For National Homemade Soup Day, which for some unknown reason is always February 4, the first thing that comes to mind is the story of stone soup.
Some travelers go to a village carrying nothing more than an empty pot, and the villagers, who have little, are unwilling to help fill it. So the travelers fill the pot with water and a large stone, and place it over a fire. The curious villagers ask what they're doing, and the travelers say, "Making stone soup." But they suggest it could be better with a little garnish, so one villager feels he could part with a few carrots. Another walks by, inquires about pot, and the travelers suggest something else that could make it even better; the villager brings an onion. More villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient, until finally, a delicious soup is ready and enjoyed by all.
The moral: Generosity, cooperation, and you can throw just about anything in a pot and get a delicious, nourishing homemade soup. Especially a few potatoes and a lot of parmesan cheese.
In looking for a recipe to share for National Homemade Soup Day--and in the altruistic spirit of stone soup--we came across Mark Gold's (Eva Restaurant) delicious potato and parmesan soup in the Cart for a Cause Cookbook. The cookbook features a wonderful collection of recipes from some of L.A.'s top chefs, and all proceeds from the book, as well as the roaming food truck that inspired it, support St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Make a soup, nourish your soul, feed another. We like it.
Potato Parmesan Soup
Recipe adapted from Mark Gold, Eva Restaurant
Makes 6 servings
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced
8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 gallon vegetable stock or chicken stock (see note*)
4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 lemon, juiced (about ¼ cup)
In a large stock pot over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onion, fennel, garlic and apple until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are full cooked, about 30 minutes.
While the soup is still hot, puree in a blender in small batches. Stir in the cheese and the cream (if using). Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice. Garnish with fennel fronds if desired.
*Note: To make vegetable stock, in a soup pot combine 3 bunches leeks, roughly chopped; 2 cloves; 4 whole heads of garlic; and 1 bunch fresh parsley, coarsely chopped. Cover with gallon of water and simmer for 1 hour. Enjoy!
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