“Nothing exists without its opposite.”
Pub Grub gets a Makeover
During a recent visit to my beloved St. Lawrence Market we popped into another institution just down the street for a quick lunch. It’s jazzy, it’s funky, it’s underground, what’s not to love! I won’t name it however because I’m about to trash their soup presentation.
I had a version of the soup I made for you here, but with a few exceptions. Ones that I obviously thought I could improve upon. What I’ve added take very little extra time and are well worth the effort.
What I was served was a big bowl of creamy orange-brown (please don’t use orange cheese, I beg of you) thick soup with a side of what they called naan, but I would have called Greek pita. You know the stuff… it’s thick and doughy and a teensy bit flavourless. Not the sort of pita that you can make a sandwich in, but great for dipping in stuff. Except that it did NOT stand up to this meal-in-a-bowl soup.
I also have a strong opposition to monochromatic foods. Don’t even get me started on texture! I need something for my eyes as well as my palate to consider. I enjoyed the soup, it just didn’t sing to my soul as it could have. So predictably it was to the kitchen for me! Not the kitchen in the restaurant, just to be clear, that would be a bit pushy! To my kitchen is where I was headed!
It would be very easy to simply boil the potatoes in broth before pureeing, but take the extra few minutes to brown them a bit in the goodness left over from frying the bacon and onions. Flavour layering is so simple and has such impact.
Pretty simple so far… fry up some bacon, remove to a paper towel. In some of the rendered fat, toss in the onion and once they’re a gorgeous deep golden brown, remove to another paper towel. I also take a few pieces of cubed potato out at this point to fry up separately and use as garnish later. Then on to the soup itself.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, I highly recommend buying one. The whole process of transferring hot soup to a food processor or blender is a perilous one at best and waiting for it to cool rarely happens, at least around here. Immersion blenders are inexpensive, small and super easy to clean up!
The pureeing is obviously important to attain that silken finish BUT it’s the contrast of the garnish that gives this soup wings!
Menu Suggestion: I have two suggestions for you today, one that appeals to my desire for colour and variety, and the other as it gives a real pub sort of feel to the overall presentation. Catalan Style Toast with Garlic Confit OR Perfect Popovers
(Not wine but rather) Beer Pairing: What I love about this recommendation from GK today is that it goes right along with my desire for contrast! “If I close my eyes and try to imagine a wine, all I get is the silky potato making the wine feel thin and astringent. This says Chimay or another Belgian-style beer with some sweetness.”
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 4 slices bacon, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium onion, sliced (if using for garnish)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups white potatoes, diced (about 10 medium)
- Thyme - 5-6 sprigs if using fresh, 1 tsp if using dry
- Black pepper (I omit the salt until I have tasted it AFTER the cheese goes in - it may not be necessary)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
- Cook bacon in a large, deep pot, until golden brown and fully rendered of its fat.
- Remove and drain.
- In the remaining fat cook onions and garlic, stirring constantly for 1 few minutes before adding the diced potatoes.
- Stir scraping bottom of pan to get up all of those yummy bacon crumbs stuck to the bottom.
- Season with pepper and thyme, stirring to coat
- Add broth and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are fork tender
- Puree with immersion blender or very carefully in your food processor.
- Add cheddar gradually stirring over low heat to melt the cheese.
- Garnish with crumbled bacon and caramelized onions