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Gimme an Herb ...


Shel_B
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Next weekend is our annual soup party, a pot luck for some Sierra Club members at which a number of soups are brought to share. This is a time to bring perfected recipes, and something that's not been brought before. This year I've decided to make a curried butternut-apple soup.

Because of the varied tastes of the guests, the curry will be mild. Other ingredients will be butternut squash, sweet apples, leeks and onions, S&P, and some fresh apple juice (used for additional flavor and to adjust thickness).

I'd like to add an herb or two, but I'm not always very good at previewing flavors in my mind. I was thinking of adding sage, and rosemary has come up as a nice possibility as well. I've got plenty of rosemary.

So, what do you think of these choices, and what about some other possibilities? Thanks!

 ... Shel


 

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I would not add rosemary - it can overpower the more subtle flavors even when used sparingly.

Thyme would be a better choice and thyme "marries" especially well with apples.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Sage was my first thought too, and I agree with andiesenji that thyme would be better than rosemary. The only other herb I can think of that would work well is some really fruity marjoram. But I may be saying that only because I'm in love with marjoram.

Edited by Alcuin (log)

nunc est bibendum...

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I didn't intend to say omit the sage - a bit of sage, used judiciously, should be fine and it combines well with thyme.

If you are going to omit the sage, Herbs de Provence is also a possibility - this combination, which includes lavender, is particularly suited to soups or stews that include squash, leeks and onions - as well as the apples.

A good way to "measure" the amount of flavor is to stew the Herbs de Provence in a small amount of chicken stock to which you add a little white wine - which helps to extract the flavors.

Then, when your soup is about 3/4 cooked, add a little of the flavored stock, then add more if needed until it tastes the way you want. This will prevent the herb flavoring overpowering the other flavors.

This herb mixture is a "classic" addition to potato-leek soup.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I didn't intend to say omit the sage - a bit of sage, used judiciously, should be fine and it combines well with thyme.

If you are going to omit the sage, Herbs de Provence is also a possibility - this combination, which includes lavender, is particularly suited to soups or stews that include squash, leeks and onions - as well as the apples.

A good way to "measure" the amount of flavor is to stew the Herbs de Provence in a small amount of chicken stock to which you add a little white wine - which helps to extract the flavors.

Then, when your soup is about 3/4 cooked, add a little of the flavored stock, then add more if needed until it tastes the way you want. This will prevent the herb flavoring overpowering the other flavors.

This herb mixture is a "classic" addition to potato-leek soup.

Oops didn't mean to gum up the works: my mind said rosemary and my fingers said sage. Fixed.

nunc est bibendum...

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Not a herb but some sour tamarind paste can work wonders with sweet soups like butternut/carrot/pepper especially if there is also some heat from chilli/curry. Think a teaspoon per litre (with the paste I use)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I'm trying to get my head around sage in a curried soup. It will taste OK, I guess. Fried sage as a garnish on curried soup might be interesting. Thyme would marry better in a curried soup, IMO.

I suggest putting in veg or chicken stock instead of the apple juice. That will give you more depth of flavor in the soup.

Instead of the green herbs like sage or thyme, you could put in some lemongrass and a few slices of fresh gingerroot. The gingerroot is a little spicy, but not so spicy that it bothers people. Lemongrass tastes lemon-y and herbaceous.

The lemongrass has to be trimmed, peeled, smashed flat with a mallet or knife, then tied into a knot. Both the gingerroot slices and the lemongrass knot(s) should be removed before you puree the soup. Garnish each serving of soup with a little toasted coconut, or put out a bowl of toasted coconut for people to help themselves.

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I suggest putting in veg or chicken stock instead of the apple juice. That will give you more depth of flavor in the soup.

I forgot to mention the stock. I've always used a good, home made chicken stock in this soup, and then finished with the apple juice to adjust flavor and texture. I tried to do the ingredient list from memory ....

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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A good way to "measure" the amount of flavor is to stew the Herbs de Provence in a small amount of chicken stock to which you add a little white wine - which helps to extract the flavors.

Then, when your soup is about 3/4 cooked, add a little of the flavored stock, then add more if needed until it tastes the way you want. This will prevent the herb flavoring overpowering the other flavors.

This herb mixture is a "classic" addition to potato-leek soup.

Thanks for the suggestion!

 ... Shel


 

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I would recommend chervil. One might think it doesn't work, but it does, and it would give you a little "what's that?" factor as well

The perfect vichyssoise is served hot and made with equal parts of butter to potato.

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I'm in the no rosemary camp, too woody to eat uncooked on soup. And though I love sage, raw sage is very strong and musty-tasting. I do love it fried and crumbled on pasta, it could work if used sparingly on soup. Similarly, thyme cooked with the soup sounds delicious, uncooked thyme leaves no so much.

If you're going to sprinkle raw, chopped herbs on soup, I think it needs to be a soft-leaf variety. Parsley, chives, chervil, winter savory, possibly tarragon would work, depending on your taste preferences. Think about making an herb paste, with a bit of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, to spread on a toasted crouton and float on the soup. Pretty and a nice hit of flavor.


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Why not Coriander/Cilantro? It works well with the curry flavours, and I really like the combination with apple.

That was my first thought too! I also like it in combination with a couple others like mint and parsley. They work together really well and I love to mix a few together as it makes for a lively and fresh taste (thyme wouldn't be out of place either in that mix).

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I love cilantro, but a large number of people don't, so I don't serve it unless I'm sure everybody is OK with it. Some people complain that it tastes like soap.

I was curious and went googling. An article from the NY Times. I knew about the soap complaints, but not the bedbugs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html

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If you're going to sprinkle raw, chopped herbs on soup, I think it needs to be a soft-leaf variety. Parsley, chives, chervil, winter savory, possibly tarragon would work, depending on your taste preferences. Think about making an herb paste, with a bit of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, to spread on a toasted crouton and float on the soup. Pretty and a nice hit of flavor.

I was thinking of adding the herb during cooking, so whatever I use would not be raw.

 ... Shel


 

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I would recommend chervil. One might think it doesn't work, but it does, and it would give you a little "what's that?" factor as well

Hmmm ... interesting idea. Chervil is not an herb that comes to mind very often.

 ... Shel


 

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