Okay, so it was Ben’s birthday yesterday, and we went to Daniel for a 3 course dinner to die for. For appetizers, he had mosaic of capon, foie gras, celery root with pickled daikon, mâche and pear confit. I had Maine peekytoe crab salad with celery, walnut oil and Granny Smith sauce. For main, him: Pan seared Millbrook venison loin with barley ragoût, Okinawan sweet potato, roasted foie gras and pickled quince. Me: Roasted squab breast with turnips and clementines and crispy legs, Swiss chard and Kaffir lime-carrot coulis. Dessert, honey crisp apple confit and warm Guanaja chocolate coulant. Everything was super refined and textured and every bite was some explosions of new taste sensations. And of course there were pre- and post-meal extras like amuse-bouche of sweet potatoes and mini Madeleines and petits fours, and glasses of wine. Service was amazingly efficient and friendly, everyone trying to make sure that you have a good time, etc, etc.
Of course, we enjoyed it immensely until I got sick right in the restaurant. My cursed stomach was overwhelmed by too much richness and refinement and decided to rebel. So up came everything in the hushed plush restroom stall. I thanked a restroom deity for the completely sealed private stall. In the end, I paid for it for upset stomach all day today with no eating. I guess that you always pay for your sins (gluttony is one of them, right?) By dinner time, I was hungry, but craving something hot and soothing. Rummaging the vegetable crisper drawers, I took out everything I had: zucchinis, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, quarter of a red cabbage, radicchio, fennel, Swiss chard stalks (left over from the torte)…Hmm, vegetable soup, obviously was the answer. So I took out a big pot (biggest one I got), and here’s the recipe. Additional ingredients needed: 28 oz. can of whole or diced tomato, tomato paste, and a can of beans of your choice. And staples like onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Chop 1 head of onion and 5 garlic cloves. Brown them in olive oil and add a heaping spoonful of tomato paste and continue to cook it until everything is evenly coated with tomato paste.
- Put about 1/4 of all the chopped vegetables that are going to be used in the pot and continue sautéing. Season with salt and pepper. I put some vegetables early on to increase the soup flavor and some later for crispier texture.
- Make bouquet garnis of fennel stalks, Swiss chard stalks, parsley, thyme, bay leaves. Add to the pot.
- Add the can of chopped tomato or whole tomato chopped by you.
- Add my secret ingredient: parmesan cheese rinds. I save the rinds left at the end of grating cheese in the freezer and add little pieces when I make soup. Greatly increases complexity of the broth.
- Put water to cover slightly more than half the pot. Bring it to boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes to develop flavor.
- Add the rest of the vegetables (I like half inch cubes in my soup) and a can of garbanzo beans (or cannelloni beans or your favorite any beans, but rinse and drain beforehand).
- Simmer until all the veggies are cooked. Add more salt and pepper.
It is nice to mince some fresh parsley and fennel fronds and add them to the soup bowl as a finishing touch. Ben likes his with a little bit of grated parmesan cheese and toasted cheesy bread. The broth really settled my stomach so I can eat again!