By Carolyne

Sauté a half small onion and a generous whole garlic clove, and add a coarsely chopped head of well-washed broccoli. I say well-washed for a reason: One day many years ago, I learned a valuable lesson with a nice fresh store-bought head of broccoli. I cut off the bottom ends of each segment and washed it carefully in an oversize colander, only to discover when I pulled the head apart that there was the most beautiful colour-matched caterpillar hiding deep inside. I never would have seen it, but it moved. I thought I was seeing things. I let the caterpillar finish its lunch by gently tossing the piece out in the garden, with the caterpillar intact.

In the large pot, cover the broccoli with well-seasoned homemade chicken stock, and add two medium-size peeled potatoes, quartered. Add two small whole peeled carrots and one small stick of celery. Salt as you would for boiled potatoes.



Adjust the chicken stock to cover completely. Generously salt and pepper. Add a most tiny sprinkle of poultry seasoning or a quarter teaspoon of fresh chopped sage, (easy on the sage, either way; it’s in the poultry seasoning and it can be overpowering); a sprinkle of chopped rosemary and crushed thyme. Add a pinch of fresh, freeze-dried parsley (LiteHouse brand is terrific) and just a tiny bit of basil. Finally, add a tablespoon of granulated sugar and a few pieces of your favourite sweet apple.

When the potatoes and other vegetables are fork tender, remove the pot from the fire. When cooled slightly, purée in a blender or kitchen machine. You can package and freeze this base until ready to use.

Note: If I happen to have frozen mirepoix, leftover from some other cooking, I toss it into this soup and continue to simmer briefly, before I purée.

On a day you will use it, thaw the base in the refrigerator and when ready to prepare, scald half and half cream on high heat, 1:3 letting it rise and fall three times to reduce. Add small chunks of cheddar cheese and stir constantly until the cheese melts into the cream. (You don’t have to add the cheese; the plain soup is still very good.)

Remove the scalded, reduced cream from the burner. Stir in the broccoli base.

Now for the gourmet touch, just when ready to serve: add a little congealed figgy jus from your Asbach Uralt cognac marinating jar and drop in a small, finely chopped marinated black mission fig, on top of a dollop of very cold full-fat sour cream.

Another way to serve: Into a hot bowl of soup, top with a dollop of tight full-fat sour cream. Do not stir. Carefully mound on top of the sour cream dollop, a teaspoon of Beet and Red Onion marmalade by WildlyDelicious. The gentle “kick” of the marmalade makes a wonderful mix of flavours, as you enjoy your first spoonful.

A different serving option:

You could toast diagonally cut slices of black-olive bread or baguette, butter the toasts generously and use as soup dippers. Or you could cut the toasts into crispy croutons and float the crunchy croutons on the soup plates, as you serve.

Or, when ready to serve and the steaming hot creamy soup is being plated, add a puck of your marinated Celebrity label creamy Canadian goat cheese. Do not stir. Drizzle with maple syrup. This delightful mixture of flavours will have you wanting seconds.

In the holiday season, you might like to top the dollop of very cold sour cream with some sweet gooey sautéed cranberries. I make a wonderful, very sweet, rhubarb confit and it can be used as a topper, too.

Note: Don’t eat the base before adding it to the scalded reduced cream. You might find it tastes awful; on the odd occasion broccoli can be bitter, although served as a vegetable I have never found it to be. However, once added to the hot reduced cream, it is truly terrific! And any bitterness disappears. Adjust seasoning just before serving. You might want to add a little salt and pepper.

If you love broccoli, you might want to try this very different broccoli soup. With the winter weather upon us, you might want to stock up your freezer with lots of containers of homemade chicken broth, and the base for several easy-to-make and easier-to-enjoy soups that I have posted on REM. Send me an email if you want additional winter weather soup recipes.

© From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks – Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience 

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. The cookbook will be available in the coming year. Email Carolyne.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Add to Roasted Bell Pepper Soup recipe:
    When peppers have roasted, remove a tablespoon or two, let cool a little, and stir into plain, whipped Celebrity brand Canadian goat cheese.

    Spread on tapas made from toasted black-olive bread. Top with a small strip of the roasted pepper.

    ALTERNATE: Whirr a tin of garbanzo beans in their liquid in bowl of kitchen machine. Blend in equal amount of the goat cream cheese. Incorporate a tablespoon of the roasted bell peppers. (You could use BBQ grilled peppers.)

    Fill marinated button mushrooms and top with black-olive bread breadcrumbs and brown for just seconds under the broiler. Careful not to burn. Leave oven door ajar.

