Split Pea Soup takes a Ribbing

Man, I hate the cold weather. I’m already tired of chillis and stews. What I want is ribs! But broiling them in my oven blows. Hey, wait a minute…ribs are pork, right? Pork goes great in soups, right? Let’s cook us some ribs in a split pea soup and have the best of both worlds!

Katt’s Baby Back Ribs in Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

2 tblsp of olive oil
9 oz of pancetta, chopped into small cubes
1 rack of baby back ribs
2 smoked ham hocks
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pd of split peas
2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of white pepper
Water
Salt to taste
5 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tblsp of unsalted butter
1 dollop of heavy cream
Crusty bread

I like my soups and stews really spicy (hot), so if you’d rather not breathe fire while you eat this, don’t hit the ribs with the cayenne, and wait until right before you serve this to add any of the red pepper to the soup. You may find that the white pepper is all the spice that you need.

Start by cutting the ribs into individual pieces. Then, sprinkle the front and back with about a teaspoon worth of cayenne pepper. Next, chop up your pancetta. (For this particular demo I couldn’t get a single 9-ounce slab, so I bought three 3-ounce packages of sliced pancetta and I just chopped that up.) Pour your olive oil into either a stock pot or a roasting dish and bring that up to a medium heat. We want to slowly render out the fat from the pancetta without browning it too quickly, so this step should take between 15 and 20 minutes. Once the pancetta is browned, remove it from the pan and reserve it in a bowl.

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Sensational Soups: Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Sage Butter


As we move into these chilly fall and winter months, there’s nothing I love more than brewing up a big pot of homemade soup. The herby aroma wafting through the house, the steam warming up the kitchen, the inevitable leftovers…ah! It’s the best. So it’s no surprise I volunteered to review 300 Sensational Soups, a new cookbook by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds. If one pot of soup is good, 300 is excellent!

This extremely comprehensive book is full of winter cooking inspiration. While it would be easy to phone in some recipes in a cookbook this large, Sensational Soups os written with thoroughness and creativity. It starts out with a section on how to make your own stocks from scratch, then goes into chapters on a variety of soup categories such as chilled, garden vegetable, chowder, fish and shellfish, and cheese (a whole section purely about cheese-based soups?! I’m into!) The collection wraps up with a section on toppings and garnishes (which includes glorious ideas like grilled cheese croutons and maple cream). Truly something for everyone!

I had difficulty selecting just one recipe to review for this post, but I finally narrowed it down to chowder, one of my favorite soup subsets (soupsets?) I ended up going with the butternut squash chowder because it includes one of my favorite garnishes ever—fried sage leaves! My dining companions all agreed that drizzling the frying butter with the sage leaves on top was a major game changer. I also love how the recipe uses mashed squash to add thickness and texture instead of a massive amount of cream (although, don’t worry, there’s still a healthy amount of cream involved).

This soup was so comforting, so rich and velvety, and so flavorful! I will say that I made a few changes to the recipe—as with basically every soup, I doubled the recommended amount of spices, salt, and pepper. I also added an extra few squeezes of lemon. Oh, and clearly this chowder was begging for a sprinkle of cheese on top, so I grated up some nutty aged parmesan for garnish alongside the sage leaves and butter drizzle. I also highly condone serving with a hunk of crusty sourdough bread.

Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Sage Butter

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Miss K’s Fourth Annual Stuffed Pumpkin: Soup’s On

So, here I am at the start of my fourth year at ES, and I must return once again to my roots, my own personal ES origin story: the stuffed pumpkin.  I started off traditional, then took a slightly different tack, and last year went with a different course all together.  This year, I decided to fill in the obvious gap: the app(etizer).

Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s semi-successful attempt in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I set out to make pumpkin soup in the pumpkin.

Here’s what I did:

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Comfort Food Time: Creamy Veggie & Bean Soup with Homemade Rustic Rosemary Bread

Ok, y”all. Halloween is over. The election is over.  It”s time to really delve into comfort foods like soup and bread.  Or better yet, both. My house recently smelled like garlic and freshly baked bread for two days. Let”s face it–those are the best smells on earth.

I adore soup and just had to share this recipe; it”s soooo good, and healthy to boot.  This is probably my favorite soup I”ve made so far!  Make it, for realz.

Plus, a bonus bread recipe!  I spoil you, so.

Creamy Veggie & Bean Soup

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Point/Counterpoint: Manhattan vs. New England Clam Chowder

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Endless Simmer Editorial staff. The comments posted here are solely the opinions of the authors, no mater how lame or convoluted.

