Since I was late to class, I was assigned the soup orphaned by the rest of my classmates. Poor chicken noodle! Granted, it was probably the least exciting of the batch, but I didn’t mind taking it home. The other soups on the menu were two traditional European soups, Italian bread and tomato and French onion, a hearty corn chowder, and an intriguing southwest squash bisque. The chicken soup recipe was pretty standard: a 3-4 lb. chicken, garlic, leeks, celery, and carrots. I simmered the chicken, aromatics, and bouquet garni in stock for about 40 minutes until the chicken was cooked; once the chicken cooled down, the meat was dissembled into chunks and tossed back into the broth along with the cooked pasta. A squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of tarragon to finish. I’ve found that fresh dill also works really well — fragrant and sweet, it will perk up any chicken soup or salad.
I thought the soup turned out well, though one classmate complained that the soup “tasted too much like chicken,” and my instructor found a garlic clove swimming in his bowl. Cue guilty look on my face; I knew I hadn’t managed to find them all.
Of my classmates’ soups, the standout for me was the southwest squash bisque, garnished with crumbled Italian sausage and ancho chile sour cream:
The sweetness of the squash provided a nice backdrop for the spiciness of the cumin and chile. But the crumbles of sweet, fatty pork bits and the extra hit of spice in the sour cream were what made this soup wicked delicious. We were instructed last class never to employ inedible garnishes in cooking, and I thought this was a great counter-example of making the absolute best use of garnishes to enhance a dish.
Bread and tomato soup with basil:
French onion soup: one luscious bite of this buttery bad boy was enough for me.
Class #4: moist heat cooking. Chef Joe dropped hints of a feast of chicken, rabbit, veal, sea bass. Sounds like the second coming to me.