To every season, there is a soup. And to every soup, there is a season.
By KIMBERLY WINTER STERN
Special to The Star
After the bumpy ride Mother Nature has served to Kansas City the past several months, you dont have to tell local cooks twice that fragrant, steaming soup and its close cousins stew and chili is indeed a one-pot wonder. A meal in a bowl.
Take Duane Daugherty, a Kansas City grilling fanatic, proprietor of Mr. Doggity Foods and a Kansas City Barbeque Society certified judge. Daugherty also happens to be a year-round soup connoisseur, often creating stocks out of bones and scraps left over from his kitchen forays. Chicken carcasses and bone-in chuck roasts undergo a second incarnation in Daughertys cuisine laboratory.
Rarely does a bone leave my house that isnt boiled and turned into stock, Daugherty says.
Where theres a homemade stock, theres usually a soup packed with flavor and depth not far behind. Daugherty, who posts his food escapades on Facebook, teased friends on a recent brisk Sunday afternoon with details of a from-scratch vegetable soup that began with an oxtail beef stock.
Can a house smell any better than this? Daugherty crowed on his page, referring to the co-mingled scents of simmering soup and hand-kneaded bread wafting throughout his Roeland Park home.
And whether slow-simmered on a stovetop, cooked in a slow cooker thats plugged in when a family heads out the door in the morning or thrown together at dinnertime, pair a bowl with a fresh-tossed salad, hunk of bread and glass of wine and dinner is ready.
Here Kansas City restaurant owners and chefs share favorite soup recipes that are sure to be winners in your kitchen even as winter melts into spring.
Sashas Baking Co.
Restaurant owners and chefs appreciate a hearty winter soups delicious simplicity. Sashas Baking Co., which opened last November in the Library Districts historic Cosby Hotel building at 105 W. Ninth, has created a buzz not only with the buttery, European-style treats that pastry chefs Carter Holton and Julie Steele whip up, but also for its French onion soup served in mini tureens.
Our creamy tomato basil soup is extremely popular, too, says Jeremy Schepmann, who along with his wife, Michelle, owns Sashas. We always have loaves of fresh bread on hand, made by Chris Glenn, so the bread-and-soup combo is a natural.
Steele, Michelles former nanny, attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and was instrumental in helping the Schepmanns develop Sashas concept. As the restaurants resident soup artist, Steele prepares Sashas two from-scratch soup offerings each morning.
Although Sashas has been on KCs dining scene for only a few months, the Schepmanns have acquired a following of soup aficionados. Regulars drop in for lunch and order bowls of the soup, along with sandwiches such as grilled pesto-and-cheese on focaccia and salads.
A former mechanical engineer who met Jeremy while he was working for Christopher Elbow at the original Glacé Artisan Ice Cream on Main Street, Michelle has an affinity for interior design. Sashas, on the lower floor of the once-dilapidated Cosby Hotel building a structure rescued from the wrecking ball by a group of investors was transformed into a chic two-room dining space.
Named after Jeremys mentor at the Grand Bakery in Oakland, Calif., Sashas walls are painted a cool gray-blue. The 50-seat, 2,000-square-foot space mimics the cozy ambiance reminiscent of a Paris café. An antique French sideboard that serves as the restaurants front counter adds to Sashas European character, along with wicker baskets piled with baguettes and a bakery case filled with glistening pastries, cookies and macarons.
As a nod to Mardi Gras season, Sashas has added a traditional gumbo to its menu that will be available through mid-March. Michelle looks forward to winters thaw for not just the promise of balmy temperatures, but also for warm-weather soups that Sashas will feature.
Its like switching out a wardrobe, she says. I like lighter soups in the spring and love chilled melon soups with pancetta in the summer.
Off the Country Club Plaza, executive chef Jennifer Maloney, who has been at the helm of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Arts Café Sebastienne for 18 years, dishes out the soup du jour on a recent sub-zero afternoon.
As servers deliver cups and dinner plate-size bowls of pork soup with hominy to the lunchtime crowd, Maloney pauses for a chat about her self-professed love affair with soup. Theyre extremely comforting, and our repertoire rotates with the rhythm of the seasons, Maloney says. Luckily the team here at Café Sebastienne likes soup as much as I do.
Maloney tends toward bisques and chunky soups. I had big bones and meat left from a pig we broke down for a special event a couple of days ago, so I came up with this soup, she says. Theres no garnish I tend to let soup speak for itself, without any embellishment.
The secrets to a good soup for Maloney are two ingredients not found in a pantry: heart and soul. Youve got to put your passion into it, she says. Tasting as you go is important, too.
When Maloney goes out for a bowl of soup, she heads for Le Fou Frog in the River Market and chef/owner Mano Rafaels French onion soup. Sometimes I get the mussels, too, but I really like the soup, she says.
Maloney and her crew segue into soups with a lighter flavor profile in the spring, and Memorial Day signals chilled soup season, including varieties such as three-colored gazpacho, melon and cucumber. But the rule is no chilled soups after Labor Day, Maloney jokes, paying culinary homage to the old adage that white clothing is stashed after that late-summer holiday.
Sometimes a soup recipe is a result of a happy accident, like a Portuguese sausage, spinach and chickpea Maloney concocted earlier this year. I mistakenly ordered linguiça smoke-cured pork sausage from my supplier, she says. So I put a mussel dish with tomatoes, saffron and the sausage on the menu. I combined leftover sausage with garbanzos and fresh spinach.
Maloney excuses herself and heads back to the kitchen. Soup doesnt have to be perfect, the chef insists. It just has to be good.
