Soup And Suds

October 18, 1992|By Marlene Sorosky | Marlene Sorosky,Contributing Writer

Democrats, Republicans and Perotites, if your entertaining has slipped into a recession, here's an idea that won't increase inflation or cause a deficit in your budget. Gather all your social supporters on election night and form your own political party.

Declare your celebration by sending a flag, ballot, campaign button or elephant and donkey sticker to your constituents. When they arrive, ask them to cast ballots projecting the electoral college count at a specific time in the evening. Reward the winner with a CD of "Elephant Walk," "Donkey Serenade" or a rousing version of "Stars and Stripes" forever.

To feed the spirit as well as the bodies, there is nothing more hearty than a selection of soups and suds. Depending on the number of political supporters at your rally, you can serve one, two or three different soups -- tortilla crab, smoked turkey, broccoli and black bean, or Portuguese sausage and cabbage with sun-dried tomato rouille. Unlike some political candidates, none of them will cause much controversy -- although there may be preferences. And for the suds, include a selection of foreign and domestic beers, with some light and non-alcoholic varieties. Many liquor stores will assist you in putting together an array of popular and unusual brews.

Each of these full-bodied, main-dish soups makes a perfect party partner. They can be made and simmered in about an hour, can be refrigerated or frozen ahead, and can sit on the stove over low heat virtually unattended throughout the party. And don't fret over a shortage of soup bowls. Just dig out your new, old and seldom-used coffee mugs, or borrow some from friends, and ask guests to rinse them out between courses.

I like to serve dishes like the tortilla crab soup with help-yourself-condiments. That way guests can add their own spice with additional jalapenos, creaminess with cheese and avocados, crunch with baked tortilla strips and flavor with chopped cilantro. The base of the soup is wonderfully rich and thick with tomatoes, corn, lime and a sprinkling of cumin. The heat is determined by the amount of jalapenos you add. If you don't like it hot, use the smaller amount. Because bottled pickled jalapenos are more consistent in their heat, I prefer using them to fresh. Just throw them into the processor, seeds and all. If there is a vegetarian in the crowd, simply omit the crab from a portion of the soup. It is sensational even without it.

When I lived in Southern California, I often would go to George's Restaurant at the Cove in La Jolla to devour a bowl of their fabulous smoked turkey, broccoli and black bean soup. Now that I live in Baltimore and they've shared their recipe with me, I keep a batch in my freezer for whenever I'm homesick. There is nothing like a great bowl of soup to warm one's heart and soul. The original recipe uses 2 cups of heavy cream, but I've cut it back to 1. If you need to cut fat and cholesterol further, the soup will taste all right made with low-fat (2-percent) milk, but the color will be slightly gray.

If you're looking for a potage that tastes as if it's been cooking all day, but in reality simmers only 30 minutes, you'll be delighted with Portuguese sausage and cabbage soup with sun-dried tomato rouille. The broth is lightly seasoned so each diner can add a spoonful of the very spicy and garlicky rouille to taste. In French, rouille means rust, and that aptly describes the hue of this pungent, pureed sauce. The soup improves in flavor when allowed to mellow in the refrigerator overnight.

Add some rolls, bread or bread sticks, and your entree is complete. For dessert, keep it simple with a selection of cookies, or supplement them with a make-your-own yogurt sundae buffet.

And when the party's over and the ballots have been tallied, regardless of the political affiliation of your guests, the one thing everyone will agree upon is that your soup and suds party was the most memorable event of the 1992 campaign.

Smoked turkey, broccoli

# and black bean soup

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Advance prep: Refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze.

Makes 6 servings.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup peeled diced broccoli stems (from 1 medium head)

1/2 cup chopped carrots (2 medium)

1/2 cup chopped onion ( 1/2 onion)

1/2 cup chopped celery (2 medium ribs)

2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled

2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled

1/2 cup dry white wine or imported dry vermouth

5 cups chicken broth

2 cups broccoli florets

1 can (16 ounces) black beans, drained

8 ounces smoked turkey or chicken, chopped into 1/2 -inch dice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch

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