Soup Weather (part one)
I indulged in a very pleasant work lunch on last Tuesday at an outdoor café on Southport Avenue near Wrigley Field. I enjoyed my meal and my company a lot, and I was dressed for the 85-degree weather in a summer sundress and sandals. By Thursday afternoon, the temperature had dropped so much that I pulled out my light winter coat to throw over my work-out clothes as I prepared to walk the mile or so to my gym. Welcome to October in Chicago.
With fall temperatures now here to stay, I started thinking about soups. I put up a pot of soup stock--more on that in future blog posts--and also considered what sort of warming and aromatic soup I could make in a little more than one hour for our dinner that night.
I reach for "Dinner: Changing the Game" by NYTimes food writer Melissa Clark more often than any other cookbook on my shelf. Her recipes are tasty but not terribly complicated, and have helped me prepare countless meals in about one hour. I had not made soup all summer, but I was thinking about a main course featuring shrimp. Searching for soup + shrimp yielded this recipe for Rustic Shrimp Bisque that we had enjoyed many times in the past. It was 'game on' for my first fall soup of the season.
This recipe involves conventional soup-making technique, such as sautéeing leeks (I leave out the garlic), celery and fennel, adding stock, and cooking down the ingredients and then using an immersion blender or Cuisinart to combine everything into a soup. The genius here is the use of saved shrimp shells, lightly sautéed and combined with brandy and wine to make a quick stock. Stock makes the soup, and this stock could not be tastier.
If you are here in Chicago, you are probably pulling out your fall coats, sweaters and boots. Add this recipe to your fall soup collection, and you will feel a lot better about the cooler weather.