Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Soup Night

Mm... cold weather. The perfect time for soups of all kinds!  Especially soups made from the lasting produce from the warm summer.  During Lent when I was growing up, our parish would have a weekly "soup night" (on Wednesdays).  We would pack our bowls and spoons (usually we used the "motor-home" spoons--not Momma's good silverware) and napkins and cups into the soup night basket.  (Incidentally, sibs, I saw this lady at the farmer's market with that exact same basket! So many memories!)  Ooh, and then when we got to soup night, they'd have fresh bread! and you could smell it all the way outside the parish hall.  Sometimes Momma would make her pull-apart bread (recipe to follow later, hopefully).  That bread with butter and hot soup is a recipe for happiness in a bowl :)

But I digress.  I decided last year (probably due in large part to the chilly frigid Boston winters) that soup night should be more than just a Lenten thing.  Once the weather cools down, I try to do at least one soup a week, and if I made a big enough recipe: PRESTO! instant hot lunches.


And so... I made beet soup the other night.  The soup was quite tasty, but the real reason I am posting to highlight my favorite kitchen gadget.

I didn't know they had nifty things like this until I read about it in a cookbook.  I had done plenty of blended soups before.  Well I knew the tedious process of scooping out all the chunks-of-whatever in the soup, putting them in my regular blender, and returning the blended soup to the pot.  Of course, you'd have to do this several times if you made a big recipe, since not all the solids would fit in the blender at the same time.

And the results were never uniform.  Maybe I didn't do it right, but I always ended up with only semi-smoothly-blended soups, rather than the sweetly creamed soups in the recipe pictures...

And then enlightenment dawned!  I had discovered the easy way to blend my soups.  My stick blender (which was a present from my Sweet P'Taylor) has been the most labor-saving device (compared to scooping, blending, returning to pot, repeating ad nauseam, and cleaning up the plop mess between pot and blender), at the best cost, and the most convenience.  All I have to do is plug it in, stick it in the pot, and push the button.

I rave about it whenever we have friends over for a blended soup :) In just a few minutes, it turns a chunky soup into a smooth-textured delicacy.  And the only thing I have to wash is the bottom half of the stick blender (which, by the way, is dishwasher safe!).

We have the KitchenAid blender right now, available for $50.  But before this one, we had the Cuisinart blender (for $30), which worked beautifully (until we tried to blend some chunked chocolate into a milkshake... that dinna work so well).

The only real improvement in the KitchenAid over the Cuisinart that I've noticed is that the KitchenAid has multiple blending speeds.  (though I've only ever used one, so far). Maybe the lower ones would be better for mashed potatoes? Maybe the higher power ones are better for breakfast shakes or something?  I'd have to read the "d-istructions" (as Daddy would say) to find out.

But in the mean time, as fall wraps its brightly-leafed arms around Boston and chills the air, I will have a steady stream of quickly-blended soups ready to ward off the cold.

Happy fall! Happy soup-making!

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