Check-in Weight: 144.8
As I reflect on my failed attempt to
defile myself adhere to The Eat Your Heart Out Diet, I find myself in turn inspired and repulsed (perhaps, inspired by repulsion) by the vaguely suggested daily menu menu. The most frightening day of all is the last day. Had I not been wooed by a woman bearing tawny port and roasted Gorgonzola crackers, I’d have been sipping on this pot of natural laxative today. Bless the gods of fortified wine and snack foods, I have been spared the Miracle Soup. I’m going to steal create a more palatable version of it after the jump.
Before I cackle malignly and pull out my stock pot, I want to learn what is going into this ‘miracle soup’ and what I can do to fix it. So, let us examine the constituents:
2-3 Large Onions
1 Head Cabbage
1 Green Pepper
5-6 Celery Stalks
2 Large Cans Diced Tomatoes (28oz each, I assume)
2 Packages Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix
4-6 c Water
The onion, celery and green pepper should be no stranger to cooks of the Creole Persuasion – dat right dere’s de Holy Trinity. It is the southern answer to the French mirepoix – and we will treat it as such, in appropriate proportion: brunoise (without blanching), by weight, in a ratio of 2:1:1 (2 oz onion for every 1 oz pepper and 1 oz celery ). If I could add a dark roux and some shrimp stock, the tomatoes and Holy Trinity would made a fine base for gumbo. But we ain’t making no gumbo.
Before I examine the nutrition data, the cabbage bothers me in this soup simply because I prefer it raw. I love it as a wrapper for a hash of diced chicken, water chestnuts, mushrooms and Chinese five-spice powder. I adore it sliced fine and sprinkled on a hearty bowl of pozole or to garnish a shrimp taco. If it shares a Dutch Oven with a haunch of corned beef around mid-March, I will tuck into cooked cabbage without complaint. Other than that, forget it. Cabbage will be making an appearance only as a raw condiment, to add an element of crunch and texture to the soup.
I have no words for the Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix. It is fake flavor and a shitload of sodium turned into a powder, for people who do not know what to do with real herbs and spices. It is fine for one day, one pot of soup, for a person who does not stock their kitchen with basic seasonings. I have no such excuses to use it, so I won’t. I can do better with enough meat stock to replace the water and a goodly amount of dried herbs.
Meat Stock. If you want to make your own, you could do worse than the Rich Chicken Stock recipe in Tartine Bread. Stock is simple. Simmer animal bones in water with onion, garlic, celery, onion a pinch of salt – maybe a bouquet garni if you feel fancy-schmancy. Skim the scum that forms at the top; other than that, let it go until the water looks nice and meat-infused.
The ‘Miracle Soup’ is close enough to pozole that I will simply make pozole (Michoacán variation) featuring the Holy Trinity, without the meat and with a can of diced tomato to go with my ancho chile:
10 oz Chopped Onion
5 oz Chopped Celery
5 oz Chopped Green Pepper
1 14.5oz Can Diced Tomato
2 t Ground Cumin
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1.5 Quarts Chicken Stock or Broth
Salt to taste (less than 2 t)
3-5 Ancho Chiles, stems and seeds removed and pureed with hot stock or broth
8 oz Shredded Cabbage (required)
Lime Juice (optional)
Radish, thinly sliced (optional)
A solid recipe for traditional pozole can be found here (http://www.whats4eats.com/soups/pozole-recipe). I will probably make a test batch of Miracle Soup (Refined) over my staycation. I’ll make the chicken stock from scratch, so I can shred the cooked chicken and toss it in with some hominy for my family; meanwhile, I will reserve a bit of the meatless brew for taste-testing. Stay tuned.