Devil Katt: I don’t know why we’re even debating this. It’s like Pros Verses Joes when it comes to which version is better, and that version is named after the island Manhattan. No ‘foo-foo’ cream sauces to cover up the taste of OUR clams. Milk and cream is supposed to be poured over cereal, not soup, you New England numbskulls! Save it for yer Fig Newtons, ya maple swillin’ wannabe’s! Nothin’s better than the natural, rich flavors of the broth, potatoes, tomatoes and BACON, combined with fresh clams, carrots, onion and celery. And by the way, you can’t make Manhattan clam chowder if you don’t have clams. But if you take the clams out of New England Clam Chowder, whaddaya got? Cream of Potato soup! If  New England Clam Chowder was so good, they wouldn’t try to kill the taste by pouring crackers over the top of it. That glop is so gummy some places have to serve it in a bread bowl just to sell it! Fergetaboutit!

Angel Katt:

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When Inauthentic Is Delicious: Weeknight “Gumbo”

Ok, let me preface this by saying that this is not authentic gumbo.  No need to point it out to me.  I am aware.

I set out to make authentic gumbo with the brown roux and what not, but if you know anything about gumbo, it’s pretty labor intensive and time consuming.  That’s not my bag, baby.

I am going to tell you a little anecdote (if you can even call it that) from my week, so you get a feel of how I work in the kitchen.

I went to three different stores looking for fish sauce for this gumbo recipe.  Not sure why.  I read it in a cookbook, so I figured it’s important.  So, 3 stores and nothing.  Then my Dad found it and got it for me (love you, Dad!)  It was such a huge bottle of fish sauce, so I  suppose I was set for many future gumbos.

Except, I couldn’t get it open.  That dang top would not come off.  I guess this would be where an extra set of (not weak old lady) hands would have been beneficial.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten it open, but I have no patience or perseverance for such a task.  Don’t I sound like a fun person?

Long story short: no fish sauce made it into this dish.  So sad.  But true.

Here’s how it all went down.

Weeknight “Gumbo”

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A New Tradition: Mock Holiday Borscht

The great thing about being an adult is that you’re free to either continue the traditions of your past, or to create totally new ones of your own design. I’ve started one that I call the “Mock Holiday.” It’s usually held the week after an actual holiday because it’s cheaper to rent costumes and they’re more available. Costumes, you say? Well of course! Holidays should be festive, and besides, it’s always better to overindulge and possibly have the contents of your just-eaten dinner magically reappear, while wearing someone else’s clothing. Our mock holidays are always planned around a lavish dinner prepared and contributed to by each member of the family. And when I say family, I mean a twisted group of like-minded acquaintances that meet on an annual basis to dine, drink and celebrate each others’ company, always at the expense of the poor bastard who has to host it at their place. Some of our past Mock Holidays have included a ‘Zombie Thanksgiving’ where each participate had to dress up in full pilgrim attire while sporting their best white-faced, brain craving makeup; ‘Super Hero Trans-Gender Christmas’ where everyone arrives dressed as their favorite opposite-sex comic book crusader, (you should have seen my She-Hulk); and our ‘Easter Playboy All-Nighter’ where all of the guys dressed in pajamas and smoking jackets, and the girls dress up as….bunnies!

Our one rule about following a traditional holiday with a mock holiday is that we can’t have traditional food like turkey for Thanksgiving or ham for Easter. Our Mock Holidays are just an excuse to get together and eat copiously, so it’s up to the current host to decide the menu. ‘Zombie Thanksgiving’ featured deep-dish pizzas while ‘Easter Playboy All-Nighter’ had lobster thermidor. Our only tradition is to be untraditional!

This weekend is no exception. To celebrate ‘Slave Labor Day’ (which is the buzz-kill of all holidays as it marks the end of summer), forget about brats and burgers and say hello to a traditional Russian feast featuring ice cold vodka, borscht and beef stroganoff! Why Russian? Hell, why not? Actually it’s where my finger landed when I closed my eyes and picked a volume from my cookbook library. And that’s the reason why I’m including my borscht recipe. It’s a little untraditional as I like to sear my beef cubes prior to boiling my stock, but then that seems to be the central theme here. So go forth and celebrate ‘Slave Labor Day’ in style! And help me make a decision here; should I go as a Chinese railroad laborer or an Egyptian pyramid builder?

Katt’s Borscht

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