Sometimes the soup just isn’t as photogenic as the flowers.
But yet: a pot of homemade soup exemplifies nourishment, comfort and sharing, doesn’t it?
(Deep Thoughts for a Sunday night.)
You may have heard of Soup Sisters, an organization that started in Calgary in 2009 (and has since grown to operate 15 events in 9 cities across Canada every month), where participants gather in local professional kitchens for a soup-making event under the guidance of a chef facilitator, producing 150-200 servings of nourishing soup that are packaged in reusable lidded glass bowls and delivered to a local shelter. It’s half class, half kitchen party – events are social evenings with lively conversation, chopping, laughter and warm kitchen camaraderie that culminate in a simple, sit-down supper of soup, salad, bread and wine. Since March 2009, Soup Sisters has delivered over 60,000 containers of soup to 20 shelter recipients across Canada. I’ve been a Soup Sisters chef/facilitator myself, and it’s fun.
And now I’ve been asked to take photographs (gratis!) for their new cookbook. Scheduled to release this fall, it’s a wonderful collection of recipes Soup Sisters groups have made at their events across Canada, as well as recipes contributed by celebrity chefs, with proceeds going to the Soup Sisters organization. But – extenuating circumstances mean I have to get all the photos done by the end of the month. This month. So that’s 40 photos in under 2 weeks. I’m so happy to be involved, but yeah.
The time-consuming part, of course, is the preparation of all that soup. And so I called up the Cookbook Company and asked if we might take over their kitchen for a day, thinking I’d enlist some of my favourite people to come and cook pots of soup, Soup Sisters-style. The sunny upstairs kitchen is all ours this Wednesday, if anyone would like to come by and help chop, stir and simmer.
I thought I’d reserve it from 12-8, so that anyone who wants to come after work can do so. Come for the whole thing, for a bit, or for ten minutes to say hi. I’ll bring some music, buy some wine, dig up some nibbles, and pick up all the ingredients we need.
Since I’ll only need a bowlful per shot, excess soup can be brought home, so you’ll get dinner out of it.
Plus, we can hang out and cook. Which sounds to me like the most fun ever. All hands on deck!
Want to come? We’ll be in the upstairs kitchen of the Cookbook Company Wednesday from 12-8pm; come on down anytime, and leave a comment here if you could, just so I get an idea how many(ish) to expect. Maybe we’ll set up a movie in one corner for any kids who come along.
This vanilla parsnip soup isn’t in the book, but Michael Allemeier tweeted it to me awhile ago to make for a dinner party I was auctioned off to cook for, having been published in the Herald. It’s really wonderful, and so is he. The secret is to slowly sweat off the parsnips to bring out the natural sweetness, he says. I’ve made this as-is, and with a small bundle of asparagus tossed in.
The vanilla is a deliciously unique addition, something we’re used to tasting with sweet, but you can leave it out and still have a pretty fab pot of parsnip soup. If you like, add a wee dollop of curry paste and swap a small sweet potato or a couple carrots for one of the parsnips.
Michael Allemeier’s Vanilla Parsnip Soup
2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 leek, white part only, washed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 L (8 cups) chicken stock
1 vanilla bean (or a small dollop of vanilla bean paste)
1/2 cup cream (optional)
juice of half a lemon (or a tablespoon or two)
salt to taste
In a large pot set over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter. When the foam subsides add the onion, leek and garlic. Slowly sweat the vegetables until they’re tender and soft but not browned – 5 minutes or so.
Add the parsnips and continue to cook, stirring often. After about 5 minutes, add the stock and bring to a simmer.
Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the black seeds. Add pod and seeds to the simmering soup. Simmer for 30 minutes until parsnips are tender.
Remove the vanilla pods and discard, and stir in the cream. Puree the soup well using a hand-held immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Add the lemon juice and season with salt.
Serves 6 to 8.
February 19 2012 06:25 pm | soup