Soups of the South
Tracking the Soups of the South is a complex task as they are plentiful and could come with a different name: stew, consomme or bisque. I wouldn’t argue about the differences or similarities between them. They are close kin and they all fit together as dishes eaten customarily with a spoon and out of bowls. Soups and stews from the South have long been characterized as hearty, filling and substantial and they often replace the main meal.
But what are the “traditional” soups of the South or one of their siblings (stews, consommÃ©s or bisques)? According to Egerton’s book “Southern Food”, the Crawfish bisque is the number one food from the South. “For over a century, it has been the pride of New Orleans and South Louisiana. The recipes are complex and involved, featuring among other things, floating crawfish heads stuffed with a spicy breadcrumb mixture” says Egerton. But there are others: Conch Chowder in South Florida, Oyster Stew all along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, Bouillabaisse in New Orleans, Chili in Texas, Peanut Soup in Virginia, She-Crab soup in South Carolina and Georgia and finally, Clam Chowder drifting down from Maryland. “All of those have long been loved in the South. Some, of course, are loved everywhere”, says Egerton.
For the purpose of this article, I selected four recipes. The Butternut Squash Bisque from The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida, the Turtle soup from Brennan’s of Houston, Texas, the Minted Pea Soup, from The Grille at Morrison House, Alexandria, VA and the Frogmore Stew Soup, from Spring Island Club, in Okatie, South Carolina. Although they are not the long-established soups from the South, based on Egerton’s definition, they all express a new version and a modern culinary approach of top chefs and high-end restaurants from several Southern States.
Enjoy - with a spoon and out of a bowl!
Butternut Squash Bisque
- 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
- 3 Tbsp. Chopped Shallots
- 3 cups Butternut squash “pealed and rough chopped”
- Â½ cup Carrots “pealed and rough chopped”
- 1 each Red delicious apple
- 1 each Cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp. All spice
- 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
- Â¼ cup Pure maple syrup
- 1 qt. Chicken stock
- 1 cup Heavy cream
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the Garnish:
- Â½ cup Mascarpone cheese
- 1 tsp. Chopped chives
- 1 tsp. Chopped cooked smoked apple bacon
In a heavy bottomed soup pot, add oil and heat over medium high. Add shallots, butternut squash, carrots and apples. Cook until caramelized. Next, add all of the spices and the syrup. Stir and continue to cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken stock to the soup mixture and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about one hour. Heat up cream in a separate pot and bring to a boil and add the soup. Remove the cinnamon stick and puree the soup mixture with a buer mixer or little by little with a blender. Strain soup. Season soup with salt and pepper. To garnish, top soup with a small amount of Mascarpone cheese, chives, and bacon.
Anthony Sicignano, Executive Chef, The Breakers Palm Beach
Chef’s Note: Turtle soup is unquestionably the most popular dish at Brennan’s of Houston. We make 35-gallon batches in pots the size of small bathtubs. And we only use fresh water turtles, such as snapping turtle. It’s not safe to attend outside functions, such as charity events, without bringing kettles of turtle soup for guests to taste. Most guests claim this is the best soup ever!
*For mock turtle soup: substitute ground beef or a combination of half ground beef/half ground veal in chili grind.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds turtle meat,* chili or large grind
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Creole Seafood Seasoning
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Creole Meat Seasoning
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dry thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups veal stock (or substitute canned no-salt beef broth)
- 3/4 cup tomato puree
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons Louisiana hot pepper sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 5 ounces fresh spinach, stems removed, washed, patted dry, coarsely chopped
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
- Dry sherry for garnish (optional)
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown meat along with seafood and meat seasonings; cook about 20 minutes, or until liquid is almost evaporated.
- Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic while stirring constantly. Add thyme and bay leaves; reduce heat to medium and sautÃ© (stirring frequently) 20 to 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and start to caramelize.
- Add stock and tomato puree; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes, periodically skimming away any fat that rises to the top.
- While stock is simmering, make roux. Heat 1/2 cup oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add flour, a little at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon â€“ being careful not to burn the roux.
- After flour is added, cook about 3 minutes, until roux smells nutty, is pale in color and the consistency of wet sand.
- Using a whisk, vigorously stir roux into soup, a little at a time to prevent lumping. Simmer uncovered about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom.
- Add sherry and bring to a boil. Add hot sauce and Worcestershire; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until starchy flavor is gone, skimming any fat or foam that rises to the top.
- Add lemon juice; return to a simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add spinach and chopped egg; bring to a simmer and adjust seasoning with seafood seasoning or salt. Remove bay leaves before ladling into bowls.
- When we serve the soup at the restaurant, we add a teaspoon-splash of sherry on top.
Chef Danny Trace, Brennan’s of Houston
Minted Pea Soup
- 2 Cups Fresh Blanched Peas
- 1 1/2 Cups Frozen peas
- 1/2 Bunch Mint
- 1 Quart vegetable Stock
- 1 T Champagne Vinegar
- Salt and White Pepper to taste
Blanch cleaned fresh peas in boiling salted water for 20 seconds. Immediately shock in an ice bath. Place fresh blanched peas, frozen peas, and picked mint into blender. Heat vegetable stock to a boil. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Pour warm stock into blender to cover ingredients. Blend on low. May not require all stock; add as needed to desired consistency. Add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Serve cold with a garnish of julienne Virginia Ham, Crushed Virginia Peanuts and sliced scallions.
Chef Dennis Marron ,The Grille at Morrison House
- 2oz. butter
- 4oz. ground Tasso with seasoning
- 3 celery sticks medium dice
- 1 large onion medium dice
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 12oz. smoked sausage cut lengthwise then cut into half moons
- 4 cups of corn shucked & scraped
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 medium Idaho potatoes peeled & diced
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 quarts shrimp stock
- 32 oz. v-8 juice
- 4 tablespoons shrimp base
- 2 table spoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 2 shrimp peeled and deveined (save shells for shrimp stock)
- 4 each of green onions sliced thin on a bias
- Heat a 24 qt. Dutch oven to medium.
- Sautee Tasso, celery, & onion till vegetables are translucent.
- Add garlic, smoked sausage, potato, & corn.
- Add old bay, seasoning salt, onion powder, garlic powder, & sautee for about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze with white wine and reduce by half.
- Add shrimp stock, v-8 juice, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cook until the potatoes break down a little and thicken the soup.
- Add shrimp base, & Worcestershire sauce
- Add chopped shrimp & scallions. Cook 5 minutes.
- Taste & adjust season if necessary.
Chef Anthony Gates, Spring Island Club