116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
During my career as a sommelier in Las Vegas, I developed two serious love affairs. First, my affection for soup. It’s so strong that my beautiful best friend, Trish, made a show-stopping joke during her maid of honor speech at my wedding. It went something like this: “Well… you know KRISTA LOVES SOUP!” Cue the laughter, applause, and my embarrassment. She even sent a friend who was visiting from San Diego into my wine store, SOMM Wines in Fairfield, and coaxed her into asking me, “Do you have any soup?” I replied instantly, “No, do you have some?” Again, cue the laughter, applause, and embarrassment.
The other love of my life is Old World wines. I adore everything about them. The white wines dazzle with refreshing acidity and riverbed minerality. The red wines boast a wide-shoulder structure and salt-of-the-Earth authenticity. Combining my love of Old World wines and the featured soup recipe may feel like a match made in heaven, but this partnership does not come easily. As with many relationships, one participant is playing hard to get — in this case, it’s the asparagus.
In season from April through June, asparagus is widely known in the sommelier community as incredibly hard to pair with wines. Although packed with nutrients like folic acid and vitamins C, K, and E, the stalks also contain high levels of chlorophyll, which can bring out a bitter metallic taste with higher-acidity wines. The secondary flavors of this recipe, shiitake mushrooms and cream, add another layer of needed expertise to this wine pairing. My years of collective wine knowledge steer me in one delicious direction: Sancerre.
Sancerre, a smaller AOC (designation of origin and quality) within the larger wine region of Loire Valley, France, produces wines made from only two varietals. The white Sauvignon Blanc and red Pinot Noir, from which rosé wine can also be made. The Sauvignon Blancs are slightly herbal, bursting with citrus flavor, and have a more mature, fuller body, making them ideal for our soup recipe. Their rich fruit concentration and bold weight on the palate keep that metallic taste at bay!
The soil beneath Sancerre allows us to incorporate the cream element of this recipe. Sancerre shares a portion of the chalky soil that runs from the White Cliffs of Dover through Champagne, then Chablis, and on to Sancerre. This chalky soil creates a luscious, enveloped mouthfeel. My favorite Sancerre and pairing for this soup, Elisa Gueneau, “Les Griottes,” Sancerre, France 2020 ($35.99), is made from the single vineyard named after the cherry trees that once stood there. Now, 35-year-old vines thrive above calcareous soil. This rich chalky rock infusion is also very conducive to the shiitake mushroom element. Known for their meaty, earthy characteristics, shiitake mushrooms add a layer of complexity to this already soil-driven soup. For those of you looking for the perfect marriage of soup and wine, consider yourself served.
Yield: 8 servings
6 tablespoons onion, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/3 cups zucchini, sliced thin
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
5 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 tablespoons ground almonds, see note
2/3 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Note: You can use almond butter for ground almonds. If you don’t have it, grind slivered almonds in a spice grinder or chop small and grind with a mortar and pestle.
Saute onions in butter until soft. Add zucchini and slivered almonds. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes (zucchini should not be barely tender, not limp). Add chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Add ground almonds. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cream, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat thoroughly.
Recipe nutrition information: Per serving: 134 calories; 8 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 20 g cholesterol; 5 g protein; 8 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 218 mg sodium; 21 mg calcium
Source: Adapted from “Marshall Field’s Gourmet: A Taste of Tradition”
Yield: 8 servings
2 1/2 cups red beets, peeled and chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups chopped fennel
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped ginger
8 cups vegetable stock, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fennel sprigs
Combine beets, cabbage, fennel, garlic, ginger and 6 cups of the stock in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
Strain the soup through a large-mesh sieve. Puree the vegetables in 1 cup of the heated broth in a food processor or blender until smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Add the remaining heated broth, and blend. If the soup is not of a pourable consistency, add some of the remaining 2 cups of broth until it reaches your desired texture.
Chill at least 2 hours before serving. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in chilled bowls, if desired, with yogurt and fennel sprigs.
Recipe nutrition information: Per serving: 60 calories; 1 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 1 g cholesterol; 3 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 8 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 756 mg sodium; 51 mg calcium
Source: Adapted from “Healthy Cooking” by At Home with the Culinary Institute of America
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 (1-inch) slices sweet red bell pepper
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
4 cups chicken, ham or vegetable stock
2 cups frozen or fresh peas
Salt, to taste
Crispy bacon, optional
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add stock and simmer 5 minutes. Add peas and cook until peas are heated through, 1 minute for frozen and 3 to 5 minutes for fresh. Add salt to taste. Puree in a blender until smooth. Serve with croutons and crumbled bacon, if desired.
Recipe nutrition information: Per serving: 198 calories; 7 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 5 g cholesterol; 7 g protein; 29 g carbohydrate; 13 g sugar; 7 g fiber; 1,355 mg sodium; 49 mg calcium
Source: Adapted from “Vita-Mix Recipes for Better Living”