Saturday, February 5, 2011

Artichoke Soup

 Wonderful Wyoming weather can inspire one to do many things. For example, hiking into the deep dark wilderness that is and always has been, void of human habitation. Maybe, Climbing Wind River Peek or even better, scaling the Tetons and calling home on your cell phone. The Wyoming winters also inspire many activities such as ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and for some ice skating. Lately with the temps outside dipping to 30 to 20 degrees BELOW zero, I’m only inspired to do one thing, Make soup.

I’ve know dozen upon dozen of people locally and all over the states that do these activities week to week. Personally, I love winter photography. I love to stroll around un-noticed shooting picture after picture. Of course, while walking around town and there neighborhoods in the dead of winter inspires me to crave something hot like soup, or in my children’s case, a cup of hot Atole.

All soups starts with a basic stock. I live by the golden rule of “If your Stock is good, your soup will be great.” So firstly let’s start with a Chicken stock. The following recipe is from one of my cookbooks by Charlie trotter.

Because I love Mister Trotters cook books sooooooo much here are a few of them:
Charlie Trotter'sLessons in Excellence from Charlie TrotterCharlie Trotter's Meat and GameHome Cooking with Charlie Trotter (Gourmet Cook Book Club Selection)Charlie Trotter's SeafoodCharlie Trotter Cooks at Home

Chicken stock
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours and 45 minutes
Yield: 2 quarts

6 pounds chicken bones
3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped leeks
1 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot and cover three-fourths of the way with cold water (about 2 gallons).

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and slowly simmer for 4 hours, skimming every 30 minutes to remove the impurities that rise to the surface.

Strain and continue to cook over medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes or until reduced down to about 2 quarts.

For many years I made my soup stocks with bouillon chicken base. It was fast and easy. But it lacked depth in flavor. After learning how to make stocks and perfecting them over time, also accompanied by finding good recipes, like Charlie trotters, my soups and sauces started to become more flavorful and more complex in flavor.

Artichoke Soup

8 large globe artichokes
2 quarts Chicken stock (see above)
1 bunch parsley stems
⅓ cup olive oil
4 stems fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 chili pepper
1 bunch mint
1 bunch parsley, blanched

Trim artichokes; remove leaves until you reach hearts. Remove thistles and place hearts in large stockpot. Over medium-low heat, stew hearts with 1 quart stock, parsley stems, olive oil, thyme, bay leaf and chili pepper about 45 minutes or until tender. Strain through fine mesh sieve and discard parsley stems, thyme, bay leaf and chili pepper. Purée hearts with mint and blanched parsley until smooth. Adjust consistency with remaining stock.

Serve Hot!

After a while of thinking about soup and stock recipes that would be easy to recreate in your own kitchen on many levels, I had finally decided with the above. Truthfully, there really isn’t a short road to making a good soup if you doing it from scratch. Stocks take time to make. End result will always be delicious and flavorful.


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