Several years ago, I took a series of cooking classes at an adult education center, which featured local chefs from the Boston area. One of my favorite classes was taught by Marjorie Druker, chef and owner of The New England Soup Factory. She made several delicious soups and shared some fabulous cooking tips with us.
Some of my favorite takeaways include:
- Always saute your vegetables first! And let them caramelize because it adds a whole new dimension of flavor to your soup.
- Cook your pasta or rice separately and add it to the individual soup bowls - that prevents it from overcooking or turning mushy.
- Reserve a few handfuls of raw ingredients (chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, green onion, etc) and add them at the very end so you get a mix of cooked and raw flavors and textures.
- Never skimp on cookware. You'll never get good caramelization or a sear with cheap pans. She highly recommended Costco's Kirkland brand as a comparable option to All-Clad. Who knew?
When I stumbled upon the New England Soup Factory Cookbook at a bookstore a few years later, I knew it would be a staple in my kitchen. One of my favorite recipes from the book is this Black Bean, Habanero Chile, and Yellow Rice Soup. It's full of Caribbean flavors and I make it every winter when I crave some Caribbean warmth and flavor. This is her recipe with a few minor modifications.
Black Bean, Habanero Chile and Yellow Rice Soup
- 3 Tbs olive oil divided
- 1 ½ cup chopped onion divided
- ¾ cup jasmine rice
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch of saffron or turmeric
- 2 15 ounce cans low sodium black beans drained and rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 10 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 32 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 cup sherry
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 small habanero pepper seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 bunch scallions chopped, for garnish
- For the rice: Heat a 3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add ½ cup of the chopped onion, and saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes more.
- Add the water, salt, and saffron.
- Bring to a boil, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to low.
- Cook the rice for 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed, and rice is fluffy. Set the rice aside.
- For the soup: Heat a stockpot over medium-high heat.
- Add the remaining olive oil, onion, celery, and garlic
- Saute, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.
- Add the beans, stock, tomatoes, coriander and sherry.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
- Add cilantro, habanero pepper, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- To serve, add a scoop of rice to each bowl, ladel the soup over, and garnish each bowl with scallions.
Have you ever been to the New England Soup Factory?