Hosting a Soup Party
A unique idea for a get-together + recipes
With the days growing shorter and cooler, it’s that time of year for my favorite meal...SOUP! I have the fondest memories of my “Nanny Pearl” and “Nanny Edilia” cooking big pots of their famous soup! Pearl’s secret recipe in her soup was diced pieces of “flanken” (otherwise today known as short ribs), and we couldn’t get enough of it! Edilia’s secret recipe was the topping of the avocado crème fraiche and a generous bunch of fresh cilantro. Wouldn’t it be fun to make a party of this?
Why not host a casual gathering or a “Soup Open House?" I like to make 3-4 soups which can be made in advance and kept simmering on the stove all day as friends drop in. I make a simple platter with a couple types of great crusty bread, a few robust cheeses, and some crisp fall apples. Adding some fun soup toppings such as roasted corn, parmesan croutons, frizzled onions, or crispy bacon for color and crunch that make it all that much better. Pair that with your favorite Pinot Noir or Shiraz, or even a handful of beers & ales, and you have the perfect fall party.
I like to keep it simple by mixing and matching my bowls and spoons, and by keeping everything accessible on the countertop. If you don’t think you’ll have enough serving pieces for the party, consider using eco-friendly bamboo bowls and plates. Don’t worry about everyone sitting down; this type of party encourages standing around the kitchen, or even hanging out in the yard while the kids play football.
Invite your friends and family over for what would probably be one of the easiest parties you’ll throw!
Pearl’s Mushroom Barley
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- ¼ cup chopped shallots
- 1½ cups assorted mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 6 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¾ cup pearl barley
- 2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Kosher salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste, shallots, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, thyme, and ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add chicken stock, white wine and barley. Simmer, partially covered, until the barley is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Puree about 1 cup of the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot, and garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley before serving.
Edilia’s Cuban Black Bean
- 8 slices bacon, chopped
- 2 cups onions, sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 lime
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1 cup crème fraiche
- 1 avocado
- 1 Tbs. chili powder
- 2 Tbs. cumin
- 4 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup canned pureed tomatoes
- 6 garlic cloves, diced
Preheat oven to 375. Arrange corn kernels on a sheet pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, and cumin. Roast for 12-15 minutes or until corn has begun to lightly brown. Remove and set aside.
Peel and dice avocado, and add to a blender with crème fraiche with a squeeze of lime juice. Process until smooth, store in the refrigerator in a bowl covered with plastic wrap until ready to use.
Place the bacon into a large heavy pot over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes, add onions, stirring until they begin to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, and turn heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add juice from ½ lime and chopped cilantro. Soup can either be eaten as is, or pureed with an immersion hand blender. Garnish with a dollop of avocado crème fraiche and a sprinkling of roasted corn & fresh cilantro before serving.
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