Snow, record cold, wind chills — sounds like the perfect recipe for National Soup Month. Just ask Olga Sorzano.
“I’m from Russia, and we had soup at pretty much every meal,” described the chef and owner of LOST Gourmet in Downingtown.
In her native Siberia, “the soups are more substantial, like a stew,” she said. “It’s cold, and a lot of people have very physical jobs.”
“My very favorite Russian soup is borscht,” added Sorzano, who focuses on local, organic, sustainable and traditional food — hence the acronym “LOST.” When cooler temperatures arrive, customers request more soup.
Homemade soup has “healing and nourishing properties,” she said. “The Jewish saying that chicken soup is like penicillin: People think you can grab a can, and it’s the same thing. It’s not the same thing.”
Amy McAtee of Honey in Doylestown also believes in the power of soup.
“There’s something very full and satisfying about a homemade soup,” she insisted. “‘It warms my soul,’ I always say.”
Her husband, Joe, is the restaurant’s head chef.
“Joe is a soup man. He makes amazing soups. People go crazy for his soups,” McAtee said. “He doesn’t cook from recipes. He cooks with a lot of love. You just really taste the layers of time and effort he puts into the soup.”
Soon fans may be able to order his soups for takeout too. A recent favorite: cream of sunchoke.
“It was made from sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes,” McAtee said. “The texture of it was just so silky and velvety. It was just the right balance of salty and nutty.”
“Before we opened Honey restaurant, we were going to do an online soup company,” she revealed. “We definitely have a passion for soup.”
So does Jason Belkov, executive chef of 1906 at Longwood Gardens. He serves four soups daily.
“We’ll go through 100 gallons of soup on a busy day,” Belkov said. “I like that it’s the perfect start of a meal.”
His mushroom soup boasts a loyal following.
“People come back for it. It’s very popular,” he acknowledged. “We get repeat customers who’ve been coming back for years.”
So what’s his secret?
“We use a lot of different kinds of mushrooms to enrich the flavor. A lot of time goes into making the stock,” explained Belkov.
At Montesano Bros. Italian Market and Catering in Eagle and Bucktown, “The first thing most people ask is, ‘What are your soups for today?’” said Michael Montesano. “The two most popular here are the escarole and pasta e fagioli or pasta ‘fazool.’”
He enjoys chowders like clam or sweet corn and crab. Other big sellers include mushroom bisque and ginger carrot.
“We usually run two soups a day, and we always have it in the refrigerator and freezer to take home,” Montesano said.
Back at LOST Gourmet, the importance of National Soup Month isn’t lost on Olga Sorzano.
“Soup doesn’t have to be complicated ... just warm and satisfying,” she stressed.
Longwood Gardens Mushroom Soup
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, washed and diced
2 shallots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
¼ cup chopped thyme
1 cup shitake mushroom caps, julienned
1 cup crimini mushroom caps, quartered
1 cup button mushrooms, julienned
½ cup sherry wine
2 quarts hot mushroom stock (see below)
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the leek, shallot and celery in the oil and butter until leeks are translucent. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Add chopped mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms wilt and release their liquid. Add sherry wine and reduce by half. Add hot mushroom stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add cream and tarragon. Let simmer for five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
16 ounces white button mushrooms, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 sprig tarragon
1 sprig thyme
1½ gallons water
Place ingredients in a tall saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour. Strain. Refrigerate leftovers.
(Recipe courtesy of Longwood Gardens)
1½ pounds beef spare ribs
1 or 2 parsley roots, scrubbed
3 bay leaves
1 large potato, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
vegetable oil as needed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, grated
2 medium beets, grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt, pepper to taste
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
In a large pot, place the spare ribs, parsley roots, bay leaves and peppercorns and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the meat is tender, about 1½ to 2 hours, skimming the surface as necessary. When the meat is tender, remove the bones and strip off the meat into bite size pieces. Carefully strain the broth through cheesecloth. Discard the parsley root, bay leaves and peppercorns.
Return the meat to the broth. Bring to boil. Add cubed potatoes and cook until al dente. Add green cabbage and simmer for another 3 minutes.
In a medium pan, heat the vegetable oil. Add chopped onion and grated carrots. Sauté until vegetables are soft and slightly caramelized, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to the soup pot.
Add more oil to the same pan and sauté grated beets for 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze with red wine vinegar. Place the beets in the soup pot. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped dill and parsley. Serve hot with sour cream and rye bread. Yields: 6 to 8 servings
(Recipe courtesy of LOST Gourmet)
“I think the secret of a good soup is a really good broth, a really good bone broth,” said Olga Sorzano of LOST Gourmet. “Making bone broth is extremely, extremely easy.”
She shared her recipe for healing chicken broth.
“I like to simmer my stock overnight,” Sorzano explained. “The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more nourishing it will be.”
An optional addition: chicken feet.
“Some people might feel uncomfortable using chicken feet, however they are very nourishing and add a great deal of gelatin to the finished product,” she noted.
Apple cider vinegar provides another nutritional boost.
“Adding apple cider vinegar helps to draw out the nutrients, especially calcium, from the chicken bones,” Sorzano described.
Healing Chicken Broth
1 whole free-range chicken or 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings
4 chicken feet, optional
1 gallon cold filtered water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Place all the ingredients in a large stainless steel pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and remove froth that rises to the top. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. If cooking for longer than 4 hours, occasionally check the stock and add additional water, if necessary.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and solidifies. Gently remove the fat with a spoon. Store stock in a glass container for up to a week. Stocks may be stored in the freezer for several months.
(Recipe courtesy of LOST Gourmet, adapted from Nourishing Traditions)