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Hot Stuff: Soups and Stews

What is it about soups and stews, those one-bowl wonders, that makes them such perennial favorites? They’re the ultimate "slow food," simmered until the compatible flavors are comfortably married and the ingredients have reached their most delectable textures. Whether soups should be smooth or chunky, steamy or chilled, is a matter of tradition and taste.

Mad 4 You, a 150-seat Mediterranean bistro in Beachwood (suburban Cleveland), Ohio, also features a gourmet food store, gift baskets and a carry-out menu. Executive chef Chris Feuerborn’s menu encompasses the cuisines of France, Spain, Italy and Greece. This month, he shares his recipe for Oxtail Stew. We’re also providing other stew ideas, including Autumn Lamb Stew, a coffee-enriched Beef Stew, and Moroccan Vegetable Ragout.

Seasonal soups and stews offer a variety of menu possibilities. At Icarus in Boston, the autumn menu featured Roast Pumpkin Soup with Fontina Crostini and Truffle Oil. At Zitoune in New York City, chef/owner Alain Bennouna’s winter menu focuses on Moroccan flavors, and features such warming appetizers as a traditional harira–beef soup served with saffron scrambled egg.

At North Pond in Chicago, the menu has been designed around products grown or raised in their native environments and offered in season, at their peak. Chef/partner Bruce Sherman offers his Sweet Onion Soup recipe. In addition, you’ll find more regionally inspired soup ideas on the following pages. Look for Southwestern Tomato Cream Soup, Tortilla Soup with Wisconsin Queso Quesadilla, California Avocado-Spiked Corn Soup, and Alaska Cod Chowder with Black Beans and Corn. The seasonal flavors of the Potato, Pear and Leek Soup also offer intriguing menu possibilities.

Full-flavored foods are big with today’s customers, so you’ll want to check out executive chef Mohinder Singh’s recipe from India’s in Denver, too. The Lamb and Potato Vindaloo is cooked in a spicy, hot gravy. These ideas and others on the following pages can help you create new taste-tempting winter specialties.

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