Friday, March 19, 2010

Pride of Erin Soup - Celebrating St. Patty's Day

Hope everyone had a fun-filled St. Patty's Day. I had a wonderful night catching up with some of my awesome friends who came over to help me "celebrate" with making Pride of Erin soup. Although the soup wasn't green, it brought some Irish culture to my tiny kitchen :). It's interesting when you type in "Irish Soup" into a search engine. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect - Are their soups usually pureed or chunky? What's the staple ingredient? These were the few questions that I had when I went scouring the internet for a recipe to use. I went to Epicurious (if you don't have an account, I highly recommend one) and found the winner - Pride of Erin. My friends and I decided on Pride of Erin because it was simple and the name made it sound festive. In case you were wondering, the staple ingredients I found were cabbage, potatoes, leeks and sometimes bacon.

Here's the recipe from Bon Appetit magazine on Epicurious:

1 1-pound cabbage, cored, quartered (which means to get rid of the middle and cut into fours)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated peeled russet potato (about half a large potato)
1/2 teaspoon ground mace (fancy word for nutmeg)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (we didn't add this but I bet it adds more flavor)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (same comment)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (This is gave the soup a lot of flavor so I suggest more than 2 tbsp).

Directions (with some changes from me)
Place cabbage in large bowl. Pour enough boiling water over to cover. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain well. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut cabbage into thin shreds.
Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add onion; sauté until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage and potato, stir 5 minutes. Stir in mace (aka nutmet). Add flour, stir 2 minutes. Gradually mix in milk and broth. Bring mixture to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. Return soup to same saucepan. Season with salt and pepper.
Optional: Bring soup back to a simmer (but mine stayed hot so I skipped this part).
Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle generously with parsley, chives and Parmesan and enjoy.

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How we felt about the soup:
Bland. It lacked flavor! The only flavor it got came from the salt and pepper, cheese and other add-ons at the end. I would change this recipe up by adding something like bacon in the skillet with the onions before adding the soup. Another suggestion I read online was to use more chicken broth than milk. I really think the milk takes away all the flavors of the soup. Also, cabbage is not that flavorful. In fact, it has a bad stench (open your windows when you make this soup) and the only benefit that comes from eating more cabbage is your fiber :). I would recommend adding more flavorful ingredients such as corn pieces or meat to spice things up in this soup. If you go with the recipe as it is, you might leave your taste buds disappointed.

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