I’m on a soup kick and this Indian summer that’s been in Boston for the last 8 days is driving me crazy. Hellooo Mother Nature, I’ve put most of my summer duds away and the AC is out of the window, so could you please change the leaves, turn down the temps and make it fall already! There is a rumor it’s coming. The ever-so-non-accurate Dylan Dreyer (our local Boston meteorologist who cares more about her Banana Republic outfit than accurate forecasting) is predicting fall like temps and rain this weekend so I hope she’s right. Sunday sounds like it’s going to be rainy with a high of 61/ low of 47, so it will be a perfect day to try and replicate Sel de la Terre’s Biere-Gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast. HOLY CRAP, this was pure taste bud ecstasy. If you don’t like cheese, stop reading. If you don’t like beer, stop following me all together.
This past Sunday, Dan picked me up from the airport and took me to a place he’d been wanting to try out, Sel de la Terre on the Wharf. A bottle of wine, some apps… it was a perfect Sunday evening. We started with their Petit Gouters; (bread accompaniments) Balsamic roasted shallots and garlic confit, french olives, and an Eggplant-goat cheese puree with toasted walnuts. We were starving but not blown away; they were however, nice little nibbles to start with. I like to ease into meals, I like to take my time, and I like to take in the flavors while enjoying my company.
I’m the slow eater, pain-in-the-ass servers do not like to wait on, but I’m polite and I also order bottles that I most often tip you on, so whatever. Since I like to take my time and enjoy a night out to dinner, I’m often frowned upon by management as I do not provide them the burn and turn rate they’d like. I’m also not often an entree orderer because I get full fast and then wind up being the jerk who’s taken two bites of her meal. I’ve parted ways with entrees for sometime now. I’m all about small plates, taste variety, and eating until I’m 80% full, so I can go out that night, duh!
Because I gravitate towards small bites, apps and soups, I am a firm believer that if you have good soup, everything else on your menu will be good. It’s hard to make a good soup. It requires an enormous amount of time to carefully simmer a stock to the right taste and in a big enough batch. Soups, in some cases also require a lot of straining, which in large volumes isn’t easy! Having the right consistency, flavor profile and depth of flavor can also be tricky. If you make a soup from scratch (not one poured out of a Cisco bag), you more often than not care about what you are cooking, take pride in your culinary skills, and have the chops to give me hope for the rest of your menu. This may be a biased opinion, but out of all the soup I have had in my life, I can think of one other that is memorable and a favorite: The Sherwood Inn’s French Onion.
Sel de la Terre’s Biere-gruyere soup with fall ale foam and sourdough toast, described as ecstasy above. is. just. that. It is a creamy, clean, perfectly seasoned puree of cheesy goodness with a pale ale finish. After the first spoon full I had an instant vision of my feet up, in ski gear, next to a fire after a few beers, with this soup in hand. It was amazing and for a moment it felt like real fall. I’ve been scouring the internet for a recipe remotely similar and after a few twitter convo’s back and forth with someone who updates the @SeldelaTerre feed we are now in negotiation for the real recipe. If I don’t get it, I think I am going to try a version of the following:
- 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl oz)
- 1 (12-oz) bottle ale such Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada or Harpoon pale ale
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lb grated Gruyère
- 4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled (optional)
Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating water, then lift out leeks and drain in a colander. Get the dirt out!
Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf.
To make the beer foam you need:
- 1 Cold pale ale beer
- Immersion Blender
- 1 gram of Lecithin
In a cup, combine 1/2 of the cold beer, sprinkle in the lecithin, and blend with the immersion blender. The foam will begin to form and the lecithin acts as a stabilizer, keeping the foam intact. Drink the rest of the beer.
Dollop the foam on top of the soup and serve with grilled sourdough points drizzled with truffle oil.
If you decided to try this out, I hope you like it. I plan to give it a shot this weekend, so I cannot attest to the complete accuracy nor amazingness that this recipe may or may not offer. It does however sound very close to the flavors I enjoyed. As a side note, I would strain the soup and serve it as a creamy, fluid, puree without the vegetable chunks. Good luck!
Thanks for reading! xo-G