Pictured: The Bristol's venison goulash
Last year, unadorned cups of bone stock became the hottest sippable trend. Now, because human beings cannot subsist on broth alone, soup is staging a comeback.
Chefs like Anita Lo, of New York City’s Annisa (AnnisaRestaurant.com), are taking a few extra steps to remind diners why the ultimate comfort food is not just warm and hearty, but usually slurped from a bowl.
Not that long ago, the words “lentil soup” elicited excitement in exactly no one. But one whiff of Lo’s artful curry lentil concoction will leave you blubbering like a teenage fan girl at a One Direction concert. She tops the soup with 10 different herbs and spices (including sumac, cinnamon, and cumin), placing them in tiny little piles. “Guests can taste each individually or mix them all together,” Lo explains. “It’s a more interactive experience.” More interactive and more delicious.
Pictured: Decca's sweet potato soup
At The Bristol in Chicago (TheBristolChicago.com), chef Sean Pharr merges a traditional chili with a robust goulash to create a wild game stew. Spiked with paprika, onion, and cocoa, the luscious, velvety brew celebrates a different side of harvest time. “The fall is my favorite season because of hunting,” says Pharr, an inveterate carnivore. Meanwhile, Decca (DeccaRestaurant.com) in Louisville, Ky., opts for non-traditional spices like sumac to add what chef Annie Pettry calls “a pop that turns a familiar dish into something entirely new.” That familiar dish is a roasted sweet potato soup, amped up with a lovely blend of coconut cream and Marcona almonds.
Soups are very forgiving — if you get the proportions wrong, just throw in some more ingredients — so if the winter chill comes early, you can try making a good number of them at home. Lo encourages experimentation: “Rules are made to be broken,” she says, before noting one special ingredient that should be ladled into any soup: “Love, with a twist.”
Red Lentil Soup
Courtesy of Anita Lo, Annisa, New York City
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large slice of ginger
1 quart red lentils
2-3 quarts chicken stock
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Fresh lemon juice (to taste)
Sweat onion in oil until soft and translucent. Rinse lentils. Add to pot with chicken stock and ginger; simmer until falling apart. Remove ginger and puree until smooth, adding more stock if necessary to create soupy texture. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Pinch desired garnishes around edge of soup: sumac, oregano, small pinch cinnamon, Korean ground chili, za’atar, lemon zest julienne, cumin, small-dice mint brunoise.
For pinch of red quinoa: Boil until tender. Drain. Flash-fry in 350° oil until it puffs like popcorn. Add salt.
For pinch of fried shallots: Fry at low temperature until golden brown. Drain. Season with salt.
Place fried garnishes last. Drizzle small round of olive oil in the center. Serve 6 oz. per dish.