Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Soup For You! (Just the Recipe)…

One of the most memorable characters from Jerry Seinfeld’s sit-com was the infamous Soup Nazi, who sold the best soup in New York, but whose clearly posted ordering rules were so strict, that if you did not precisely abide by them, there would be “no soup for you!” even though you could well have been waiting in line for over two hours.

Portrayed so well on the small screen by actor Larry Thomas, that he was nominated for a 1996 Emmy for the role, the character was based on Al Yeganeh, an actual New York restauranteur. The long lines and his short fuse, at his midtown Manhattan “Soup Kitchen International,” located at 259A West 55th Street, near 8th Avenue, have made him an area institution. The place would close during the summer, with a sign posted outside that simply said that the chef was in "Argentina for the summer." The original location is now closed and Mr. Yeganeh has a 1,000 store franchise is in the works.

If the soups are worthy of the amount of abuse endured by patrons of the Soup Kitchen, then they certainly deserve to be shared with the world. Here are a couple of his coveted recipes…

Soup Nazi Crab Bisque (as deciphered by Todd Wilbur of Top Secret Recipes)

This is the soup that Jerry orders in the show and it’s the most requested Soup Nazi recipe.

4 pounds snow crab clusters (legs)
4 quarts water (16 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, quartered
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons half and half
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1. Remove all the crab meat from the shells and set it aside.

2. Put half of the shells into a large pot with 4 quarts of water over high heat. Add the onion, 1 stalk of chopped celery, and the garlic, then bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to boil for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (The white part of the shells will start to become transparent), then strain the stock. Discard the shells, onion, celery and garlic, keeping only the stock.

3. Measure 3 quarts (12 cups) of the stock into a large sauce pan or cooking pot. If you don't have enough stock, add enough water to make 3 quarts.

4. Add the potatoes and bring the mixture to a boil, then add 1/2 of the crab and the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring it back to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours, until it reduces by about half and starts to thicken. Add the remaining crab and simmer for another hour until the soup is very thick.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Soup Nazi Cream of Sweet Potato Soup

4 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound each)
8 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash thyme
1 cup cashews (split in half)

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45 minutes or until they are soft. Cool the potatoes until they can be handled.

2. Peel away the skin, then put the potatoes into a large bowl. Mash for 15-20 seconds, but don't mash them until they are entirely smooth.

3. Spoon the mashed sweet potatoes into a large saucepan over medium/high heat, add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.

4. When the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 50-60 minutes. The cashews should be soft. Serve hot and garnish with more cashews, more half and half or sour cream and chives, cilantro, or parsley.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Now, move to the EXTREME left!