Dress Up Your Soup

Whether it’s a steady downpour, a constant drizzle, or a fine mist, this damp weather calls for warm, nourishing soup. Soup alone can inspire gratitude and, ’round these parts, maybe a hug, but with a few simple add-ons, one just might elicit gasps of amazement and high praise.  And I love me some high praise, especially when it comes with a minimum of effort.

These cheese crisps are incredibly easy and quick. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, grate a half to one cup of parmesan or pecorino romano cheese on the smaller grate size.  Pile in heaping tablespoons on a baking sheet (on top of a silpat sheet if you have one), making sure to leave about 2-3 inches space between the mounds.  Dust with your choice of spice – smoky paprika is nice, or cayenne, or cracked black pepper.  Let the type of soup these will accompany inspire you.  Bake in the oven for approximately 7 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and golden.  Remove from oven, let cool, and then use a spatula to peel them off the sheet.

A pistou is essentially a pesto without nuts, and for the soup topping above, I made it with roughly a half cup of parsley, two cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Process in a mini-food processor or grind it all up in a mortar and pestle until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  This is also nice served on just about any protein, or as a bright and pungent topping on bread.

Each of these toppings requires a preparation time of five minutes, max. I suppose I could have spent those ten minutes the other night changing out of sweatpants and into real people clothes, but it was so much more appealing to fancify my soup than myself.  And sweatpants and soup on a rainy weeknight? Ne’er the twain shall part.