    Serve immediately as hot hors d’ouvres.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

  2. Asparagus … Not to be missed
    (Add to Souper-Supper column)

    For some people, asparagus is an acquired taste, like olives or broccoli. But once you have discovered it, you will wonder why it hasn’t been a regular at your table.

    Rinse the stalks well to be sure there is no sand tucked in the little picks that protrude on the stems. With a very sharp serrated knife chop off just a half inch of the root end. Toss away.

    Most people scrape the outer picks off. I don’t. I just snap the stalks at the most malleable spot. But absolutely save the long tough ends for making the most wonderful soup.

    I sauté the stalks in a low sides stainless steel skillet, in sizzling but not brown (unsalted) butter for less than five minutes. Cover at a tilt just briefly when nearly cooked.

    Remove the skillet to another burner. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Let rest but serve as soon as possible. You want the asparagus to be just al dente, not mushy. And the asparagus will continue to cook in its own heat while resting.

    Nothing is faster to prepare and cook. It’s delicious, nutritious and should be part of every weekly food list. And this underrated and underused vegetable pairs well with almost every meat or poultry dish. (You can serve asparagus at room temperature or even cold, as part of a salad or hors d’ouvres; try wrapping it in prosciutto for a quick treat.) Asparagus is also a wonderful accompaniment with crepes, or just plain, served with toast tips.

    If you aren’t familiar with asparagus, you are in for a wonderful surprise. But now a really important lesson: Save the snapped off tough ends. Prepare them immediately or save for another day.

    Using a medium soup pot, cover the tough stalks with homemade chicken broth. For a typical large asparagus bunch I use about three cups of well-seasoned broth. Add two tiny potatoes, quartered, and a small quartered piece of onion, and a tiny whole carrot. Drop in a tiny whole garlic clove. Sprinkle just a few grains of thyme into the broth.

    If you are serving adults only, add a tablespoon of Asbach Uralt cognac to the chicken broth. Blanche the tough, sometimes woody, stalks in the broth till barely fork tender. But the stalks will still be tough. That’s perfectly okay. You will find the ends bits are still woody in texture. That’s okay, too.

    Put the broth and blanched end stalks into a blender that has a sharp “grind-setting.” Pulse several times, then put the machine on full grind to break down the tough fibre, then rest the machine so it doesn’t overheat the motor. Rest the machine for about five minutes, and then using the purée button, continue to blend until all the stalks are no longer visible. I find my blender does a better job than the kitchen machine.

    Strain the purée into a large bowl, pushing the purée through the sieve, wiping off the under side of the sieve with a rubber spatula. Only a few tiny strings will be in the sieve. You are going to eat all that otherwise would be tossed away fibre, and not even recognize it. You won’t see a drop of fibre.

    You can freeze this mixture for use on another day, or continue to prepare and serve.

    Scald a large cup of half and half cream. Let reduce to thicken slightly. Add the asparagus purée and remove from heat source. Do not freeze after you have incorporated cream.

    Adjust seasonings, and serve piping hot. A beautiful soup served with my black-olive bread special croutons, ideally smeared with oven-roasted garlic clove purée.

    The cream soup reheats well but be careful not to burn. Cream soups stick easily to the bottom of the pot. Use a Bain Marie or your microwave in a glass dish only; never use plastic in a microwave.

    If you pack a work lunch using a thermos (rinse the thermos with boiling hot water), prepare the soup extra hot. It will be perfect to drink from your office cup, or even while travelling.

    As you can see, once again, absolutely nothing gets wasted in my kitchen. Nearly everyone I know tosses away the broken off asparagus ends. An incredible waste. The soup takes no time at all to prepare since you are in the kitchen anyhow.

    ALTERNATE: For a very special soup dinner table presentation, top an oven-proof serving bowl with a cut to size piece of frozen butter puff pastry and put in a very hot oven. 400 F, on middle rack, just until the pastry puffs. Serve immediately. Position the puffed pastry hot soup bowl on a napkin on an oversize charger plate. Position a round real soup spoon on either side to help disassemble the puffed pastry.

    OR, extra-special: Whip full fat cream until soft peaks form. Drizzle just a few drops of real vanilla. Then fold in a quarter cup of sweet, congealed, cognac figgy jus from your Asbach black mission fig marinating jar; or, a quarter cup of the very best maple syrup. Do not over-stir. Just incorporate.

    Drizzle one tablespoon of the cream sauce over top a wide flat bowl of my creamy asparagus soup, just when ready to serve. Do not stir. Top with a few threads of very fine chiffonade of fresh black mission fig.

