SOUPS

CREAM OF GINGER AND CARROT SOUP

The recipe for Cream of Ginger Carrot soup came out of desperation when I was chef/owner of Dominic’s Restaurant on the urban archipelago of Peoria.

I looked over the shelves twice before I found what I needed.

There, between a big wheel of Parmigiana and a tub over flowing with bouquets of fragrant parsley and basil, poking out like the gnarly brown hand of an alien creature hiding in my walk-in, was a big piece of ginger root.

As I stood there looking at the two bins of humble tubers, cream of carrot soup was the inevitable choice. But what could I add to raise it above a bowl of creamy, pureed carrots, that brought to mind babies in stained bibs and old people with false teeth?

The sight of it was all I needed and I was on my way to the cutting board.

From a dire situation I was able to create one of our most popular soups.

On that day I learned a very important lesson – a chef’s most useful ingredient is his creativity.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

2.5 LBS                                                                Carrots

2.25 Cups (one large) Sliced                             Onion

2 – 3 Oz, Sliced & Peeled                                  Ginger Root, Fresh

8 Cups                                                                 Water

5 Ea.                                                                    Chicken Bouillon Cubes

4-5 Oz.                                                                 Olive Oil

3-4 Oz.                                                                 Dry White Wine

4- 6 Oz.                                                                Heavy Cream

PROCESS

  1. Peel carrots and slice thin. Peel onions and slice med width strips.
  2. Sauté carrots and onions in oil until oil is orange in color and carrots lose their sharp edges.
  3. Add all other ingredients EXCEPT cream salt and pepper. Reserve remainder of wine for consumption with finished soup or throughout remainder of cooking process. Cook on low boil until carrots are VERY soft. This will take at least an hour. Do not cover the pot for most of this time. It is desirable to have some evaporation, this will intensify the flavor.
  4. Let soup cool then strain out the tubers and reserve the liquid.
  5. Run the solid pieces, with a small amount of the liquid, through a food processor or blender until smooth.
  6. Now place the pureed soup back on the stove heat until to a simmer. Add the cream then salt and pepper to taste. Never boil a soup that has cream add, it will ‘break’.

This can be served in a small hollowed out pumpkin for a real autumn presentation

MINESTRONE SOUP

If I was cooking in Villa Santa Maria on a snowy night like this, Minestrone soup would be simmering on my stove. This is a photo of Villa Santa Maria, the town my grandfather lived in before he came to America in 1910 or so. He probably cooked this same soup there on a night like this.

Enrico gave this recipe to my mother and she handed it down to me when I was in cooking school back in 1982. When I opened my restaurant, Dominic’s in 1995, it went on the menu to honor my mother and my grandfather.

When my mom made this for us she often added cannelloni beans or ditalini pasta, sometimes not.

No matter, it was a family favorite and a favorite at Dominic’s too.

I hope you enjoy it.

Happy cooking!

INGREDIENTS

1.75lbs Onion, Large dice

.5 lbs Celery, Large dice

.4 lbs Carrots, Large dice

1 lbs Green Cabbage, Julienne

1 oz Garlic, Chopped large

8 oz. Red Bell Peppers, Large dice

2 cups, Canned tomatoes, Peeled in juice, drained

8 strips, Bacon, Chopped

1 cup, White wine, Dry

4 oz, Tomato paste

10 oz, Olive oil

42 oz, Chicken Stock

.5 cups, Parsley, Chopped

.5 table spoon, Basil, dry

.5 table spoon, Rosemary, fresh, Chopped

Salt & Pepper To taste

PROCESS

  1. Chop the canned tomatoes.
  2. In large pot, on a high flame, brown the bacon and garlic in the olive oil. Stir frequently.
  3. Lower the flame to medium high and add all vegetables except cabbage. Saute until onions are translucent. Stir frequently.
  4. Add the stock and bring to a low boil then turn down the flame and keep on a simmer for about twenty minutes or until the vegetables are soft but still firm. Just a few bubbles breaking the surface of the soup is where you want it to be.
  5. Use a separate pan and lightly saute the cabbage in a small amount of olive oil. Mix frequently so it does not burn. When done, add it to the soup, before it boils.
  6. Add salt and black pepper to taste. If you want to make a lite meal of this, serve with a thick slice of toasted Italian bread.

