Monday 5 January 2015

The Most Amazing Soup Recipe Ever! (So Good You Will Want to Eat Its Rotting Remains)

It is fucking cold out there so let's talk soup!

I'm a sucker for soup.  It is my ultimate comfort food and pretty much the only thing that makes Winter even remotely bearable.  Every once in a Winter I host a Soupfest where we all bring our favourite soup to sample and I make a ton of home made bread to go with it.  At the end we take home the leftovers.  It is not a competition and there is no prize for "Best Soup" but a winner is generally decided (usually unanimously) by which leftovers get fought over the most.  It is a highly prestigious honour.

And this year the prestige was mine!

I take this seriously because picking a favourite at the Soupfest is no simple task.  I only invite those whose culinary skills I deem worthy of my all-time favourite comfort food.  My people cook to impress.

Some of my guests were unable to make it so this year's menu had just three soups: my brother's Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup, Mummy Dearest's Tom Yum Gai, and my Roasted Garlic and Brie.

A first sign that my soup was becoming the favourite was the fact that everybody had a second helping.  Usually there is so much soup available you have to be smart and have only a small portion of each kind of soup.  After we were all too full to eat anymore the jokes started.  My family's favourite way to compliment your cooking is to pretend to steal it, fight over it or otherwise make threats of physical violence to anyone who dares get between them and your food creation.

My mother won the joke fight by insisting she help portion out the leftovers to the guests and then keeping all of my Garlic and Brie soup for herself.

A few weeks later at Christmas dinner my mother begged me to give her a copy of the recipe for her boss.  I thought this was going to turn into a typical story of my mother bragging about her kids (as Moms do) and her boss making a vague but polite remark like "That sounds lovely, I'll have to try it sometime."

I was wrong.

I will now tell the story to you as she told it to me:

"So I stole all the leftovers of your soup - 

(Me: I figured as much)

 - and it was wonderful!  Oh my God!  I heated some up and poured it over fried mushrooms.  Amazing!  I was saving the rest to pour over some pork chops but there was no room in my fridge - 

(My mother is a self-admitted food hoarder)

- so I put it out on my balcony.  Well last week I decided to clean out my balcony because there was so much stuff out there and I came across this pot.  I had forgotten I put it out there and I opened the lid to see what it was and it was nothing but fur.  There was hair growing in it all the way up to the lid.  And I knew what it was right away not because I remembered putting it out there, but because of the smell.

It smelled delicious.  Absolutely delicious.  Maybe even better than before!  I'm not kidding.  For one very short moment I even considered eating it.  What if this was some new kind of food?  People eat all kinds of mouldy, fermented stuff...

(At this point my mother goes off on a tangent, rhapsodizing about stinky cheese)

...anyway I was telling my boss about this and now she wants the recipe.  She figures it must be the world's best soup if I was tempted to eat it in that state."

With a story like that how could I not share this recipe?  So here it is, a soup so good my mother has a Homer Simpson-esque relationship with it.

Roasted Garlic and Brie Soup

4-5 large heads of garlic
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 cup butter
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 pound brie
1/2 cup cream
bouquet garni of thyme
salt and pepper 
lemon wedges
olive oil

Bake 4 heads of garlic by cutting off the tops, drizzling with olive oil and wrapping in foil (about an hour at 350).  In the meantime caramelize the onions in butter.  Add about 6-8 large cloves of garlic, finely minced, near the end.  Once everything is golden brown deglaze your pan with the white wine and then add the stock, bouquet garni, salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour.

While the soup is simmering squeeze the roasted garlic out of their paper and into a blender.  Add some of the soup stock (being careful with the hot liquid!) and puree.  Add the puree back into the soup and let simmer a little longer.  When done remove the bouquet garni and puree in batches.  Once all the soup is pureed return to the pot and add the brie in chunks, stirring until all is melted.  Then remove from heat and stir in your cream.

Now if you taste the soup right now you will think, "This is perfect just the way it is.  I am not going to mess with such perfection by adding what is clearly an unnecessary lemon."

Go ahead and add that lemon anyway.  Trust.  Just a squeeze on top is all you'll need.

This is a soup that I originally intended to make with parmesan but I found a wheel of brie on sale for cheaper than parmesan so I went with that.  I don't know if the brie is an integral component of the strange fermentation process that resulted in my mother's furry balcony cheese but I'm sure the non-rotting version will still be pretty tasty if substituting parmesan.

This is a very rich and filling soup and will make a good meal just by itself, but is also pretty versatile as a sauce for fried mushrooms or pork chops.  Personally I might just make this again to see if I can recreate that mouth-watering penicillin, send it in to a lab and patent my new insane delicacy.  It can't possibly be any worse than Casu marzu.

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