    Served with any choice of my wonderful salads, this soup becomes a whole meal, lunch or brunch. The soup can be prepared a day ahead if you have overnight guests, and can be easily reheated. ENJOY!

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

  3. Part 3 Broken Segment – end of year article REM Soup-er Supper 2017

    And then, this piece de resistance!

    CHICKEN SOUP – My Amazing Chicken Soup

    Fill a very large soup pot with cold water. Submerse the rack of bones from a whole chicken. Bring to a gentle boil, and simmer for twenty minutes. Cover and let sit on the burner.

    Prepare vegetables: wash and cut flowerets from a medium cauliflower, a medium broccoli, and chopped two cups of fresh pulled carrots.

    Chop celery sticks to fill a cup and a half. Peel two large firm potatoes. Choose potatoes that hold their firmness, not fluffy ones. Rinse and put the potatoes in a bowl of cold water.

    Open a package of frozen chopped green beans. For some reason this works better than fresh chopped green beans. Set aside a cup and a half. But the other vegetables must be fresh only.

    Split each potato in half lengthwise. Again split each half lengthwise. Then cut in strips as for French fries. Using the mound of fry shaped potato strips, chop into small cubes (less than a half inch in size). Spread the potatoes out on a board or platter and liberally salt.

    Cover potatoes immediately in cold water to which you have added a half teaspoon of white sugar. You will add the potatoes to the soup near the end. They cook very fast.

    Re-boil the rack of chicken bones. Let boil gently for fifteen minutes. Remove the bones and keep on a large platter or in another pot.

    Strain the chicken broth into a fresh pot, to remove any small bones. Add the bits in the strainer to the bones holding pot. Using two forks, or your fingers, remove all the bits of chicken from the bones and put into the chicken broth.

    Bring broth to a gentle boil. Add one generous clove of garlic. Must do. Do not crush the garlic clove. It will poach in the broth, then mash it with a fork. Add a teaspoon of crushed dry thyme. Add a quarter teaspoon of crushed fresh rosemary. Add a tablespoon of salt. Add a few grinds of peppercorns.

    Now this next ingredient is what makes this soup unusual. At grocery stores you can buy packets of Swiss Chalet dipping sauce and gravies; you want the sauce. Prepare according to directions, but making the sauce quite thick. Stir the whole thing into the soup broth. Add a quarter cup of enhancer called Maggi. These two additions are a must.

    Put all the chopped vegetables into the gently boiling broth, except the potatoes. Simmer just minutes, till cauliflower, broccoli and carrots are tender. Add potatoes. They will cook rapidly.

    Add a small chopped white onion. The onion will cook fast. Do not chop the onion ahead of time, unless you can keep it submersed in cold water. Once onion is open and exposed to air, it attracts all sorts of bacteria in the air.

    Cover and leave the soup pot on the burner, but turn off the heat. Taste to adjust salt.

    You can divide and freeze in quantities that suit. The flavour is amazing right away, but if eaten the next day, the married flavoursbecome quite incredible.

    Alternate version: at the last minute, bring broth to a boil, and add two chopped fresh red tomatoes and a handful of fresh spinach leaves. The spinach will just wilt perfectly.

    Alternate two: add two cups of par boiled macaroni elbows and or a cup of tinned kidney beans with their juice. And you have wonderful homemade minestrone soup. You can also add tiny fresh uncooked meatballs. They will cook quickly in the broth.

    Now for the piece de resistance: make sure soup is very very hot. To each serving add a “slice” of individually plastic wrapped cheese; yes, the kind that isn’t real cheese completely. Stir into hot liquid. The cheese slice will melt and turn the broth a little creamy. Completely blend by stirring well.

    If serving several, segment soup into a smaller pot, using a large soup ladle (don’t have a large ladle? use a ceramic coffee mug), and reheat and stir in one cheese slice for each serving. Stir well to incorporate.

    I have been told by people who eat this soup that it is the best they have ever eaten. I think so, too. ENJOY! In all seasons of the year, with toast or buttered warm rolls. Or serve with fresh homemade buttered plain bread. It’s truly an amazing eating treasure!

    Keep some soup in the freezer for reheating for someone who is under the weather. Or just for a treat to thaw out your body after a cold rainy weather walk.

    Packs well to reheat at work, or take in a thermos container to the office.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: if you cannot buy the packets of sauce, use “my” sauce; not exactly a replica of the store bought chicken version, but will work almost as well.

    Alternate to chicken soup: Beef soup is terrific, too.

