Spicy (soup kitchen)

A little different format today. I’m going to toss several recipes and mender in the middle. Here is an interesting soup from which the remainder of this discussion will spring. No, no name yet.

1 TBLSP virgin olive oil
1 TBLSP flour
1 TBLSP black peppercorns
1 c chicken broth
1 c whole milk.

Heat saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, then add flour and peppercorns. Stir to make a roux. Add broth and bring to a boil, then stir in milk and serve.

While not as hot as you might expect, it’s definitely got a bite. Thing is the big thing you can taste is the peppercorn. Now this isn’t going to be a popular soup, and in fact it’s a very simplified version of a soup we’re going to get to in a bit. But first, some meandering.

As I think I’ve mentioned, back when I thought I was going to be a chef I got a dishwashing gig under a REAL chef. Setting aside a lot of other things, when he discovered I was going to be a chef he started teaching me not about knives or heat or pans or other such but instead about spices. I got three small teas every day, and at the end of the week if I could identify all 12 unlabeled teas correctly I got a small bonus. The teas were initially made of spices, later of spice combinations, and I learned a LOT. Secondarily, I discovered that these spices often tasted pretty good as tea.

But I didn’t do much with it.

Many, many years pass and two things happen in close succession. First, my wife laments she can’t get cilantro soup. And I have soup with a friend who’s guest calls it something I can’t understand, and then says it’s “black pepper soup”. Now I’m going to give you recipes to both in a bit, but I want to stop and look at this.

You can make a spice the Big Star of a soup. Sometimes that’s just simply brilliant. Depending on the spice and your particular tastebuds you might bring out a strong supporting cast, but it’s possible to just make a bit of thickened broth, perhaps some cream or milk (or perhaps not), and make that spice a STAR. It was eye-opening.

Now the Indian black pepper soup I learned has a strong supporting cast and frankly most people will like it better than my earlier soup. It goes something like this. Oh, wait. I’ve got another recipe style – a flow system – and I’m going to throw it at you. Feel free to comment – it’s one I learned along the way that I actually consider the best, though it takes some time to get used to. I just prefer to ramble, and most people are used to the I/I (ingredient, instruction) format. If people really like it I’ll try to remember to do it consistently. If they don’t I won’t. If I get no comment, I’ll do whatever seems right at the time (grin).

– Heat Saucepan over medium heat
— add
—1 Tablespoon of oil (ghee or olive oil)
— heat
— add to oil
— 1 Tablespoon wheat flour
— 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
— 4-6 curry leaves
— stir over heat till yellow roux forms
— add
— 1/2 tsp coriander powder
— 1/4 tsp tumeric powder
— 3-4 oz (half a small can if purchased) tomato paste
— 2 cups chicken broth
— stir, bring to boil, serve.

salt to taste

(When I went searching for this recipe and others like it on the internet, I only found ONE other. It has minor differences – adds aamchur, and uses water instead of broth. I’ve never tried mango powder – I want to thank Anjana Bhatia for the idea.)

It’s lovely. It’s actually a very peppery curry soup, beautiful in color and taste. You can also see it’s where my first soup came from, though I like the way the dairy works with the pepper as an alternative.

If you’re going to play with soups, I highly recommend giving a try to ‘just’ a spice in broth, followed by things to move it from primary ingredient to STAR. Here’s another way, and it’ll work for a LOT of green leafy spices – parsley and basil, for example. This is Cilantro soup – actually, it’s Cream of Cilantro soup. I got it from Mark Burnett at repobrain.com though (as we all do) I’ve modified mine slightly. (He’s got a youtube video of making it. Enjoy.)

– In preparation
— coarsely chop one bunch cilantro
— seed, stem and remove membrane of one jalapeno pepper
– In Blender
— add
— coarsely chopped cilantro
— seeded, stemmed and de-membraned jalapeno pepper
— two cloves garlic
— 16 oz chicken broth
— puree. Set aside.
– Heat saucepan over medium heat
— add
— 2 tablespoons butter
— melt butter.
— add
— 1 tablespoon flour
— 1/4 tsp salt
— 1/4 tsp cumin powder OR 1/2 tsp roasted cumin seeds, ground
— stir and make light roux.
— add
— 16 oz chicken broth
— heat till boil, then reduce heat to medium
— add
— cilantro puree
— 8 oz sour cream
— heat to simmer
— add while stirring
— 8 oz cream cheese in one ounce chunks
— allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.


Go play with your spices. Let them be the main attraction for a change. You just might find something special when you do.


2 thoughts on “Spicy (soup kitchen)

  1. I like this recipe style. It would be a little cumbersome if you had a complicated recipe with a lot of ingredients, but for what you’re doing, it works very well. You could always put a recap of the ingredients at the end if need be.

    Only been reading you a week or so now. Enjoying it so far.

  2. The I&I method assumes the people using it are going to assemble the ingredients ahead of time; both for shopping and for mise en place. My frustration has always been that most cooks (not chefs) tend to assemble based solely on the ingredient list order – and miss necessary steps such as “pause and let it reheat”. Though I do use a story style for many of my recipes (see most of this blog for examples), it suffers both from not having ingredients clearly marked and from the standard problem if I&I: difficulty in noting where you stopped for more complex recipes.

    I’m trying to develop something that balances, and your suggestion of adding an ingredient list to the end is quite good, I think.

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