. The Brooklyn Cookery Experience Seriously Soupy

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Brooklyn Cookery Experience

Ribollita made at Brooklyn Cookery - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Students at the Brooklyn Cookery - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography

Soup Talk - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Straining the Vegetables for the Stock - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
When I started Seriously Soupy in October of 2009, I never (and I mean never!) would have thought that I would love soup making (or soup experimenting as much as a do). I never tout myself as an expert or a chef but just someone who has loved learned about how to cook better as well as how to cook with new ingredients and learn new techniques. Another part of this experience has been the exciting opportunities to attend events, guest blogging, and most recently teaching a class about soup making at Brooklyn Cookery. This monthly home-based cooking school run by Emily and Sweet Joy is a relaxed and educational forum where guest chef's (and the ladies themselves) teach about simple, seasonal, and affordable menus ranging from how to make pasta, tapas, and wine, to an upcoming cocktail class (sorry, that one is sold-out) and a soup and bread-making workshop. Having known about the class for over a month (in the mist of the holiday madness), I knew that I would be making a basic vegetable broth, a ribollita, and a chrizo and kale soup. Since these were all recipes that I have mastered on Soupy, I felt confident that they tasted good but I was very nervous about the actual teaching part - hence why I take the blogging route. Learning about the origins of ribollita helped take some of the mystery out of this Tuscan soup, which I learned was traditionally prepared in three steps or that broccoli and kale are probably not the best ingredients to use when making broth - interesting tidbits that I often overlook as I experiment with recipes.

Soupy Ingredients - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Rachael S. Mamane talking about beef and chicken stock - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Dough - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Jeff's homemade bread - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
I prepared the vegetable broth ahead of time as well as soaked of the beans overnight (thank you Sweet Joy) for the ribollita. After a brief discussion about vegetable broth, I enlisted Rachael S. Mamane of Brooklyn Bouillon to talk to the class about how to prepare meat and chicken stocks. Her passion for cooking is obvious as she emphasized that beef stock generally take over 12 hours to prepare and that chicken stock (which takes about three hours) and also requires skimming of the impurities. We then talked about ribollta and the class got to work chopping up the vegetables (the only tedious part of making soups). While that was cooking, Jeff, a bread enthusiast, discussed bread making and how it is actually easy to prepare. Demonstrating how to prepare, I was amazed just how simple it was. Since we were making baguettes, a handy Non-Stick Baguette Pan was used - allowing air to circulate during the baking process. The result was a crisp and delicious piece of bread. Jeff also experimented with bread-making and placed some dough topped with fresh rosemary in Sweet Joy's fire - resulting in a delicious homemade flatbread that complimented perfectly with truffle butter, olive oil and herb butter! The chrizo was up next - another simple recipe that essentially involves cooking the potatoes and heating the chrizo and some delicious flavors (hello, red pepper flakes!).

Bread experiment - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Jeff teaching us about bread - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
Chopping away - Image Credit: Alicia Hansen Photography
The whole experience went by so quick - a whirlwind of learning about bread and frantically flavoring the soup and chopping up vegetables that (I think) was a fun experience for everyone involved. Not only an experience about making and eating soup and bread, Brooklyn Cookery was an open and friendly atmosphere to meet new friends and talk about anything from food to kids to the impending snowstorm. There was wine and cheese and of course bread that we happily devoured and even some dough that we were able to take home to try this bread making experiment for ourselves. A community of learning, food and friends that not only allows students to take home recipes -- but filled our bellies, minds and souls. 

Images by: Alicia Hansen Photography

To learn more about Brooklyn Cookery, please visit: http://brooklyncookery.blogspot.com/

The Recipes:
Vegetable Stock Recipe

8-10 cups of water, approx.
Bunch of dill
3-5 stalks of scallions, chopped up

1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped up

cloves of garlic
5-6 red and white potatoes, chopped up

1 head of broccoli

1 zucchini, chopped up
2-3 carrots, chopped up

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

Other ingredients for vegetable broth:


Corn (right on the cob)


Sweet potatoes
green beans
fresh herbs


Add eight to 10 cups of water to a large pot and let boil. Cut up vegetables of your choice (skins and all), and add them to the boiling water. Consider some fresh herbs and pepper to flavor your stock. Cover the stock and place on a low flame, letting it cook for two to three hours. Check on it periodically to taste and stir. Turn off flame and strain veggies in a soup strainer (veggies can also be used for another soup). Freezer half or use your stock for soup! Enjoy.

Ribollita (Bread Soup)


2 cups of Northern white beans, soaked (or one 15-oz can of Northern white beans)

6 cups of water, approximately

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 15-ounce can of organic stewed tomato sauce (or 2-4 fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 zucchini, cut up

1 bunch of dark kale, cut up

2-3 stalks of carrots, cut up

2-3 stalks of celery, cut up 
1/2 red onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced
bunch of fresh basil, chopped up
bunch of fresh rosemary, chopped up
bunch of fresh thyme, chopped up

1 tablespoon of bread crumbs 

Crunchy Italian or French bread, cut up into small squares
parmesan cheese (for top of soup)

salt and pepper

Soak the white beans for 3-4 hours. When ready to cook, add 2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a slight boil. Cut up the onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic and them to the pot, along with some olive oil. Let cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, beans, rosemary, thyme and the rest of the water and cover. Let cook for an hour (checking and stirring the soup periodically). After an hour (or so), add the bread crumbs and kale and let cook for another 5 minutes. Cut up the bread into small squares and add them to the soup. Serve and top with parmesan cheese (optional).

Chrizo-and-Kale Soup
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped up
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
5 waxy potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale (12 ounces), stemmed and shredded
12 ounces chrizo, cut into 1/2-inch half moons

In a large pot (6 to 8 quarts), heat oil over medium. Add onion and cook until soft, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add potatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add kale and sausage. Simmer until kale is wilted, 10 to 15 minutes.

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