    You can make a similar soup by braising stewing beef on all sides, in browned butter, until fork tender. Let the pot really brown but careful not to burn. Salt, pepper, and sprinkle with just a little garlic salt.

    Remove the beef chunks and cut into small bite size pieces, using a very sharp knife. Deglaze pan with a full flavoured red wine.Nothing sweet on the palate. Use about two full cups of wine. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce just a little.

    Add several cups of homemade beef or chicken broth. Keep some in the freezer for just this purpose. Prepare and add the chicken dipping sauce packet mix, or a full container of restaurant bought brand chicken dipping sauce. Add the Maggi.

    Add the beef back into the Dutch oven or large soup pot after the vegetables are cooked, just before serving, or freezing to store..

    You might choose not to add the cheese slices to the beef soup. It’s a personal thing. Good to the last drop, of course.

    BUT, yet another alternate: you might choose to prepare this version of the beef soup…

    In a cold naked skillet, cover the skillet in a thin layer of cream of wheat (cereal) grains. Turn heat on medium high. Don’t walk away from the stove. Gently shake the skillet, or use an egg turner backwards and move the grains around in the pan. Toast just lightly. But note, if you want a very brown, quite different taste, toast the grains till they are just not quite burned. Each level of brownness presents a very different taste.

    Add the hot grains to the soup pot, just before serving. CAREFUL: the grains are very hot and try to mimic a little volcanic like explosion in the soup pot. Just add a little bit of the grains initially. Stir and serve. You will be absolutely amazed the wonderfulflavour that the grains bring to the soup. This is an old European standby. But wherever you come from, you will certainly enjoy the flavours.

    ADD-ON

    In a separate small bowl, combine 4 room temperature egg yolks with a half-cup of red port wine (I was given a very special port gift recently… Offley label – imported locally by PMA, with the big red “R”; a perfect use here.) Those who know me, know I’m not a drinker as such, but they introduce me to very special choices for my “pantry,” where I get to experiment in my kitchen, creating wonderful things to share with my readers.

    Gently add the egg-port to hot, not boiling, soup being careful not to let the eggs coagulate; you don’t want the eggs to curdle. You can temper the eggs first, ideally, just to be cautious. The addition of the port-enhanced egg yolks will thicken the liquid a little differently than cream. To make the soup extra creamy, add in and stir to melt, gobs of double-cream Brie just when ready to serve.

    Instead of regular croutons, top with thick cubes of toasted, buttered, black-olive bread.Sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve very hot. Or cover with puff pastry and bake in individual servings, till pastry is just puffed. Sprinkle with a little minced fresh rosemary. Or perhaps just place a full twig on top as a decoration when serving. It smells wonderful.

    Hint crossover: You could apply this egg-yolk technique from my French Onion Soup ~ English Style, to a chicken broth based vegetable soup, turning it into a wonderful instant creamy soup. The addition of the port-egg yolks and the Brie makes for an amazing texture and flavour enhancer.

    And last, but definitely not least …

    Soup’s On … one of the best, Cream Consommé (vegetable or sea food)

    My cream consommé soups will haveguests ooh-ing and ahh-ing at your table, too. Beyond yum.

    Bring a few cups, perhaps six, rich seasoned chicken stock to a soft boil. Using the egg whites from the yolk separation, gently slip the whites into the gently rolling chicken stock.

    The whites will coagulate. The whites will gather any bits floating in the chicken stock, and attach to itself any fat particles, helping to clarify the broth. Remove the whites immediately, using a slotted spoon.

    Strain the chicken broth through cheesecloth, into a clean pot. The same way you would if you were preparing beef consommé.

    Drop in a few crushed crocus stamens, known as saffron. Just a pinch. It is expensive and very powerful.

    In a glass bowl, lightly whisk four egg yolks with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Temper with the clarified hot chicken stock, then turn the yolks into the stock pot and stir gently. Keep heat low.

    Add half and half cream. Your choice; maybe a cup. Heat but do not boil.

    Add a few pieces of anything you like to the soup base, such as blanched broccoli, or blanched whole small onions, or blanched chopped asparagus. A bit of wilted fresh spinach is nice.

    When ready to serve, add a small dollop of sour cream and drizzle each bowl with just a little real maple syrup. Or use just a little jus from your black-mission fig Asbach Uraltmarinating jar.

    ALTERNATE: add chopped marinated inAsbach Uralt cognac black mission figs to the broth, just at serving time. A dollop of sour cream or stiff whipped cream with a few drops of the fig marinade cognac jus.

