Chicken Parm Soup

Posted by aBethke on Sunday Nov 18, 2018 Under Soup Review

This was part of a list of 68 soup recipes I saw randomly on a social media post somewhere. The recipe itself linked back to Delish.

This was a pretty easy recipe to make with well laid out instructions. You gotta love recipe sites for some of their standardized recipe formats. Having said that, with all the Italian seasonings in this soup I would have half expected to receive it on a scrap of paper from someone’s Nonna.

With the garlic, tomatoes, and onion first into the pot, the smells made me think I had just walked into a small kitchen on an Italian hillside. If I looked at the ingredients without aid of a recipe I would have thought I was making a pasta sauce, but before long the spaghetti sauce scents were subdued with the addition of 6 cups of chicken stock. Even this early in the prep the melange of scents were teasing me with glimpses of the flavours soon to be flaved.

Store bought pasta will always be a poor substitute for fresh, but wanting to limit the amount of production for this endeavour, I found a hearty looking penne that would be easy to scoop in to a spoon and equally easy to cut up into pieces for my young son. To the pot, with the pasta!

In my experience the cornerstone of most Italian dishes is the proper selection of cheese. Too often in western culture a lovingly made pasta is ruined with an over processed pre-shredded Parmesan. Sinning with the use of pasta I did not make myself, I hoped the cheese selection would be my path to redemption. A premium wedge of parmigiana regalia was paired with a fresh sphere of mozzarella. Both of these were shredded and then, like the gentle snowfall of a calm winter night, sprinkled into the pot before being slowly swirled in the broth. At this point I could feel a tingle in the air – flavour magic was occurring.

It was also around this time that the wife began hovering around the edges of the kitchen, like a mischievous child trying to steal the first cookie from the oven. This itself was a good sign that this recipe might be a winner, further reinforced by her repeated questions as to when the food would be ready.

The soup prepped, the pasta al dente, and the parsley held aloft with strands of cheese running throughout the broth, it was time to fetch the ladle and feed my family.

The smell test was quickly passed with great success. Although liquid, this was clearly the scent of a Chicken Parm before me. The spoon dipped deep into the bowl, slowly swirling once then twice before beginning its ascension to the maw of judgement. Cheesy deliciousness mixed with savoury tomato goodness, coating and running throughout the pieces of penne and chicken. This soup did not disappoint.

Learning from my mistake with the last soup, I specifically planned to bring some to work the next day and see how it tasted. Sadly this is where the Chicken Parm tasted of naught but disappointment… well, disappointment and cheese. The big problem, and likely one all pasta soups would face, is the noodles were overly soft the following day and ended up just being mushy which kind of ruined the mouth feel of the soup. It wasn’t bad, it was just a far cry from the deliciousness of the fresh soup.

All together I liked it and will probably make this again. So, if you’re looking for some cheesy savoury goodness, this soup is for you!

Recipe: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Soup: 4 out of 5 Spoons

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Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Posted by aBethke on Sunday Nov 18, 2018 Under Soup Review

[Note] This is a slightly modified version of the original Soup Review I wrote. Edits were made to remove personal details from the original version which was written and shared with my colleagues at work.

 

[Note, the second] This recipe was given to me by a colleague at work from his wife after we had been discussing food and cooking for some time. Eating largely vegetarian themselves, I had asked persistently for some recipes to try and then after receiving them, took weeks myself to actually make one. This first Soup Review was written partially as a thank you to them for being patient to get feedback on the recipe.

 

An in-development soup

An in-development soup

How does one truly approach a review for a recipe they’ve never had and are also making themselves? Tis no easy task, especially when the recipe was provided with variant options. Nonetheless, prepared ingredients and recipe at the ready, I ventured into the kitchen to make my first ever Coconut Red Lentil Soup.

Having been quite some time since I had lentils it was hard to remember if they had a signature flavour to them, so right away my mind fixated on the coconut and was whisked away to Caribbean Islands, expecting something along the lines of a spicy coconut flavoured borth with a velvety texture. It was clear to me very quickly however, that my mind had traveled to the wrong part of flavour country with this assumption as I began to add all the spices to the mix and the smells wafted up to tantalize my senses.

