I’ve got soup on the brain. Our weather in south Louisiana is still warm and muggy, but the calendar just flipped to November, it’s getting darker earlier and there is a CRAZY amount of inspiring ingredients emerging from local farms and found in local grocery stores and at our Red Stick Farmers Market. This time of year yields incredible produce here in the Bayou State, and one of the easiest ways to enjoy it is in a yummy bowl of homemade soup. Here are five simple and delicious soup ideas that use regional raw materials.
One of the easiest ways to use fresh summer produce is in a luscious seasonal soup. I know, it’s hot outside, but your AC is probably on full blast, and soup is an inside dish. Corn soup (…and its many versions) is a longtime favorite around South Louisiana, but adding squash to the mix creates depth and wholesome goodness. Thanks to the Red Stick Farmers Market for planting the seed with their annual Corn & Squash-tastic event last Saturday celebrating the summer bounty. The idea of combining the two got stuck in my head and led to this simple recipe, which gives me a chance to do something different with yellow squash. I admit to getting stuck sometimes on expanding my use for it.
This soup tastes rich, but it’s really pretty healthy. A portion of the corn is pureed with a little broth to create a creamy consistency without actually using cream.
Every cool, crunchy and refreshing bite of a homemade Asian-inspired chicken salad is the perfect antidote for the premature South Louisiana heat, which, no surprise to any of us here in Baton Rouge, seems here to stay. The assembly of this fresh salad is fast and easy – doable even during the nasty end-of-school rush I find myself in. It’s substantial enough to serve as a main course, and if you accessorize it with some store bought (or homemade) spring rolls, then, well, look at that. You’re done.
The sinister underside to Louisiana’s otherwise perfect spring is pollen — and that stuff is about to kill me! Recently sprouted leaves on our neighborhood’s famed oak trees are now layered with fuzzy clumps of oak pollen that give the trees a yellowish sheen. Stand near one long enough and you see pollen dust falling like evil snow. It’s all over our cars and streets. There. Is. No. Escape.
Most years, this isn’t a big deal to me, but I must be getting old and intolerant because being outside makes my head feel like an oversized melon.
Only one thing to do – make a spring soup.
Lately, I’m in love with meatballs. All kinds, not just in spaghetti. You can toss them in soups, serve them on skewers with a variety of sauces or slide them between crusty po’boy or hero bread. They’re great with all sorts of ground meats including veal, lamb, pork, turkey, beef, sausage or chicken, and are further enhanced by different cheeses, bits of ham or prosciutto, pesto or fresh herbs. You can roll meatballs in breadcrumbs and pan-fry them in a skillet, or you can bake them on a cookie sheet to save calories. I find that meatballs in any form are appealing to most kids — mine included — and they’re great for making ahead and freezing. I like to work them into the weeknight line-up and save myself some time and grief.
Chef Jeremy Langlois is one of south Louisiana’s shining culinary stars, and he was nice enough to share his recipe for bisque of curried pumpkin, crawfish and corn with me. It’s one of the top sellers on the menu of Latil’s Landing at Houmas House, where he serves as the restaurant’s original executive chef. It’s an amazing place to have dinner.
I featured Chef Jeremy and his bisque in a recent story in 225 Magazine on greater Baton Rouge’s diverse soups. There’s a lot more going on in the Capital City than just gumbo, including this gorgeous bowl, traditional pho and yellow lentil from one the city’s latest Middle Eastern eateries. Check out the story to see the others we included. Recipe follows….