    Another alternate is to make soup using this same procedure, but with lobster or shrimp broth made from what you have kept on hand in your freezer, your collected mixed seafood shells.

    When ready to serve, add three medium large cooked shrimp to each serving plate style bowl, or a few generous size pieces of flambéed lobster or crab claw meat.

    Drizzle this dish with a little homemade “lobster oil,” made by stovetop roasting lobster shells in oil, to which you have sprinkled a little sweet (not the BBQ’d one, unless you want hot oil) paprika. Strain the oil through cheesecloth before sprinkling on the paprika.

    You won’t be able to resist serving any of these delights to your friends who appreciate gourmet. My special treat. From my kitchen to yours, to end the year with your choice of a hot bowl of my very special original soups.

    ===

    AND, last but definitely not least… a wonderful, simple, quick to make treasure using cans… (yes, cans)…

    Black Bean and White Bean Soup

    Prepare mire poix using cubed carrots, onions, and celery. Add herbs and spices: thyme, nutmeg, freeze-dried fresh parsley (it’s really like fresh, bottle called LiteHousebrand). Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and chili powder, and whole cloves of garlic (mash the garlic when it is soft). Add two medium small potatoes diced. Sauté in unsalted butter till fork tender

    Add one large tin of white kidney beans, and one large tin of black beans with liquid.

    Add a half large tin of tomatoes, and one teaspoon of granulated sugar. Add four cups of freshly made, strained, chicken broth made from bones, carrots, celery, onions, whole cloves of garlic, and adjust herbs and spices. Simmer the soup pot, to reduce by a third. The liquid will congeal a little from the starch texture of the beans.

    Pulse briefly using a handheld emulsion blender, leaving as coarse as you prefer. Toss in a small handful of pulled, fresh, washed to be sand-free, spinach leaves. The spinach will wilt in the hot liquid almost instantly.

    Stir in a quarter cup of Asbach Uralt cognac. (If serving children, just leave out the brandy.)

    Serve in wide flat soup bowels with a dollop of sour cream (do not stir) to which you have added a little white truffle Dijon mustard (Petite Maison brand) and fresh grated horseradish. Top each serving with a half teaspoon of Beet and Red Onion Marmalade.

    If you have on hand a loaf of black-olive bread, make my special croutons and drop a small handful on each serving, scattered around the edges of each bowl.

    You could always just top each bowl of soup with grated (grate it in your kitchen machine from a fresh wedge) Parmesan cheese.

    A wonderful winter addition to your soup kitchen. Soup’s On! Hurry home après ski or skating excursion, or from a long cold walk with the dogs.

    ALTERNATE: You could turn this soup into a creamy bean soup by adding a scalded, thickened cream 1:4 ratio, just when ready to serve. Or serve the original as made, and then the second day, turn the leftover base into a cream soup. Truly a treat, indeed.

    OR: If you happen to have frozen some base for my multi-colour Roasted Bell Pepper Soup, for a wow different version of this soup, add a half cup of the pepper soup base. Just stir and let thaw into the bean soup mix.

    If you really love oven-roasted garlic, and have some on hand in the refrigerator (I find the garlic puree is really easy to store and keeps for ages, not in oil, just plain garlic puree in a covered glass small jar, and those seriously deathly spores don’t grow), simply stir in a spoonful when the soup is nearly finished cooking and has reduced substantially. ENJOY!

    AND, for a treat that is simply original and totally different, simmer two or three generous size, room temperature, pork hocks in the soup, simmering long and at low heat, the same way you do with my split green pea soup.

    http://www.remonline.com/fried-green-tomatoes-and-a-great-soup-recipe/ (split green pea soup)

    Keep the heat low, the pot covered, and be patient, allowing the pork hocks to cook gently and slowly. The meat just falls off the bone and flavours the base in a totally different way. Grilled garlic bread as a dipper would be nice served with this version.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

  4. Part 2 – Soup-er Supper Add-on

    Start here: (the original Soup-er Supper REM link, December 2017 last column of the year.

    http://www.remonline.com/recipes-realtors-soups/

    And then… Just read the rest as copied for you, here.

    ===

    And then consider this. . . (This copy was meant to be together with the Soup’s On recipes)… as part of a whole segment in the manuscript on “Soups.” Sadly it was too large for the REM space, so with editor Jim’s permission, I add it here, as an add-on, because the recipes all tie together, in theory. You might want to print out the set, and keep it aside for a cold winter day meal. ENJOY! It’s the last column of the year, and meant as a special thank you to our REM recipe readers. Thank you to those who communicate privately, but feel free to post at REM any time.