TOMATO SOUP WITH POTATOES AND PEAS

I was in the mood for tomato soup the other day, but I wanted to make it differently then my usual recipe. To get inspired, I resorted to the method I used when I was a professional chef. I opened up the refrigerator and looked over the ingredients. I just let my mind wander over the items on the shelves. As I thought about their aromas, textures, and tastes, ideas bubbled up in my imagination and I wrote down the out line of this recipe.

This is what I came up with. I hope you try it and enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS

2ea. 28 oz cans of tomatoes peeled in juice + 3-4 ounces of water.

3ea. Cloves garlic

4-5ea. Yukon Gold Potato

1ea. Medium Size Carrot

1ea. Large Yellow Onion

4-5T Olive Oil

4-5T Vegetable or Soy to brown potatoes in

3ea. Bay Leaves

1ea. Large Oregano Sprig

3ea. Large Basil leaves

1/4 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley

2oz Green Peas

PROCESS

Ingredient Prep: Puree tomatoes, peel and dice very small the carrots and onions, peel and cube large the potatoes, peel then crush the garlic, rough chop the oregano and the basil.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Brown the crushed garlic in the olive oil. Set aside when done
  2. On a medium heat, lightly saute the carrots and onions in the same oil, stirring constantly. When done add back the browned garlic, also, the pureed tomatoes, oregano, and basil leaves. Bring to a simmer. Spoon off most of the foam that may rise to the top of the soup. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. While the tomatoes are cooking, brown the cubed potatoes in the vegetable oil. Work them frequently so they don’t stick. After the tomatoes have cooked for 15minutes add the the browned potatoes and peas. Cook until the potatoes are soft.
  4. The last five minutes of the cooking add the flat parsley, stems and leaves. You can tie it in a bunch so it will be easy to remove later. Make sure it is completely submerged.
  5. Season to taste. Remove the parsley when serving the soup.
  6. A toasted slice of crusty Italian or French bread and lite red wine, are a perfect match.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

This mushroom soup is packed with earthy flavor and is simple to make. Using an immersion blender to puree this, right in the pot, makes it even easier. You can add a few dried porcinis to this, or, sub the chicken stock for beef stock. If you are a vegetarian, sub the chicken stock with water.

INGREDIENTS

2.5 Lbs mushrooms, sliced thick

1Lg onion

3T parsley, chopped

1/2 gallon chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

4-5 oz white wine, dry

2 oz olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

6 – 8 quart pot, preferable with a heavy bottom.

PROCESS

Slice mushrooms and large dice onions.

On a high heat, saute onions in oil for a half minute.

Stir frequently.Add sliced mushrooms and saute for two or three minutes longer, until they lose their raw appearance. Stir frequently.

Add wine and stock and cook on a low boil until mushrooms are very tender.

Turn off the heat and puree the soup until smooth and all chunks are gone.

Add cream and parsley. Simmer for five minutes.

Season to taste.

Buon appetito !

Escarole Soup

When I was at university I lived with my two aunts for a time. One was a fabulous baker, the other a fabulous cook. Aunt Sabina was the cook and she would prepare dishes her father the chef taught her how to make. My stay there was a blessing and I learned a lot of family recipes during that time.

One night she made escarole flavored with toasted garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped anchovies and black, oil cured olives. Frankly, I turned my nose up at the mention of it. But once the kitchen filled with it’s wonderful, pungent aroma I changed my attitude.

Years later I wanted to expand on those rich flavors and created a soup around them.

INGREDIENTS

2-3 medium heads Escarole

1 large onion

3-4 large cloves garlic

3-4 oz. olive oil

6-8 Kalamata olives

2 ea, red bell peppers

To cover, chicken stock

.25 tsp, or to taste red pepper flakes

PROCESS

1) Roast the red pepper and char the skin as shown in the photo. (I put them in direct contact with the flame of the burners on the top of the stove. Just make sure you turn them often.) Once cooked, clean off the blackened skin, remove the pith and seeds and cut into strips.

2) Peel and crush the garlic. Peel and slice the onion into strips. Cut off the base of Escarole head. Wash the leaves well, cut into wide strips. Remove the pits from the olives and leave them in large peices.

3) In a heavy bottom pot, or saute pan, saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil. Do this over a medium heat until the onions are soft. Stir frequently.

4) Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30-40 seconds. We want to spread their heat into the oil without burning them.

5) Add the red peppers and mix well. Let them cook in the oil for a minute or so.

6) Add all the other ingredient and bring to a low boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes.

7) Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a slice of Italian bread that has been brushed with olive oil and toast on the grill.

Buon appetito !

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