Mystery Soup

Sometime last week, I realized I haven’t seen one of my best friends in 6 months. It’d be one thing if this was someone who lived far away, but it isn’t, and that’s just unacceptable. Especially considering the amount of life we’ve both been through in the past six months.

After a few texts, we decided to get together and make dinner. But we didn’t want to make plans, so the plan was to see what was in my fridge and make food with it. The final text warned me that she would bring “mystery ingredients”.

Those mystery ingredients turned out to be a pepper, some tomatoes, and a box of pasta. After some panicked running around, we finally got to cooking. Protip: don’t leave your debit card in the ATM. Thankfully, ATMs tend to eat forgotten debit cards these days. So its just an inconvenience and not actually a problem.

First, we removed a bunch of things from my fridge. Apologies for the mess. Not really, I’m human.

With a lot of food and a hungry sourdough starter sitting out on the counter, we set about figuring out what to make.

No worries, we weren’t going to put sourdough starter in anything. It just needed feeding – that thick dark layer on top of it is alcohol because the yeast has started fermenting instead of … feeding, I guess. More on that some other time, or in this older post.

We threw out the idea of pasta sauce right away. It just seemed too obvious. The next thought was to find something to do with soba noodles – that package in the back left of the photo? Its about 3 pounds of soba noodles. I’m set for a while.

I’m also not that familiar with things to do with soba noodles, except putting them in soup. So we decided to make a soba noodle soup.

After a consideration of the ingredients at hand, we decided to start it like a chowder or bisque – with a roux. And what’s the best way to start a roux?

Bacon!

I started cooking bacon while my friend prepared the peppers and tomatoes for roasting on my lovely cast iron pan.

Once the bacon was done, I pulled out the bacon, left the grease, and added some flour to start the roux. Added the rest of a carton of milk and the rest of a carton of heavy cream, and started selecting things at random to add to the soup. Well, not entirely at random, we went based on things we thought would taste good with the soup.

Around this point, I also forgot to take any more pictures, apparently. This may or may not have had something to do with the fact that soup turned out so good, for such a random soup. In fact, I believe the exact words when we first tasted the soup was “shut the fun bus!” or maybe it was “shut the full cup!”

I know, that wasn’t very descriptive, but I should really just let the recipe speak for itself. All measurements are approximate.

Mystery Soup

Ingredients:
1 bell pepper
2 tomatoes
Olive oil
Coarse sea salt
1/2 pound of bacon
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup Trader Joes boxed tomato soup
1/2 cup Kirkland Signature (Costco) lobster bisque
1 sprig of thyme
2 anchovies
1 scoop dijon mustard
Dash of garlic powder
  1. Turn oven on to 400 degrees. It doesn’t need to preheat, persay, but may as well get it started.
  2. Slice tomato and pepper into long thin strips. Arrange in a single layer on an oven-safe pan – cast iron preferred. Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.
  3. Put pan in oven, allow to roast through the rest of the cooking process. The peppers and tomatoes should be soft and browned in spots when they are removed.
  4. Put a large pot on the stove on medium heat. Slice bacon into bite-sized pieces or smaller, and fry on the bottom of the pot until cooked to your preference.
  5. Remove bacon, leave grease in pot. Feel free to nibble on the bacon while cooking. Yes, you probably should have cooked more bacon.
  6. Add flour to the pot and stir until combined. Add milk and heavy cream, keep stirring, until thickened. (It doesn’t make sense, I know, but suddenly it will be a lot thicker than it was.)
  7. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, including the bacon. Stir until well heated, well combined, anchovies have disappeared, etc.
  8. Remove the now roasted tomatoes and peppers from the oven and add to soup.
  9. Serve with bread. Yum!
Feel free to add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. The point of this for us was experimentation, a stone soup sort of thing. No reason you can’t try that too!
And congratulations to those of you who noticed that the soba noodles didn’t make it in to the final recipe.