    Black-Olive Bread Baguette ~ Croutons – OH! MY!

    Slice the loaf and rewrap and freeze if you aren’t going to use the bread right away.

    When you are ready to add the croutons to your hot soup individual servings, toast the baguette slices, or crisp them on a sheet pan under the broiler (with the door open).

    Butter the hot toast and make into croutons by cutting each baguette slice into two or four small pieces, and toss on top of any soup to make a spectacular addition to your soup serving.

    Works great on my French Onion Soup ~ English Style, or on top of this new recipe for Creamy Broccoli Cheese soup; try it even on old-fashioned homemade chicken soup, my creamy Vichyssoise, my Rustic Mushroom Soup, my Creamy Tomato Soup, my Roasted Bell Pepper Soup, or any other of my original collection of homemade soups.

    And whatever you do, don’t toss out the crunchy end pieces of the black-olive bread if you don’t prefer to eat them. They make wonderful breadcrumbs. Freeze them till you get enough to whir in the food processor and use as you would any other breadcrumbs for a delightfully different breading coating for chicken, for fish, or anything else you pan-fry or oven roast. I like a medium grind black-olive bread pulsed in the food processor. I have a handy, tiny food processor I bought years ago at Canadian Tire kitchen department. Cost about twenty dollars, and worth every penny. I can make just a few fresh breadcrumbs just when ready to bread a particular dish. You can bag the black-olive breadcrumbs and freeze the crumbs. The frozen crumbs thaw really quickly. Of course you could also always make a black-olive bread bruschetta.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    ===

    A Spectacular Soup-Surprise:

    Leberknoedel Suppe: Liver Dumpling Soup (BEST SOUP EVER, HELPS HEAL the BODY, MIND, and SOUL)

    It had been more than twenty years since I made this. A little longer since I ordered it in my favorite Austrian restaurant. The place was sold to local people after the European owners were not healthy enough to run it anymore.

    Sadly they implemented a more North American menu and in less than a couple of years it closed its doors. We had gone there often since the late 60’s.

    Like many other eateries of the day, you could order a three course dinner: soup, side salad, schnitzel and goulash with homemade egg noodles, for only $6-$10.

    And by the early 2000’s the prices had doubled but were still only half the price of other places. A good beer for those who imbibe or a cool glass of wine and dessert cost extra.

    We lived nearby until the mid 70’s, when we moved 35 miles to the other side of the city but we continued to go there often. There was seating for only 50 people including a small Stammtisch. All very authentic. Dark atmosphere surrounded by beer steins and Euro decor. Quiet, delightful, restful place that served lunch and dinner. Not open on Sunday.

    I sometimes would bring home a frozen package of their liver dumplings to make soup at home. Frozen, they kept for ages. So after they closed I made my ownleberknoedel from time to time. A little bit time-consuming and somewhat messy but so worth it, and you can make extra, and the liver dumplings freeze well.

    I recently went to a local European deli thinking I might pick up a package of frozen liver dumplings like the restaurant sold to their guests when requested, to take home, rather than make my own, just as a treat. My, oh my! When I inquired, since I could not locate the dumplings where I thought they might be, even the boss of the major German deli, with five locations, looked at me like I had two heads.

    They had never heard of liver dumplings –Leberknoedel. Here the European deli’s are in short supply and much of the food is no longer authentic. Now selling North Americanized versions of most things European. Not the originals brought by the immigrants from Germany, from Holland, and other mainland Europe countries.

    ===

    Some people from overseas use beef broth, and mix beef with the ground liver. I do neither. But it is always handy to have either or both broths on hand. Start by saving up chicken or beef bones to make your own broth to use for chicken soup. Freeze the bones till you have a pot full. Make an extra large pot of chicken stock with lots of vegetables.

    Make extra because you will divide off half the liquid to save for your leberknoedelsoup. You just want the flavor of the veggies for the liver dumpling soup, but leave the veggies in the other portion for chicken soup. Serve the remainder as your regular homemade chicken soup. (You can add cream and cheese to your chicken vegetable soup, if you like.)

    You will use this dedicated broth to poach the liver dumplings. Add a splash of Maggi.Maggi is a must to keep on hand in your pantry supply. Use just a little because it can easily overpower the flavours, but you definitely need it for this broth. I always useMaggi in my chicken soups.

    For those who are not familiar with the product, it is a little like a liquidized Oxocube, but different. I have used it since the 1960s, so it has been on the market here a long time. Was told it originated in Hollandbut learned recently Maggi started out elsewhere. It is a staple in my pantry, and keeps, I think, forever.

