Monday, December 06, 2004

The Real Man's Cream of Beer Soup

Before there were metrosexuals, there were the Quiche Eaters.

In the 1980s, humorist Bruce Fierstein wrote a book that identified a subset of the American male. Essentially a backlash of the women's movement, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche decried the development of a "fake" male, wussified by continually catering to the so-called "liberated" female, "sensitive" to his own emotions -- in short, what we today would identify as the metrosexual.

Fierstein, however, identified this class based on a culinary preference: this type of male (as personified by Alan Alda, Dick Van Patten, Hugh Grant, etc.) had a preference for quiche, that French-derived egg-custard savory pie. In his own way, Fierstein anticipated the development of the the 21st-century Man Industry, as embodied by Hooters, Maxim Magazine, etc.

Fierstein's book was sucessful enough that a sequel was demanded. This time around, he teamed up with Scott Redman. Real Men Don't Cook Quiche was a cookbook featuring the humor of Fierstein woven around a selection of basic recipes. While some of them are doubtful, others work quite well. "Cream of Beer Soup" is one of the latter.

Note that while the recipe uses beer, cabbage is actually the main component. I made this soup recently in order to use up half a head of cabbage I had left over from making New England Boiled Dinner. (Note to cookbook authors: in winter there is no such thing as a small head of cabbage.) It works pretty well when accompanied by bread and butter, for a light meal.

I've modified the recipe a bit. The original calls for just salt and pepper as seasonings, but caraway seeds go well with cabbage, so I added that. I also had some potatoes left over, so they went in as well. The thing about soups is that, since they're boiled, you can add ingredients without worrying about burning; and if you simmer for longer than what the recipe calls for, no one will really notice.

This will make enough for 6 people as an appetizer, or 4 people as a light meal with bread and rolls.

Cream of Beer Soup

3 tbsp. butter
2 medium or 1 large onion, minced
1/2 head cabbage, cored and shredded
2 cans condensed chicken broth
2-3 cans or bottles beer
salt and pepper to taste
caraway seeds
2-3 large potatoes (optional)
1/2 pint heavy cream

1. In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
2. Add the onion and cabbage. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to coat the cabbage with the melted butter, until the vegetables are soft.
3. Pour in the chicken broth and 2 cans of beer. Season with salt, pepper and caraway seeds.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. After 50 minutes, the cabbage should be tender enough that you can purée the soup with a stick blender. If the puréed soup seems too thick, you can thin it out to a desired consistency by stirring in the required amount of the third can or bottle of beer.
6. If you're using the potatoes, add them in at this time and let the soup simmer for at least another 10 minutes.
7. Five minutes before serving, stir in the heavy cream.


At 12:29 a.m., Blogger Johnny Nobody said...

Can I leave the cabbage out? It's not as if I don't like cabbage. But the beer soup I grew up on didn't have it, and this is definitely a better recipe, but I'd like to leave it out all the same.....Will the consistency be the same?

At 8:59 a.m., Blogger VW said...

The consistency won't be the same, unfortunately, if you leave the cabbage out. The fibers of the cabbage add body to the soup when you purée it.

However, you can substitute. Half a head of iceberg lettuce would work, and lettuce has a milder flavor than cabbage. Another substitute would be 5 to 6 sticks of celery, chopped up (but then you could cut the initial cooking time down about 10 minutes). (Note that with these substitutions, you can leave out the caraway seeds.)

At 3:26 p.m., Blogger Johnny Nobody said...

I think I'll go with the celery. Sounds good. Thanks!


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