December 2001, I followed the instructions: In batches, puree bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic with the clam juice until smooth. Strain through a fine wire sieve; and made the additional notation: (Very necessary… makes a sauce, rather than finely chopped vegetables suspended in liquid). At the end of the recipe, I further noted: (The 2001 version is indeed a stew, since I did it right… and really good!)

By the way, that’s a really good soup/stew, so here’s that recipe, along with my notations.

ROASTED PEPPER & TOMATO FISH-SCALLOP STEW
gleaned from the sf examiner on some date in 1997
prepared and eaten January 1998
Note: Recipe is printed straight from the paper… my comments & alterations are noted in [ ].
Cooked again December 2001. new comments in ( )

4 medium roasted red bell peppers, peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped. [I used the Mazzetta roasted peppers you buy in a jar.] (Roasted fresh peppers)
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes [never heard of such a thing… I used 1 28oz can] (14 oz now widely available, drained before using)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
5 1/2c clam juice [I think I used 3 bottles of clam juice and the balance vegetable broth.] [actually, it could do with less liquid altogether] (home made lobster broth)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
1t ground coriander
1/2t celery salt (didn’t have salt, used seeds)
1/4t cayenne pepper
1# orange roughy, cut into bite sized pieces (Atlantic cod)
1/4# sea scallops
3 1/2T unsalted butter
s&p to taste
1/4c coarsely chopped parsley for garnish
Homemade croutons

In batches, puree bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and garlic with the clam juice until smooth. Strain through a fine wire sieve. [I didn’t think that was necessary] (Very necessary… makes a sauce, rather than finely chopped vegetables suspended in liquid) Place in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, along with the spices. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fish, scallops and butter and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and tender. Season with s&p and garnish.
[This was good enuf to record… fresh peppers, tomatoes and homemade fish stock would be nice, too. Again, more like a soup than a stew. Reheats nicely.]
(The 2001 version is indeed a stew, since I did it right… and really good!)

Carol made a nice salad of baby greens, tangerine wedges and avacado.

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