roast pink: the breast cancer awareness soup by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

I've been thinking lately of how the Think Pink campaign of the Susan G. Komen Foundation has to be one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever conceived. It's also interesting to see how long it takes for brands to emerge, years typically. Think Pink has grown somewhat organically over the past 5 years and this year it just seems to have exploded into every available market. Pink is everywhere these days.

So when I was making one of my standard fall soups recently (roasted cauliflower) and went to finish it I remembered those roasted red peppers that were in the fridge. So into the blender went the roasted cauliflower, apples, onion, and red peppers which resulted in this dish. Garnished with ground roasted cashews seasoned with just a small amount of bacon bits.

week of soups--day 6: tomato, pepper, and mushroom by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

week of soups--day 6: tomato, pepper, and mushroom

Don't know about you, but we're getting tired of soups. So let's finish out easy.
Add some of the duxelles to the tomato and pepper base. Heat and serve. I like to add home-made croutons to the dish (for crunch!) but you could do any number of things to liven this soup up. i.e. a dollop of chevre would do the trick.

week of soups--day 5: tomato,red pepper, and salmon by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

week of soups--day 5: tomato,red pepper, and salmon

Since we already have our soup base (day 4) this one will be a breeze.

What you'll need for each serving. Approximately 3-4 ounce serving of fresh wild salmon. Forget the farm-raised stuff. It lacks flavor and color. And forget the salmon if it doesn't look fresh. I've noticed that a lot of fish mongers are keeping fish past it's prime in the case, just to make the case look full and to hold down inventory. Don't be afraid to tell the butcher that you want that one, yeah that one, 3rd from the back, and can you cut it half? A good shop will oblige you what you want. You could float lesser quality, less flavorful fish (like talapia) in this soup but only for the added protein. The soup would largely overwhelm the mild flavor of a whitefish. But if the salmon looks like it might kill you, then substitute. Please substitute.

Heat the tomato and red pepper soup base gently. Place the salmon pieces in an oiled (olive oil!) glass baking pan. Drizzle some oil on the top of the fish and then sprinkle the salmon pieces with paprika, sea salt, and a small amount of black pepper. Bake @ 325°F for ~15 minutes or until 130° F. Remove from the oven. Let stand for a few minutes. Then ladle the hot soup in the bowls and place on the salmon pieces in the center. If you do this right, the salmon will finish in the bowl, retaining its flake and moistness.

I love the red-orange color of this dish and the nutty flavor of the salmon against the spicy sweet and slighly acid taste of the soup.

week of soups--day 4: spicy tomato and roasted red pepper by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

week of soups--day 4: spicy tomato and roasted red pepper

OK. This isn't exactly the time of the year for tomatoes but there are some decent hydroponics out there. But they won't have that mid-summer flavor so the best only thing to do is cook with them. Plus it's nice sometimes to bring a little bit of summer into your kitchen when the weather outside is frosty.

6 medium paste-type or a dozen Roma tomatoes, skinned and diced.
3-4 large carrots, diced.
1 medium onion, diced.
1 cup chopped celery.
2 large red bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and chopped.
1 chile (or habanero!) pepper, diced finely.
5-6 cloves of peeled garlic.
1 cup of vegetable stock.
Salt, pepper to taste.

This will take a little bit of time (not nearly as much as the day 1 stock) but once finished, you'll have the base for soups 4 thru 6.

To skin the tomatoes. Core them and slice an X through the bottom skin. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for ~1 minutes until the skin splits and then remove and drop in ice water. The skins should slip off easily at this point. Dice the tomatoes coarsely.

Saute the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil in a heavy bottom stock pot until tender. Add the tomatoes, cover and bring to a boil. Then add the peppers, garlic, and vegetable stock and simmer for 1/2 or so until the carrots are tender. The zip in this soup comes from the hot pepper and garlic. Adjust these spices to your flavor profile. Adding the garlic at the end also retains more of the heat of the garlic. If you saute the garlic on the front end, you'll have a much milder flavor in the finished soup. Likewise with the hot pepper. Retain the veins and seeds for heat and remove these for a more moderate flavor.

Process the cooked soup in a blender or food processor. Serve hot with croutons or hearty bread.

week of soups: day 3 (duxelles) by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Duxelles are essentially a paste of mushrooms. I make then when I can find some high quality mushrooms at a good price. These were made with several pounds of smaller portabellas that were on sale as a loss leader.

2 lbs of portabella mushrooms, cleaned, dry, and chopped.
1 small onion, diced.
1/2 leek, finely minced.
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced.
Salt, pepper.
1/4 cup olive oil.
2 T. butter.
1/4 fine quality wine (red or white).
2 T. balsamic vinegar.
6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced.

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the onions; saute until translucent. Then add the leeks and when wilted, add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Stir to brown and then cover so that the liquid in the mushrooms is released. After about 10 minutes remove the lid to allow the juices to evaporate. When most of this liquid has evaporated, add the wine and the garlic, and reduce again for approximately 10 minutes. When most of this liquid has evaporated, add the balsamic vinegar and the tarragon. Cover briefly and then uncover and stir until all of the excess liquid has been reduced. Pack in clean glass jars, cover, cool, and refrigerate.

Use to flavor soups, sauces, sides, and entrees.

week of soups--day 3: cream of mushroom soup by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

day 3: cream of mushroom soup
Still easy. This will be ready in 20 minutes.

In a heavy pan add 2 cups of heavy cream. (OK. All you skim milk freaks can do whatever you want here, but it's moderation that's the key my friends). Moderation. And a high quality, locally produced heavy cream won't hurt you once in a while. So get to it.