    Leberknoedel Suppe: Liver Dumpling Soup

    Using about a pound of calf’s or beef liver, in a food processor or strong very sharp blade blender, pulse-chop chunks of liver. I freeze the liver slightly making it easier to handle and pre cut it into small pieces making the load easier for the machine.

    Just machine chop the liver very tiny, less than pea size, don’t liquify it. Turn the pulsed liver out into a large mixing bowl. Add three or four slices of day-old bread that you softened a little in milk or cream.

    Squeeze out as much of the liquid from the soaked bread, as you can. Pull apart the bread into small pieces or chop into small dice. Add about a half cup of very finely chopped white onion. Stir in one beaten egg.

    Add a quarter cup of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves – the product by LiteHousecalled “freeze-dried fresh” in a bottle; the bottle says it contains three bunches of parsley – is amazing; it reconstitutes beautifully, a pinch of dried fresh thyme, and a pinch of grated nutmeg. A little salt and pepper. This mixture needs a little bit more salt to enhance the flavour.

    Now massage in about a cup of plain flour, half at a time. If you need more stability, add more bread rather than more flour. Do not over knead. Just incorporate.

    You can use a wide spatula and fold in the flour if you prefer. The mixture will go tough if you mix too much. Keep it light and fluffy but firm. Refrigerate for about an hour. The texture will firm up in the fridge.

    While you are preparing the dumplings bring your chicken soup naked broth to a simmer. Keep the heat constant because the temperature will drop as you add the dumplings. You will want at least eight cups of broth.

    Using a cup of hot water to rinse an ice cream scoop, make the dumplings as round as you can, loosely speaking. Rather large is important aesthetically. About half cup size to three-quarters cup size, and simmer for 10-12 minutes stirring gently occasionally. You don’t want the dumplings to break apart.

    You want the fresh liver dumplings just done, not over cooked. They might look a little pink in the centre, like when cooking chicken livers. Absolutely do not boil; just simmer. Dumplings will go tough if you boil or over cook.

    With a slotted spoon, remove the poached dumplings to a covered bowl and let rest. Add two generous dumplings to a large wide bowl of the reserved very hot chicken broth. Sprinkle with a little chopped fresh parsley when ready to serve. At the last minute add a dash of Maggi. And, as a special treat, indeed, if children are not being served, add a splash of Asbach Uralt brandy. Old European chefs always felt that any such special soup was not complete without that splash of the very best cognac, even if just a few teaspoons are added. Check the salt and pepper. Wait until just making individual servings to add the brandy. There’s no better way to “dress the soup” for the table, and you might just be amazed at the brandyflavour enhancer result.

    [Here’s a small reference I used in my “Sauces” folder in my cookbook manuscript: Chef Karl Adam (d) in Germany is acknowledged as contributing the recipes in an old Asbach Uralt wonderful small cookbook from the 1950’s, dedicated to using the cognac in cooking, and HeddaAdlon, in the same cookbook, last owner of the famous Hotel Adlon in Berlin’s ‘Unterden Linden,’ is credited with saying: “Three indispensable ingredients are needed for the creation of every good sauce, without any one of these the sauce will have neithersavour nor substance.” – – – And I concur completely, and add that this same comment applies to my wonderful homemade soups.]

    Serve the soup very hot, just off-boil with your favourite crusty bread, and let it cool to the temperature the eater enjoys. If you are reheating frozen dumplings let them thaw in the fridge overnight, in a covered glass container, and gently reheat them in the warmed chicken broth. Don’t rush the liver dumplings. (Note: You could serve the liver dumplings, reheated, sautéed in butter, and flambéed in Asbach Uralt brandy, as a wonderful side dish with wide homemade pasta noodles, or with plain Basmati buttered rice.) Drizzle the reheat butter over top.

    As to the soup, you will find the new flavourof the chicken broth just incredible. Very different likely than any other broth you have eaten. These dumplings are different but reminiscent of matzo balls. You will want to keep frozen ones on hand as a way to serve instant homemade spectacular homemade soup, using your frozen chicken broth. These dumplings also make a wonderful gift for guests to take home. Add a jar of your homemade chicken broth. The receiver’s wish list will ask for more real soon.

    Not unlike olives and anchovies, the enjoyment is an acquired taste, but once you fall in love with the flavour of Leberknoedel, you’ll call them a regular part of your gourmet dining pleasure. Believe me, you will.