To remain true to the recipe that was provided, I tried to follow the instructions precisely, which of course presented a comical moment when I realized there was a step missing about when to add the sweet potatoes to the mix. Not one to be perplexed by this particular tuber, I pressed on after a short ponderance, so as to avoid any precipitous happenstance, and placed the sweet potato into the pot earlier in the process so it would come out soft while adding some of its starch to the broth. For the greens I chose some fresh and crispy Kale, lightly massaged before it was added. Resisting the temptation of more exotic flavours I held off on trying the variant with Garam Masala, a spice I have readily on hand compared to Turmeric, and stuck with the base ingredients in the recipe. The one place I may have deviated more than intended was with the addition of the minced garlic. This one ingredient, for no reason obvious to even myself, was not measured precisely like the rest, but was instead eyeballed and in that regard I think I would have use a touch more garlic if I made this soup again in the future. The one other place I ended up being lackadaisical, this time in the procurement of the lime leaf garnish, was simply due to the fact that the local store didn’t have them, so I substituted a tiny squirt of lime juice instead.

The prep completed, the soup simmering, and smells delighting the senses, I got a bowl, and with ladle in hand I reached not once, not twice, but thrice into the pot to serve a portion, immediately concerned this might be an insufficient amount of soup to sate the hunger of a man of my particular dimensions.

With a sense of purpose and a hungry belly, my spoon dove into the broth and emerged like a breaching whale, full of bits and broth. Up it soared from the bowl to my waiting maw before its final descent, post-mastication, down into the darkened depths of my gurgling gut.

What did I taste you wonder? An explosion of flavour swirled in my mouth and my initial verdict was simply, “This is a good soup”. But a good flavour alone is not the hallmark of a good soup in my opinion; other factors must be considered! The yield of the recipe proved prodigious for the modest amount of ingredients involved, a good sign after the initial flavour. The time it took to make was not too bad, putting the meal in a mid-range of time required to for prep to table presentation. So with a good flavour, large yield, and mid-range prep time this proved to be a viable vegetarian soup recipe that would likely be made again. I finished my bowl and approached the final test… how full was I? Much to my surprise, I did not require a second bowl after all, as the soup was quite filling. Satisfied with my efforts I packaged up the remaining soup and continued on with my day, thinking this exercise in flavour discovery complete. What I had not realized in that moment was that I was missing one of the most important ingredients of all…

Time! No, not thyme, but time itself – the inexorable march forward that all linear corporeal beings are slave to – always plays an important role in food preparation and doubly so when it comes to a meal like soup. I had not considered this when I made and then immediately consumed the soup. I was fortunate that I did not fall victim to my own hubris in this regard, as later that evening I returned once more to the soup pot, this time to retrieve a sampling for both the wife and myself. This time, things were different. This time, flavour magic had occurred!

Giving the soup a few hours to set and let all the ingredients properly mingle and absorb into each other I found the flavour noticeably elevated. Where before I had a soup now I had a symphony of flavours all working to form a glorious melody to delight the taste and smell senses, yet it was also hearty and satisfying. It was at this point that I thought to myself, “This is a very good soup.”

Like my spoon scraping the bottom of the empty bowl, all good things must come to an end, and so too much this review end. Overall I found this a fun exercise in cooking with a delicious result I would definitely make again in the future. I would be interested in trying the substitution with Garam Masala, adding a touch more garlic and coconut milk, and a dollop of sour creme or creme fraiche would really finish off the flavour and presentation of this delightful recipe.

Recipe: 4 out of 5 Stars
Soup: 4.5 out of 5 Spoons

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Soup Review: A Brief History

Posted by aBethke on Sunday Nov 18, 2018 Under Soup Review

At work one day I stumbled upon a conversation between two of my colleagues, a programmer and an artist, involving soup reviews. Skipping some of the personal details of the people involved, the one guy would get soups to try from the other guy’s wife’s work and then write playful about the soups for the entertainment of the couple and some of our colleagues at work. Recently however the soup reviewer ended up leaving our work for other opportunities and I have attempted to pick up the torch and continue the tradition of Soup Reviews.

 

Modifying the original format slightly I will be finding recipes to both make and consume, and in so doing, will review both the recipe and the result. The reviews will be sporadic, with no set schedule, because honestly, I’m just being realistic about how much time I’ll have to write soup reviews, but I love cooking and my family has got to eat so this might be a fun way to add a little extra zest to the grind of cooking food daily for the wife and kid. XD

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