Now reduce the cream by half. Use a heavy pan with high sides so the when enough it first foams it won't over top onto the stove. Then cut the heat to a simmer while it reduces, stirring occasionally. Then add 3 cups of consomme and 1 cup of duxelles (mushroom paste-recipe follows). Stir. Boost the flavors with a dash of tarragon. And serve. With toast.

week of soups--day 2: oxtail soup by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

day 2: oxtail soup

OK. Now it gets real easy.
Remove the cooked oxtail from the refrigerator and let warm on the stove while your reheating the consomme.
Pull the meat from the oxtails. There isn't a lot, but remember, we're in a recession. There's plenty enough to get by.

Now you can do the same thing you did the day before with the spinach, and the watercress. Except add the oxtail. It's already cooked. Add the piping hot consomme on top. And serve. With crackers. And cheese if you wish. Viola! Dinner in 15-minutes.

week of soups--day 1: consomme with spinach and watercress by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

We're going to make the day 1 soup and prep for the day 2 soup at the same time.

For the consomme. See either your favorite cookbook or a previous post. What you want is a hearty, robust beef stock that is full of flavor which is then clarified. It begins with some important ingredients.

Bones. Ask the butcher for stock bones. You'll need a couple of pounds. Don't use stew meat, use bones.

Oxtail.For the day 2 soup, but you're also going to use it flavor the stock.

Vegetables. To include at a minimum, 1 large or 2 medium onions, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 stalk of celery, 3-4 large carrots, and tomatoes (or paste).

To prepare the stock. Brush a roasting pan lightly with olive oil. Halve the onions and place spilt side down in the pan along with the bones (2 lbs) and oxtail pieces (1/2 pound). Add the remaining ingredients and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in a hot oven (~425-450°F) for approximately 30 minutes until the bones are brown and the vegetables tender.

Once the stock ingredients have browned pull them from the oven and place immediately in a large heavy-duty stock pan. Cover with cold water. Important! De-glaze the roasting pan and place the juices in the stock pot. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer, simmer, simmer very gently overnight.

First thing next morning. Remove from heat and let cool until you can handle safely. Hand towels and shoes can prevent permanent injury when handling hot stocks. Cover your arms with the towels and your feet with the shoes.

While the stock cools, strain out the large pieces and place them in a sieve over another large pot. Pull out the oxtail pieces and set aside for the next days soup. Strain the stock through a very fine strainer taking care to extract the liquid held in the vegetables. The back of a ladle works great for this.

Now at this point you can refrigerate the stock if you wish. The fat in the stock will rise and once chilled, you can easily skim the fat off and discard.

Now for the hard part. Turn the stock into consomme. For this you'll need a raft. A raft is a mixture of lean ground beef, egg whites, and mirepoix. It's absolutely essential that you have acid (i.e. tomatoes) in the mirepoix or it won't set properly. No tomatoes? Add a dash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

You may want to consult a reference cookbook such as: Cook's Illustrated, The Professional Chef, or any number of French gastronomy books on how to use a raft to clear the stock.

The basic premise is this. For a gallon of stock, you'll need a pound of lean ground beef, 5 egg whites, and 2-3 cups of diced mirepoix (this is how you get rid of those scraps and end pieces of vegetables in the bin that have bugging you). Mix them together and place in the cold stock. Slowly heat the stock while stirring the pot. At around 120°F, the proteins in the egg whites will begin to coagulate. Important!Stop stirring at the is point. As the temperature increases to a simmer, the raft will come together and when it does, the impurities in the stock will coalesce around them. Slowly left the stock simmer for about an hour to extract the flavors from the mirepoix, but do not left it boil vigorously. Pierce the raft to left steam out and hold it intact.

After an hour, pull the stock from the heat and let cool some before straining. To make a completely clear consomme you will likely have to strain the stock twice - unless you are a master with the raft. Strain first through a fine sieve to remove the large pieces and the raft. Then strain through cheesecloth or tea towel to clarify.

Once finished the stock should be clear and free of oil. Whew! That was a lot of work, but the THINGS you can do with this are out-of-this world. The fun is just beginning. And not to mention how this can be used as a base for flavoring soups. Place the stock back on the burner and reduce by 1/3.

day 1: consomme with spinach and watercress

Place 1/4 cup of washed baby spinach and 1/4 cup of fresh watercress in each large soup bowl. Bring the consomme to a boil and immediately ladle over the greens. The heat will wilt the greens. Serve with hearty bread, fresh apples or pears, and citrus on the side.

a week of soups by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Soup is good. Especially this time of year when the weather's not-so-great and you need to warm your bones after being outdoors. And soup can be easy. Here is a weeks worth of soups from 3 basic ingredients: consomme (clarified stock), duxelles (a mushroom paste), and a soup base made from tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Make any of these three soup bases on the weekend or your day off and then use them during the week when you want to have fresh, hot, and tasty soup. All of the bases will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. The duxelles will keep for several weeks.

One thing to note about all three of these bases, and this is especially telling in a tight economy, is that your guiding principle should be to extract as much of the flavor from the ingredients as possible. And with a few tricks, you can jazz any of these bases to your own particular interests.

The weekly soup line-up.Recipes to follow.

day 1: consomme with spinach and watercress

day 2: oxtail soup

day 3: cream of portabella mushroom

day 4: spicy tomato and roasted pepper

day 5: salmon, tomato, and roasted pepper

day 6: tomato, roasted red pepper and portabella

day 7: pizza!