soup, cropped

It’s the Fourth of July weekend, and that means beautiful weather, picnics, fireworks and, of course, soup.


Yes, a summery, piping hot bowl of soup.

This particular weekend, it also means pointless macro photos of EVERYTHING because I just got a bonkers new lens. Like, I know you really NEEDED to see these leeks up close, right? Right.

Anyway, soup. I know it doesn’t scream “Holiday Weekend!” but it just sounded so good – a corn chowder (which was really more of a bisque) with sweet corn puree – and Gordon Ramsay has never let me down.* I mean, he lets me down on television week after week with the travesty that is Hell’s Kitchen, but food-wise, he’s been a winner.

*That is, the one other time I used the book Maze, it didn’t let me down.


Seriously, I’ve taken close-ups of not only food, but everything in the house – flowers in the backyard, a clove of garlic, my kitchen counters…it’s a problem. I mean, my kitchen counters aren’t even attractive.

This soup has a LOT of ingredients: onion, garlic, carrot, leeks, basil, thyme, lemongrass, star anise, coriander, peppercorns, tomato paste, brandy, wine, stock, cream, butter, lemon, and of course, crab and the corn puree. I always get a little concerned when something that should be simple has this many seemingly disparate ingredients, but I trusted in the recipe. Judging from the way my kitchen smelled as the aromatics and spices cooked gently, it was right to trust.

I added the tomato paste to the veg and let them cook together, and then it was time for the booze.


An entire pint of brandy went in and was duly set aflame and HOLY SHIT A PINT OF BRANDY MAKES A GIANT FUCKING FLAME. It was lapping at the range hood, and burned brightly for several minutes before finally dying down and leaving all the veg coated with a sticky lick of brandy residue.

As you may have guessed, I don’t flambĂ© very often. Perhaps it’s totally normal to have three-foot flames shooting out of the pot. In my day-to-day life? NOT NORMAL.

Thankfully, wine does not turn into a flamethrower when added to heat, so things calmed back down after The Brandy Incident. I cooked the wine down, added some stock and left the whole mess to simmer for 20 minutes while I read some truly odious historical fiction about witchcraft trials in medieval Germany. Those 20 minutes would have been better spent taking macro photos of my carpet lint, and I would like them back.


No soup recipe would be truly gourmet without straining, and this was no exception. I strained out all the solids, returned the resulting liquid to the stove – in a new, clean pot, of course – and whisked in some cream and crab. It was supposed to be brown crab meat, but the hoity-toity fishmonger I went to only had lump and jumbo lump, so I had to use fancy crab.

Oh, the first-world problems I have. Someone play me a tiny, sad violin, won’t you please?


I left the soup to reduce a bit on the stove while I threw together the corn puree, which is little more than corn heated with heavy cream and butter and whizzed in the FoPro. And then, of course, is pushed through a strainer.

I finished the soup off with lemon juice and some more salt, and it was time for a delicious if horribly unphotogenic dinner.


I mean, seriously, look at this. It looks like a bowl of tomato soup with a blob of mustard and some tuna floating in the middle. That is, it does not look like something one would want to consume.

Let me assure you, you DO want to consume this soup. The many ingredients meld together into a harmonious whole; smooth and bright, richly flavorful, no one ingredient predominating, and studded with sweet crab. It was surprisingly non-heavy for a cream-laden soup. I didn’t even care that it was the middle of summer and not at all a day that called for soup.

This soup is also remarkably filling, and neither Brian nor I could finish our bowls despite it not looking like all that much. And that’s saying something, because Brian and I can pack it away.

Gordon Ramsay: he’s a jackass on TV, but his recipes are damn good.