Fare Exchage: On the hunt for tomato soup

Fare Exchage: On the hunt for tomato soup

September 21st, 2011 in Life Entertainment

Good morning, good readers. We're hot on the trail of a certain cake, a restaurant soup and an end-of-tomato-season soup: cold-oven pound cake, The Cheesecake Factory's cream of chicken soup and fresh tomato and (fresh) basil soup.

Diane Haidari asked for a broad spectrum of help in finding a certain cake recipe. "I would love any variation on this recipe. I had an aunt who would bake a cold-oven pound cake. It was so wonderfully dense in texture and thoroughly vanilla in aroma and taste. I do recall 'a preheated oven, place cake inside, close oven, turn off heat.' "

Sharon Beck wrote, "I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy Fare Exchange and have gotten many favorite recipes from there. I would like to find a recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup like they serve at The Cheesecake Factory ... it has potatoes and other veggies in it ... and is delicious."

The final request came from an anonymous reader who has just tasted the best tomato basil soup of her life. She's got the tomatoes and the basil, but she wants to invest in the best possible recipe for same.

Amy Fowler's email bore this hopeful subject line: "Boat House Slaw." And indeed she has a tip, but not the real thing. "I did ask a waitress at the restaurant what type of dressing they used. Apparently, all have been sworn to secrecy because all she would share with me was that it is a fish-stock base. Just thought I would share that with you in hopes someone may be able to come close to their recipe." So come closer, experimental cooks. I don't think I would have ever thought of fish stock as the secret ingredient in slaw, which is one of our favorite salads.

Gwendolyn Meraz shared with you last year her favorite recipe for chicken and dumplings, a dish her family prepares every year on her late mother's birthday, to celebrate her life. This year Mrs. Meraz, with two little boys in tow, decided to use her slow cooker for the birthday dish. And this was the successful recipe. The recipe explained that "the secret to perfect dumplings is not to overmix the batter, and to drop the batter onto very hot, bubbling liquid. That way the dumplings begin cooking immediately and don't get soggy. The last time I made this, I used baby bella mushrooms and added some dried basil and thyme to the dumplings, and it worked well."

Crock-Pot Chicken and Dumplings

Prep time: 25 minutes. Cook time: 8 hours.

1 potato, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, sliced

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

14-ounce can ready-to-serve chicken broth

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces

9 ounces frozen baby peas

11/2 cups homemade biscuit mix (use the baking mix below, if desired)

1 tablespoon snipped chives

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a 4-quart slow cooker, mix potato, carrots, onion, garlic and mushrooms. In medium bowl, combine chicken broth, flour, salt and pepper and mix until smooth. Pour over vegetables in slow cooker. Add chicken.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until chicken is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink in center. Add peas and cover again. Cook on high for 20 minutes until peas are hot.

In a small bowl combine baking mix with chives, milk and melted butter, and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.

Drop dumplings by tablespoons onto hot, bubbling chicken mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 20 to 25 minutes until dumplings are cooked through, fluffy and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes 4 servings.

Dumpling Mix

11/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon snipped chives

6 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and chives in a small bowl. Melt butter and mix with milk; add to flour mixture and stir just until combined.

The next recipe came as a result of our discussion of feta and artichokes with pasta. Yeast of the Ridge found this on the Web and thought it seemed well nigh irresistible.

Meyer Lemon Pesto and Feta Pasta With Shrimp

1 pound pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/4 cup white wine or broth

1 batch Meyer lemon pesto (recipe follows)

1/2 cup feta cheese

Cook pasta as directed. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Add the shrimp and cook until done, 2 to 3 minutes per side, and set aside. Add white wine or broth, and deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, and mix in the pesto.

Mix the feta into the pesto and toss with the pasta to coat.

Meyer Lemon Pesto

1 Meyer lemon (cut into pieces and seeded)

1/2 cup basil, packed

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup Parmigiano reggiano (grated)

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a food processor, and blend. Makes 1 cup.

Both the dumplings and the pasta dish seem at first to be complicated. Not so. A simple dumpling mix can be made mighty fast, and the pesto is simply a matter (after you have gathered the ingredients) of turning on one's food processor. In fact, both meals seem wonderfully hearty, worthy of a birthday celebration.

One of my favorite people in all of history was Chattanooga's Dr. Eleanor Stafford, and when her May birthday came around she demurred when a celebration was mentioned because "every day is my birthday." And so today there is somebody to celebrate, birthday or no. Let's get cooking.

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

  • Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.
  • E-mail: janehenegar@gmail.com.
  • Fax: 423-668-5092.