Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alpine Soup

     A Hot, Hearty, Delicious Alpine Ski Lodge Style Soup!  
     Alpine soup is perfect for warming up after a enjoying long day of winter sports in cold crisp mountain air.  Revive and revitalize is what this classic soup is designed to do.
     The flavors of this soup are comfortable and inviting.  This soup literally increases a winter weary appetite and even after eating a large bowl, guests often ask for seconds.  Alpine Soup is one of those items that makes the body crave for more!
     I learned how to make this hearty soup about 20 years ago while reading an article about winter ski lodge cuisine.  I served this soup as a winter season soup du jour while working at a fine dine French café and later at a casual English pub.  It did not matter whether the clientele was wealthy retirees or working class stiffs, the customers really liked the Alpine Soup!
     By definition, Alpine Soup is really a potage, because no fancy cooking techniques are involved and all the ingredients are simmered in one pot.  The rich broth provides nutrients that quickly digest.  Alpine Soup is loaded with big pieces of potato that give a tired skier new found energy.  The leafy greens and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals.  Chunks of ham and chicken add plenty of protein to heal sore tired muscles.  As far as winter sports food is concerned, Alpine Soup is just what the doctor ordered!
     Alpine Soup: 
     This recipe yields about 3 1/2 cups.  This is enough for 2 average portions or 1 large hearty portion.  Someone that spends all day on the cold mountain slopes will certainly prefer the large hearty portion option!
     Step 1:  Heat a large sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 3 tablespoons of thin sliced leek.
     Add 1/4 cup of chopped onion.
     Gently sauté till the leeks wilt and the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour while stirring, to soak up the excess butter.  (About 3 to 4 teaspoons.)
     Stir for about 30 seconds, so the flour and butter combine to make a roux.
     Step 3:  Add 3 cups of rich chicken stock.
     Add 4 ounces of large bite size pieces of boneless chicken.
     Add 4 ounces of large bite size pieces of ham that are torn by hand.
     Add an 8 ounce peeled russet potato that is cut into 5 or 6 large pieces.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme leaves.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the soup to a boil, while gently stirring.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 large Swiss Chard leaf that is cut into large pieces.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce till the potatoes are fully cooked and the total volume of the soup is about 3 1/2 cups.  The thickened broth should be a thin consistency that barely glazes a spoon.
     Step 6:  Keep the soup warm over very low heat.
     Ladle the soup into a large bowl and serve.
     This soup does not take much time to prepare.  Alpine soup is not meant to be simmered for an extra long period of time.  Alpine soup is quickly made to order for guests that are cold, tired and hungry!

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