Café Provence executive chef Philip Quillec sits at a table in the quaint dining room of his familys celebrated restaurant at 3936 W. 69th Terrace in Prairie Village. His uncle, Daniel, and the rest of the staff are busy in the tiny kitchen, preparing for the days service. The affable 31-year-old chef is nursing the remnants of a cold and glances out the front window at the snow piled on the sidewalk from a recent winter storm.
Soup weather for sure, isnt it? says Quillec, whose repertoire includes seafood soups and, of course, the classic French onion.
Café Provence is known for serving progressive French Provençal cuisine with a modern twist, and dishes are often accented with Midwestern flair.
For example, sometimes I do a chowder-style seafood soup and add smoked trout or salmon, Quillec says. Just as France is about regional cuisines, I want to embrace our traditions here, and smoking meats and fish is certainly one of those.
Root vegetables play Quillecs winter muse when it comes to creating soups. I like to pair the earthiness of parsnips and celery root with sweeter things, such as apples, in a velouté, he says. I add a curry-roasted Marcona almond as a rustic garnish, which delivers additional flavor and a bit of texture.
Quillec, who did stints at several Michelin star restaurants in France last summer including LAuberge de La Charme in Dijon and Le Cilantro in Arles is energized by the turn of the seasons in Kansas City. Winter, spring, summer, fall, each season represents ingredients that speak to the calendar, he says. Right now, were preparing dishes that are definitely heartier in nature.
Achieving a satisfying soup at home is a snap if a cook starts with a good stock. Stock definitely enhances the final product, Quillec says. Let the ingredients shine dont overdo a recipe. And always add onion or garlic.
Quillecs family has opened the French Market around the corner from Café Provence in the Village shopping center. Run by Quillecs mother, Joanne, the shop is a Francophiles dream, carrying jams and chutneys, seasonings, table décor and linens and some of the restaurants signature items. And Quillec oversees the take-away portion of the operation where customers can get their soup fix.
The market sells a variety of the restaurants soups, as well as veal and chicken stock.
But does the French Market sell Café Provences pièce de résistance its beloved French onion soup? Of course, Quillec says. And we include everything: the broth, croutons and shredded Gruyere. Everything, that is, except a bottle of wine.
Youre on your own for that, he says. But I do recommend a glass of wine with the soup.
Sashas Baking Co. Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 8 servings
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
Handful of whole peppercorns
2 whole cloves
12 tablespoons olive oil
8 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 tablespoons dried basil
6 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled roma tomatoes
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 teaspoons sugar
2 pints heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
For the stock: Roughly chop vegetables and put in a heavy stockpot, along with peppercorns and cloves. Cover vegetables with cold water and simmer 4 to 8 hours. Strain entirely and discard vegetables.
To make the soup: In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté carrots and onions for about 10 minutes. Add basil and cook until veggies are soft. Add tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. Puree in a blender or with immersion blender after mixture has cooled somewhat. Stir in sugar and cream over low heat, then season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a swirl of basil oil or chiffonade of basil, a dollop of heavy cream and croutons.
Per serving: 813 calories (69 percent from fat), 66 grams total fat (30 grams saturated), 163 milligrams cholesterol, 57 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein, 1,381 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.
Sashas Baking Co. Country Dijon Sausage and Lentil Soup
Makes 4 main-course servings
3/4 pound smoked kielbasa, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups French green lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
4 cups chicken broth
Brown sausage in a cast-iron skillet. Drain and set aside.
In a stockpot, bring lentils, water and bay leaf to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are almost tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add salt. While lentils simmer, sauté onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper in 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a heavy skillet until vegetables are just soft. Whisk together vinegar, remaining oil and Dijon mustard. Drain lentils. Add back to a heavy stockpot with chicken stock, lentils and Dijon mixture. Add sausage and heat through, stirring occasionally.
Per serving: 637 calories (51 percent from fat), 40 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 30 milligrams cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 2,148 milligrams sodium, 17 grams dietary fiber.
Café Sebastiennes Portuguese Sausage Soup
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped celery
1 red pepper, diced
1 (16-ounce) can chopped canned tomatoes (or fresh if in season)
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, washed and drained
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 pounds linguiça smoke-cured pork sausage (if not available, substitute 2 pounds of smoked chorizo), sliced
1 pinch bloomed saffron threads (add threads to 1/4 cup hot water and wait until the water turns yellow)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
3 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup Spanish sherry
In a stockpot, heat olive oil and saute onion, celery, pepper, tomatoes and chickpeas until soft. Add garlic and sausage and cook until garlic is soft. Add bloomed saffron, cumin, oregano and beef broth and simmer for about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach and Spanish sherry.
Per serving: 970 calories (69 percent from fat), 73 grams total fat (24 grams saturated), 103 milligrams cholesterol, 45 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 1,650 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber.
Café Provences Parsnip, Celery and Apple Velouté
Makes 6 to 8 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 pinch celery salt
1 pound parsnips, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, seeded and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt, to taste
Optional garnish: Micro celery and Curry Roasted Marcona Almonds (see note)
In a pot, melt butter over medium heat; cook onion, ginger and celery salt, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in parsnips, celery and apples; cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
Add chicken broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream and cook another 10 minutes. Season accordingly with salt. Let cool for 10 minutes. In batches in blender, purée soup until smooth; keep warm. To serve, garnish with celery and almonds.
Note: Homemade chicken stock, micro celery and Curry Roasted Marcona Almonds are available at Cafe Provences French Market.
Per serving, based on 6: 176 calories (41 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 24 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 87 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber.
Kimberly Winter Stern is a freelance food writer and a weekly contributor to Chow Town, The Stars food blog.