Here's a soup invention I'll never be able to re-create.
We had our wedding outdoors on Cape Cod in the Fall. We hired a friend as caterer, but if we had a theme for our wedding it was that we, and our close friends and family, all made things for the wedding (invitiation, dress, cake, flowers, centerpieces, etc.) Short story, our "theme" was saving money. I decided that in the Fall we needed soup.
I figured something had to be vegetarian, but I don't do veggie very well so I pretty much followed a recipe and came up with a sort of minestrone/pasta "fazhool" that everyone liked.
For the other, I figured that on the Cape I needed seafood. I couldn't afford to make lobster bisque for everyone (and after all, not everyone likes lobster
) and I knew I couldn't make a clam chowder that would be the best everyone
had ever tasted. So I came up with a seafood bisque/chowder.
I used two bases. One was the lobster bisque from Howard Mitcham's "Provincetown Seafood Cookbook" (possibly the touchstone of Lower Cape seafood cooking). The other was fish stock from Bernard Clayton, Jr.'s "The Complete Book of Soups and Stews." At the time, I lived near Legal Sea Foods main processing plant and retail store and had a source for legitimate seafood, although I think I bought the lobsters on sale out of the tank at the pretty new Star Market. I know I had clams and two kinds of fish filets. Knowing me, one had to be Haddock or Cod (the kings of chowder fish) but I think the other was something odd and maybe not native to New England. Something the fish guys at Legal said was great chowder fish.
Beyond that, it's kind of a fog. My Mother-in-Law was staying with us at the time and decorating the cake (it's the one with ivy trailing up the tiers that was on the cover of Gourmet magazine in the late 80s or early 90s). The cat was due for his shots and when I walked in with bags 'o fish he was hauled out. Boy! was he p.o.'d. I was kind of thinking maybe I could slip out for a cigar, like maybe to Havana.
I do know that I had about three gallons of stock in my two biggest stockpots and had a hell of a time figuring out how to strain them out so I could use the pots to proceed with making soup. I know my vegetable base had leeks, and I used the greens in the fish stock. There may have been shallots and/or onions in the base, as well. I probably used potatoes and might have put the peels in the fish broth. It's possible corn was involved, as you can sometimes still get fresh corn in our area in October.
Somehow I came up with two large pots of simmering mixed broth and veggies. I know I added a pinch of saffron, as a touch of saffron helps bring out lobster flavor (but too much overwhelms it). Then I layed the filets on top and cooked them until they would break, then the clams.
I froze it all and froze the lobster meat seperately. I instructed the caterer to defrost the soup in her cauldron, add the lobster, then cream.
To this day, people ask me for the recipe.