Thursday, April 7, 2011

Soup For the Sickies....

Good morning everyone.  Today, I am getting straight to the food.  I have two sick little kids.  It seems to just be bad colds, but we have to go to the doctor’s office in a bit to check for pink eye.  TMI?  Sorry.  And I am sure everyone that we came in contact with in the last couple of days is having a mild panic attack right now…..
Yesterday, when they both looked miserable, I decided that they needed a big, steaming bowl of soup.  I am a soup fan, sort of.  I really only like cream soups.  Well, really I like anything that has cream in it, but especially cream based soups.  My inner fatty-pants stays away from broth based soups;) 
I wanted to create a new recipe for soup, but I still wanted it to be easy.  Soups are usually pretty easy to make anyway…..I made cream of artichoke soup.  Specifically, I used the hearts of the artichoke.  I didn’t boil whole artichokes and peel my way to the heart.  I opened some cans.  I will show you how I made it.
I used 3 cans of artichoke hearts packed in water.  I didn’t use the marinated kind.  I wanted to flavor the soup myself.  If you can only find the marinated variety, that will work.  Just rinse them off first.
I also used chicken broth, onion, garlic, pancetta, a potato and heavy cream.  The potato is strictly just to thicken the soup.  It doesn’t add much in the way of flavor.  You can also use fat free evaporated milk if you don’t want to use heavy cream.  But who could possibly be that weird?;)
What I am doing above, you ask?  Tucking my artichoke hearts in for the night?  No.  After I drained the water off of them, I dried them off between 2 clean kitchen towels.  I really want these guys to brown in the pan, and they need to be super dry for that to happen.  That should be your first step……
To get the soup started, I browned diced pancetta in a large pot.  I did add a bit of olive oil to the pot to help the pancetta get started.  Pancetta is like bacon, but it isn’t smoked.  I wanted this soup to have a bacon-esque flavor, but I thought that adding a smoky flavor would be overwhelming.  Hence, the pancetta.  You can find it in your grocery store pretty easily.  It is usually by the deli as opposed to where the bacon and sausage is found.
Once the pancetta was browned, I removed it from the pan.  I set it on paper towels to drain.  I left the rendered fat in the pot.  I added the chopped onion, chopped garlic and artichoke hearts to the fat in the pot.  Like I said above, I really wanted the hearts to brown.  Brown equals more flavor.  I sautéed the onions and hearts for about 5 minutes over medium high heat.
You will need a really large pot for this step.  If the veggies are crowded in the pot, they will steam instead of brown.  If necessary, you can brown the veggies in batches.
Once the onions and hearts are slightly browned, I added the potato that had been peeled and chopped.  Then, I added the broth.  I also added salt and pepper to taste.  This soup can take a lot of salt…..Once the soup came to a boil, I put the lid on and simmered it until the potato was cooked through….about 20 minutes.  The combination of garlic and onions will make your house smell amazing!
While the soup was simmering, I sliced a baguette to put on top of the soup.  I rubbed the slices with the cut side of a garlic clove.  This will give the slices a slight garlic taste, but it won’t be like full-on garlic bread.  Just a slight taste, people.
I also drizzled the slices with a teeny-tiny bit of olive oil.  I put them under the broiler for a couple of minutes, just to get brown.
Once the potato was tender, I put the soup in the blender to puree.  Since the untimely death of my immersion blender, I have been forced to puree the old fashioned way;)  I blended in batches, and I held a towel over the top of the blender in case the heat from the soup caused the lid to blow off.  It didn’t, but you can’t be too careful, right?
Once the soup was blended, I poured it back into the pot and added the cream.  I let the soup come back up to temperature, and that was pretty much it.  Soup was done;)
I topped the soup with the toasted bread and reserved pancetta.  It was delicious!  If you like artichoke hearts, this is the soup for you.  They come together with the garlic, onion, and potato to make a really yummy and satisfying soup.   I don’t know if it made the girls feel better…..but it sure made me feel better about the prospect of taking care of sickies for a few days……
Cream of Artichoke Soup
3 14 ounce cans artichoke hearts, quartered and water packed
32 ounces chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Drain artichoke hearts and pat dry with a clean towel.  Set aside.
Brown diced pancetta, over medium high heat, in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, in a large pot.  This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove pancetta from pot and drain on paper towel.  Set aside.
In rendered pancetta fat sauté, over medium high heat, onion, garlic and artichoke hearts for about 5 to 7 minutes.  Once the vegetables are slightly brown, add salt and pepper to taste.  Add potato and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and cover.  Cook soup for about 20 minutes, or until potato is tender.
Puree soup in blender, in batches, until desired consistency is reached.  Pour back into pot and add cream.  Heat through.
Top with pancetta bits and toasted bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment