Friday, March 13, 2009

Soup Kitchen

Bug went on a soup spree and was inspired by a few soups posted at He decided to try the avocado and bacon (surprise!) and the beef barley lentil soups first.

There wasn't much deviation from the posted recipe for the avocado and bacon soup. The recipe below includes his changes, but is more or less taken verbatim from the original post.

Avocado and bacon soup

Avocado and Bacon Soup

Makes 8-10 servings

1 lb bacon
1 red onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 qt chicken stock
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1/2 c white wine (we used Dona Paula Los Cardos chardonnay 2006)
1 lime, juiced
1 c heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until evenly brown. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon grease in the skillet, chop, and set aside. Place onion and celery in the skillet, and cook until tender.
2. Transfer the onion and celery to a blender or food processor. Pour in 1/2 the chicken stock, add avocados, and blend until smooth.
3. Transfer blender mixture to a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in remaining stock, wine, lime juice, and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, but do not boil. Garnish with chopped bacon to serve.

Bug blended this until *mostly* smooth. He wanted a bit more texture to the soup. He loved it, I liked it and would eat it again. When queried what I would change about this recipe to transform it to a soup I'd love, I haven't been able to place my finger on it. The nutty, slight sourness, viscous, and crunch were all technically good. The bacon was overwhelming for me, so I did not add it to subsequent bowls. I'm sure Bug secretly jumped for joy - yeah, more bacon!

The key to not failing with this, or cooking with avocados in general, is to watch over it constantly and not let it boil. I had always wondered what happened to my mother's fabulous (in theory) soup until I read a comment posted on this recipe.

My mother made a seasoned avocado puree and ladled them in six avocado shells with shrimp and crab packed on the bottom. She placed them in the oven to cook. When they came out of the oven, it smelled great and made a beautiful presentation for dinner straight from the oven.

I LOVE shrimp, crab, and avocados so I anxiously awaited my first bite. When we all finally arrived at the table and took our first bites, I was was BITTER like nothing I've ever had to this day.

My mother got up and threw away her serving and the remaining servings sitting in the kitchen. She asked me to hand mine over. I ate a few more bites. My father ate the soup in its entirety without complaint. She was so disappointed. It was my mother's only failure in cooking I've ever witnessed.


Bug was a little more liberal with the posted recipe for the beef barley lentil soup. The directions are different because we don't have a slow cooker, so I've altered it to reflect cooking with a pot over a burner and an onion hater in the midst.

Beef barley lentil soup

Beef Barley Lentil Soup
Makes ~20 servings

1 lb ground beef
1 red onion, chopped
4 c red potatoes, cubed (1/4 inch pieces)
2 c celery, chopped
2 c baby carrots, diced
1-1/4 c dry lentils, rinsed
1 c medium pearl barley
12 c water
2 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes

1. Cook beef. Drain. Set aside.
2. Cook onions, celery, and carrots in water and bouillon on low for 1 hour.
3. Combine vegetables, beef, lentils, barley, and tomatoes in stock pot. Add salt and pepper.
4. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours.
5. Add potatoes. Cook on low for another hour.

This was our first time using lentils at home. The smell of the beans when I got home was a bit overwhelming, but the soup was fantastic. I loved the super beefy and vegetable flavors, as well as the various textures of the barley, lentils, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and meat. The vegetables were nicely done with no onion crunch (yay!). It was a great combination with my smoked turkey sandwich.

I actually consumed dessert before my bowls of soup -- chocolate stout cupcakes from...

Chocolate stout cupcake

Surprise! A Cookie and a Cupcake. I enjoyed the airy cake. The almond dust blended well with the sweeter icing and the subtle bitterness of the chocolate.

There's only one cupcake displayed because I scarfed mine down before thinking about taking a picture (notice the incriminating crumbs left behind). Who would want to see two of the same cupcake in a picture anyway, right? Yeah...

I am anxiously awaiting next week's cupcake of the week, port cherry vanilla!

- Cassaendra

A Cookie and a Cupcake
2173 Professor Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
Tel: (216) 344-9433

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