SWEET POTATO SOUP (Served with bacon crumbles and chives)

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This is a very simple, but luscious soup for cold fall evening, maybe after working in the garden in the day.  Serve it with a crusty Italian bread that you can dip in the soup and it is just perfection.  The recipe is from Cook’s Country and is undeniable good.

Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Chives

Slicing the sweet potatoes very thin allows them to cook very quickly. Add a salad and good bread to make a fast, easy supper.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

Slicing the sweet potatoes very thin allows them to cook very quickly. Add a salad and good bread to make a fast, easy supper.

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

Serves 4
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced thin
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

If after cooking the bacon you don’t have quite 2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the pot, add olive oil to make up the difference. For a slightly spicy version of this soup, add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

 

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate; set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from now-empty pot. Add onion, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add potatoes, broth, and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Working in batches, process soup in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup, sprinkled with bacon and chives.

SWEET POTATO SOUP (Served with bacon crumbles and chives)

Brioche Bread & Mushroom Bisque

America’s Test Kitchen is my favorite cookbook for the moment.  The mushroom bisque is simple and yummy.  It freezes well, as this was pulled from the freezer in the morning.  I added Enoki Mushrooms and little sour cream, to jazz it up at the last minute.  The Extra Rich Brioche Bread recipe is from Iliana Regan in the latest edition for Food & Wine Magazine, featuring the Best Chefs.

Extra Rich Brioche

INGREDIENTS

  • One 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm buttermilk (100°–105°)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Canola oil, for greasing

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the yeast with the buttermilk until it dissolves. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the bread flour with the sugar and salt. With the machine at medium speed, add the yeast mixture, then add 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Drizzle in the butter and beat for 10 minutes; the dough will look slightly greasy. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding.
  3. Lightly oil a 10-by-5-inch loaf pan. On a work surface, roll out the dough to a 10-by-8-inch rectangle. With a long side facing you, fold the dough in thirds and fit seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 1/2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack in the center. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg. Brush the top of the brioche with some of the egg wash and make a 1/4-inch-deep slit down the center of the loaf. Bake for 20 minutes. Brush the top again with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes longer, until the top is deep golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the 
loaf registers 182°. Transfer the brioche to a rack to cool for 
30 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely.

MAKE AHEAD

The brioche can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil and kept at room temperature for 2 days.

Mushroom Bisque

Ingredients

  • 1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 ½ cups chicken broth
  • cup heavy cream, plus extra for serving
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh chives

Instructions

SERVES 6 TO 10

NOTE FROM THE TEST KITCHEN Tying the thyme sprig with twine makes it easier to remove from the pot. For the smoothest result, use a conventional blender rather than an immersion blender. Our Fried Shallots (see related content) can replace the garnish of cream and chopped chives.

  1. Toss white mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and 1 tablespoon salt together in large bowl. Cover with large plate and microwave, stirring every 4 minutes, until mushrooms have released their liquid and reduced to about one-third their original volume, about 12 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to colander set in second large bowl and drain well. Reserve liquid.
  2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and fond has formed on bottom of pot, about 8 minutes. Add onion, thyme sprig, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is just softened, about 2 minutes. Add sherry and cook until evaporated. Stir in reserved mushroom liquid and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in water and broth and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Discard thyme sprig. Working in batches, process soup in blender until very smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per batch. Return soup to now-empty pot. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Warm to 150 degrees before proceeding with recipe.)
  4. Whisk cream and egg yolks together in medium bowl. Stirring slowly and constantly, add 2 cups soup to cream mixture. Stirring constantly, slowly pour cream mixture into simmering soup. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until soup registers 165 degrees (do not overheat). Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with 1 teaspoon extra cream and sprinkle of chives.

TECHNIQUES

Lots of Mushrooms, Little Work

Our bisque contains a full 2 pounds of mushrooms, but we found that there’s no need to slice or chop them. Because mushrooms lack a thick outer layer, they give up moisture readily even when left whole. We simply toss them with salt and microwave them until most of their liquid is released. Then we brown the shriveled mushrooms to deepen their flavor and use the reserved mushroom liquid to help form the base of the soup.

MEGA MUSHROOMS: A mix of white button, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms gives our soup woodsy depth.

Yoking Together Yolks for Silky—and Flavorful—Bisque

The abundance of cream in bisques gives them their lush consistency, but it also makes most versions taste flat. While the fat droplets in cream thicken a liquid by getting in the way of water molecules, slowing their movement, they also mute flavor by coating the tongue and preventing flavor molecules from reaching taste receptors.

For a bisque with both pleasing body and a more pronounced mushroom flavor, we turned instead to an old-school French thickener—a so-called liaison, which replaces a large portion of the cream with egg yolks. As the bisque heats, proteins in the yolks unfold and bond together into long, tangled strands that, like the fat in cream, interfere with the movement of water molecules. Egg yolks also contain the powerful emulsifier lecithin, which has a twofold effect: It breaks up the fat droplets into smaller particles that disperse more completely throughout the liquid, obstructing more water molecules, for an even thicker consistency. It also keeps the bisque smooth by holding the fat droplets suspended in the liquid so they don’t separate out.

If yolks can do all this, why even use cream? Because the fat it contains provides an appealing mouthfeel that yolks alone can’t match.

 

Brioche Bread & Mushroom Bisque

Simple and simply Delish!

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French Onion Soup, with a little homemade Focaccia on the side for a light dinner.  I just didn’t photograph the pasta that followed and ruined the effect.

Love these little soup bowls as you can have just a little taste of soup for the first course.  I often do this when entertaining or just for the two of us at home.

When I make a simple soup, I make a lot and freeze it in Mason Jars.  (Just be sure to leave room at the top for freezing space) On nights I don’t feel like cooking.  [You know the one that you have spent all day in the garden], it is nice to know there is something simple and good in the freezer; and just add a salad and you have dinner in ten minutes.

In the summer there is always lots of lettuce growing in my garden, so that is the time of year I love salads the most.

This last month I added a herb garden in planters on my covered deck, so I can have fresh herbs at my disposal all year, without walking out in the rain to cut them. My husband installed a drip system, so I don’t even have to worry about watering them.  It is just nice!

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This summer we will install a translucent wall, so they get light and we have privacy. The only disadvantage of living on the beach, is the close proximity to other houses.  These little additions make fresh cooking so simple.

Simple and simply Delish!