    By the way, if you have anyone in hospital or otherwise infirm, this is a wonderful stomach-comforting food. They will appreciate the broth even if they cannot eat the dumplings. But the special dumplings can easily be broken into small pieces for people who have difficulty swallowing.

    For another use: the dumplings can be sliced at room temperature, to make a great take-along lunchbox or picnic fare. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and a slather of yourfavourite Dijon mustard, on your pick of great bread: rye bread or pumpernickel works.

    And if you are so inclined, cook a little Vermicelli noodles in the chicken broth at the last minute before serving, along with the liver dumplings.

    Next time I make it I might add a handful of fresh spinach leaves, just wilted in the broth.

    Believe me when I say this recipe that I developed through trial and error is a keeper. No question about it. The newer generation has never heard of it, much less enjoyed its very specialness. Well worth the effort to experiment in your own kitchen. You won’t be disappointed.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”

    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    ===
    And then, another unusual soup treat:

    Roasted Bell Pepper Soup (MixedColours: Red, Yellow, Orange, Green – easy on the Green Peppers)

    Marinate several chopped cleaned crispy, fresh, bell peppers, a small onion quartered or halved, a couple of pieces of whole garlic (mash it later), a half lemon cut in two pieces, in white balsamic vinegar and corn oil, ratio 1:3. Add fresh dried thyme, cracked pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for several hours, or overnight in the fridge.

    Roast marinated pepper mixture in very hot, melted butter, in a large, wide, heavy pot, on top of the stove. Toss occasionally until skins softly blacken. Bits will stick to the bottom of the pot. You want that for flavour, but you don’t want a burned pot. Watch carefully.

    Add 3 small potatoes after 15-20 minutes, and a ½ teaspoon salt. Add 1-2 cups of homemade chicken broth, depending on quantity of pepper mixture (just to cover).

    Simmer another 20 minutes. Remove from stovetop. Let sit until cool enough not to break blender glass.

    In blender, chop and puree; using rubber spatula to save every last drop, put into a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar or ¼ cup dark rich maple syrup. You could add a ¼ cup of your congealed AsbachUralt figgy jus from your black mission fig marinating jar.

    Puree in blender, ½ or whole seeded apple with skin on, depending on quantity of peppers you have roasted. Strain the apple sauce if skin does not break down. Add to pepper bowl and stir. Using spatula, scrape off the bottom of the strainer.

    (Save the skins mush and freeze; continue to save such things until you get a ½ cup, and when you make muffins, add the skins forfibre.) Nothing goes to waste in my kitchen.

    Heat half and half cream in same pot you roasted pepper mixture. How much cream you choose to use depends on how much peppers you have in play. Scald the cream and high heat simmer to thicken. When consistency coats a spoon, cream is ready. Turn off heat. Add the roasted bell pepper puree mixture and stir. Re-heat. Watch closely so cream mixture does not scorch. Definitely do not boil. The cream will separate.

    Absolutely delicious! Can be served at room temperature, hot, or cold for a summer soup.Serve with a tiny dollop of sour cream or yogurt and a large sprig of fresh basil.

    NOTE: I did not remove the seared roasted pepper skins. They are the “secret” to this dish. Once blended, you won’t see or taste the skins. But the flavour they impart to the soup is indescribable.

    ALTERNATIVE: You could add a half-cup of your favorite ale or dark beer just before serving. Or add a half cup of Asbach Uraltfiggy marinating jus for the final serving touch.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    ===

    A WHOLE N’OTHER SOUP:

    For making a “Roasted Tomato Soup,” follow the same recipe, but substitute roasted, charred, firm, fresh tomatoes that you have quartered, seeded and roasted till charred, skins on, either on the grill, or under the broiler in your stove. You can make Roasted Red Tomato Soup, Roasted Green Tomato Soup, or even Roasted White Tomato Soup. The roasting of the tomatoes, skins on, creates an almost smoky taste. Leave the skins on and proceed as with the roasted bell peppers.

    To serve in a gourmet treat style: Float three one-inch-size firm white button mushrooms, stuffed side up, roasted under the broiler or on the grill, and stuffed with a bit of chopped roasted tomato, a little minced in salt and lemon juice fresh garlic or oven-roasted garlic puree, a pinch of fresh thyme and or fresh basil, and fresh mint, homemade fresh coarse breadcrumbs (could even use those dried ends you saved from your black-olive bread), and topped with just a tiny bit of marinated creamy goat cheese; I use plain Celebrity label, marinated pucks. (See my recipe.)

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    === (See Part 3 to complete the Soup-er Supper segment…

Leave a Reply