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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Time to add soup to the menu

With the cold weather upon us, time to add soup to our menu. In Louisiana, you would naturally think of gumbo. My thoughts today bring me back to the soups that we made weekly at Cannon’s restaurant in New Orleans.

We had a standing rotation of soups that customers would often plan their dinner plans around. On Mondays and Fridays, we would serve Artichoke soup. Tuesdays and Saturdays were a wide variety of soups, ranging from Chicken Tortilla to Vegetable Chowder. Today I am sharing with you three of Cannon’s soup offerings, Broccoli and Cheese, Chicken and Mushroom and Asparagus.

This is the popular soup that was served on Wednesdays and Sundays. It is a quick and easy soup to make. This made it our go to recipe when we were starting to run out of the soup of the day. It is also a great topping for a grilled chicken breast.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

1/2 quart broccoli minced (Buds and Stems)

1/4 quart onions chopped

1/4 pound margarine (1 stick)

1/2 cup flour

3/4 quart chicken stock

3/4 quart half and half

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

1 1/2 pounds Velveeta cheese

Melt margarine. Sauté onions and broccoli until soft. Add flour and mix well. Slowly add chicken stock stirring with a wire whisk. On a low fire, cook out the flour taste for approximately 5 minutes. Pour in half and half with a steady flow, stirring continuously. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add Velveeta slowly. Cook approximately 10 minutes.

This soup was usually offered on Thursdays. One time, an assistant made the soup and could not understand why it was so thin and tasted funny. Instead of tarragon leaves, they used tarragon vinegar. Unfortunately, we had to make the soup over again. Always read your recipes first before starting to cook.

Chicken and Mushroom Soup

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)

1 cup onions, chopped

4 tablespoons margarine

1 quart fresh mushrooms, cut stems & buttons

1 quart cooked chicken breast, small dice

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon tarragon leaves

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pinch nutmeg

Sauté mushrooms in margarine. Remove from heat and save mushrooms, discard margarine. Melt butter and sauté onions over medium heat. Do not brown onions. Add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock slowly, mixing with a wire whisk to keep flour from lumping. Cook flour taste out and let thicken until it resembles creamy mashed potatoes in consistency. Add chicken and mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. Stir in heavy cream and cook for 10 minutes. Add white pepper, thyme, tarragon, and nutmeg. Remove from heat and serve.

This next soup was not part of the regular rotation. We only made this during the spring months when asparagus was at its peak. It was often missed when it was unavailable. Many guest looked forward to its return.

Asparagus Soup

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, steamed

1 cup flour

2 1/2 quarts chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter

1/5 pounds onions, chopped

1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1 quart & 1/4 cup heavy cream

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven. Sauté onions until transparent. Add flour and cook for two minutes. Add chicken stock, salt, white pepper and bay leaves and stir to remove lumps. Lower heat and simmer until it reduced by 1/2 and is thickened.

Take 3 cups of the stock out of the pot. Put portions of the steamed asparagus in a blender, add a little of the stock, and blend. Pour blended asparagus into a bowl until all of the asparagus is blended. Add asparagus to the stock and blend. Add heavy cream and cook over low heat until thickened.

I hope that these soups warm your body and bring a smile to your face. After over 20 years, I can still remember some of my former guests favorites. I hope one of these will get added to your rotation.

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