Arguing for Soup

September 11, 2012

This is the seventeenth installment of Sunday Dinners, a biweekly column from our own Tom Hirschfeld featuring his gorgeous photography, stunning Indiana farm, and mouthwatering family meals.

Today: Tom argues for soup's spot on the table and cooks up a Sunday dinner of Creamy Sorrel Soup, Sunday Roast Chicken, and Black Seeded Simpson with American Farmhouse Vinaigrette.

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Many a memorable fine dining experience has begun with a good soup. A server brings out a warm bowl with a few choice ingredients arranged prettily in the bottom then pours a hot broth over the top, or he simply lifts a lid off an Asian-style bowl. Either way, the escaping steam carries the aroma of herbs and good broth upward, appealing to your appetite and sense of smell as if it were arguing a Supreme Court case.

I enjoy a good soup as the first course to my Sunday dinners too. I don’t mean a super-involved, pureed, sieved, and refined soup. Nor do I mean full-meal, chock-full-of-meat soups either. I want something quick, light, and delicious -- I consider it a side dish, say, instead of serving a potato gratin or some sort of noodle. Then with the actual main course I only serve a green vegetable, and I end the dinner with a light salad.

I know, I know, a few weeks back I muttered something about wanting to simplify my cooking strategies. What I realized was that I need to have a plan to be able to stick to this notion, but I am an old dog after all. A Hoosier too, which in any language is a synonym for old dog -- I guess that makes me a double dog. And being a Hoosier means I am as set in my ways as a handprint in dried concrete.

Here in the heartland, change has never been like a light switch, but more like watching paint dry. We like things to be the same. Change needs to be subtle and take time. Really, we need convincing. We need proof change is beneficial. We simply want to know what we are going to get -- after all, we are the kind of people who wear the same color and style of pants every day so we don’t waste time having to think about it.

But I am thinking about it, because I don’t want my food to be the same color of pants. I want it to be exiting. I want to want to sit down to eat. I want to be at the table with the TV off. I want to yell at my children to eat th.., um, I mean, talk to my children about their day. And god forbid I should ever tote them around 24/7 in a car feeding them out of a bag. (Let me amend that statement to say, being in the car or feeding them out of a bag on a daily basis.)

But making a soup on Sunday can work in my favor -- it's simple, not too complicated, and not too different. I have lots of vegetables in the garden needing to be used and if I make extra soup, well, come Monday I have lunch for everybody, too.

Seems like a great idea to me, but the girls will be the judge of that.

Sunday Dinner Menu:

Creamy Sorrel Soup
Serves 4
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup celery, washed, trimmed and small dice
2 cups starchy potatoes, small dice
1/3 cup basmati rice
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cream
2 1/2 cups sorrel, washed, spun dry and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Sunday Roast Chicken
Serves 4
2 chickens, 3 1/2 pounds each
3 tablespoons goose, duck fat or even bacon drippings
1 head of garlic, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 small onion halved
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 handful Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed in a mortar and pestal
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Black Seeded Simpson with American Farmhouse Vinaigrette
Serves 4
6 cups Black Seeded Simpson lettuce or other bitter leafy greens
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons salad oil
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
lots of green onion, slice into thin rounds
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Vivian Henoch
    Vivian Henoch
  • Muse
  • smithviki
  • Lilismom
  • TXExpatInBKK
Father, husband, writer, photojournalist and not always in that order.


Vivian H. September 23, 2012
looks luscious. The perfect dinner in my book --(even though roast chicken is a tough sell in my household.)
Muse September 16, 2012
Today is the PERFECT day to make some of this soup, and have it in the living room watching NASCAR races! Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe.
smithviki September 16, 2012
I think you mean you want your food to be exciting, not exiting. "But I am thinking about it, because I don’t want my food to be the same color of pants. I want it to be exiting."
Lilismom September 12, 2012
I can't get sorrel where I live., would watercress be a good substitution?
thirschfeld September 13, 2012
Watercress would be equally delicious but it wouldn't be the same. Sorrel is lemony while watercress is peppery. Which I say this but know you more then likely already know this.
TXExpatInBKK September 11, 2012
That soup looks gorgeous... makes me want to curl up on the couch with it.