Quick Soup Blog

We are coming to the end of our first sweep—from Ethiopia to Australia and the Pacific Islands on the beach comber route. Aboriginal DNA relates the closest to African DNA, making it the oldest population outside of Africa, on earth, which I think also means that these early migrators pushed hard and fast all the way to Australia (where they then hunted all the macrofauna, who had no fear of primates because there were none, to extinction). Crazy. Freaking homo sapiens!

Here are the final three soups from this region:


Saucy & Spicy; It’s Good to be Ethiopian

Soup 1 on this year’s Around the World in 40 Soups adventure is Doro Wat from Ethiopia! We are following early human migratory routes, starting at the birthplace of humankind, in Africa, in the country where the oldest remains of Homo Sapiens have been found.

Doro Wat is a great example of Ethiopian cuisine, one of the country’s most beloved dishes. Traditionally a spiced, thickened chicken stew that would be mounded over rice on a big round of sourdough flatbread called Injera, and shared from a communal dish, pieces of the spongy bread torn and wrapped around the fragrant, brick red Doro Wat.


Diving Into the Belly of The Whale

Here are the abridged highlights of the email for those of you in a hurry, but scroll down to enjoy my long screed about the belly of the social media whale and/or click through to our blog


Lagom, Nog and Senegalese Màfe

Vinaigrette began with the idea of cultivating balance a healthy relationship to food and drink, neither draconian or overly indulgent, but just right. We try to make dishes that manage to be both healthy and delicious in equal or near equal measure. The Swedish term for this sweetspot is lagom, a word that translates to “just the right amount.”

Proper balance should make room for both pleasure and tradition, especially during the holidays. That means that my lagom includes the eggnog my family concocts, like clockwork, every December. It’s a hallowed process.


How a Turkey Got its Name

The confusing history of the naming of the domestic turkey—a bird that originated in the Americas—was often mistaken in Europe for a Guinea fowl from Ethiopia, was therefore given the name of all sorts of other exotic countries, and then was brought back to America with early settlers again-is one of many delectable topics in Dan Jurafsky’s book The Language of Food.

His book touches on many of the themes that we were so excited about in our soup travels.  Particularly the idea that recipes are a sort of cultural DNA, and that by following the history of our dishes and their shifting ingredients, we see our complex heritage, and the many ways our paths have crossed and recrossed throughout time.


Clams, Damn Clams

I think hard sells are tacky and I usually try to eschew begging.  But in this case, I am making an exception: please come have clam chowder at Vinaigrette this week.  Seriously, please.  I’ve been babying these damn clams since they arrived, all fresh and clammy and cute, and worrying about them for weeks before that.  Making sure they don’t suffocate, or drown, that they stay perfectly cold, that we squeeze them and scrub them just so.  (How can a creature that buries itself in the mud with a slimy foot and sucks seawater through a straw for food be so high maintenance?) My staff is about to kill me, they are so sick of hearing about clams.  Do it for them.  And after all, don’t we all need more bivalve mollusks in our lives?

Enough about the clams, lets talk about the chowder. We have used Daniel Bouloud’s recipe, which is involved and precise, simple and perfect.  It’s rich and creamy, but I swear somehow clean and crisp, maybe because it doesn’t have any flour, so it’s never gluey and doesn’t leave you feeling like you have swallowed a softball.


The Gastronomical Us

MFK Fisher was one of the best writers of the last century.  Her skills were often overlooked by critics, though, who didn’t find her subject matter weighty or important enough. After all, she was just a food writer, which was “women’s stuff, a trifle.”

We in the food business wrestle with versions of this sneaky bias almost every day. It’s there in every rushed lunch and the feeling that a meal in the middle of the day is a guilty, expendable indulgence. Or in every server who feels ashamed of the work, that it’s something he or she can only justify doing “for now.”  It’s there every time we struggle with how to price our food fairly, for the labor and quality that actually goes into it, and not based on stereotypes set by subsidies and junk food.


The Mulligatawny Mood

This week’s World Soup (until Monday, when we switch to Thai Pumpkin Laksa) is Mulligatawny, a super flavorful pureed lentil soup we are serving with a toasted spice and tomato chutney and a zing of yogurt.


United Soups of America

Soups Tell Stories

Take this week’s historic soups: Philadelphia Pepper Pot-sometimes called the “Soup that Won The War”-and Senate Bean Soup, a homey ham-studded white bean soup that has been served every day at the Senate Dining Room in D.C. since 1903.


Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble!

As of yesterday (Wednesday) we are live with our Corn Chowder at all of the Vinnies!  There are so many delicious chowders we will try, but we wanted to sneak in one featuring corn while its still in season.  As you can tell, we have been ambling around North America to begin our travels (we also have Québécois Split Pea & Ham through Monday).  Corn Chowder, like Clam Chowder, hails from New England and the Northern Atlantic Coast and traditionally contained little more than butter, onion, celery, milk, lots of corn and sometimes potatoes.  We have given ours a little Southwestern flair, adding bell peppers and a bright cilantro garnish, because we couldn’t help it, but also because this is how soup recipes have evolved over millennia-through sharing, traveling and tweaking.