Thursday, November 1, 2012

Seven Minutes in Heaven

So did you survive Halloween? Are you candied out today? If so, you should whip up this soup for supper tonight. And I do mean whip it up, as in "in a jiffy." It's called 7-Minute Soup. I may or may not have played the game Seven Minutes in Heaven when I was a teenager, but when I saw this recipe I thought I would actually be in heaven in seven minutes if it were really true. 

I live in a neighborhood where kids basically bus in to trick-or-treat and people totally trick their houses out, looking like set designs for big-budget Hollywood horror movies. I easily go through 20 lbs of candy on Halloween. I usually invite a few friends over to help with the candy distribution as it can get pretty intense at times. But it's tough to have a sit down meal when the doorbell is constantly ringing with clever and adorable costumed kids waiting to dig their hands into an enormous bowl of candy. 

As the 85 degree weather cooled down to a pleasant 67 last night, I thought soup and salad may be a good option to fuel my fellow candy dealers. I also thought it would be easy to make (in only take seven minutes) ahead of time and reheat and serve when the crew got ready to eat, but would also stand up to the interruptions of trick-or-treaters. Plus, I'm a competitive dork so I had to see if it could really be made in seven minutes.

OK, first of all, here are the basic ingredients, which are all off the shelf. You essentially take prepared foods, blend them together to make soup and add some lovely garnishes. I know it's called 7-Minute Soup, but it should actually be called Cheater's Soup or Lazy Man's Soup. I'm certainly not going to complain about that because, in truth, that's my kind of cooking—as long as it's good. If it's fast and easy but tastes like crap, I won't eat it—and I certainly wouldn't serve it to friends.

Therefore the first test was can I really find food heaven in seven minutes? In truth, it took me 9 minutes and 27 seconds to make the soup.

But, I think if you had all the food prepped and didn't take pictures for a blog, you could definitely hit the 7 minute mark, which is kind of incredible! I wanted to be more realistic and start the timer from scratch, but let's be honest, if you can whip up a soup in less than 10 minutes, you're going to be fist-bumping me. Let's not squabble over details. A 9 minute and 27 second soup is ridiculous. Rachel Ray and her (fake) 30 minute meals can stuff it. 

That brings us to the second test: palatability. No matter how fast or easy it may be to make, is this even worthy of eating? Well, let me assure you, I'm very picky. I would rather starve than eat a bad meal. If something doesn't taste good, I'll just throw it out. If company is on the way, I'd have no qualms calling for pizza. It was good. I'll say that. But it wasn't great. It had a rich and flavorful base but it needed some acid to round it out. I added the juice of half of a lemon and maybe 3 Tbsp dry white wine and it did indeed provide a needed dimension to the soup, which then transformed it into great. The added drizzle of olive oil and splash of hot sauce before serving solidified the grade of an easy A. That means rave reviews and second helpings.

I served it with a simple kale salad with apples, goat cheese and candied pecans, which was the perfect balance to the rich soup. I love a nice culinary character foil when needed. This is it. And we all know how crazy good kale is for you. If you don't, check this out. 

So all said, I do think this qualifies as Seven Minutes in Heaven. If your mate or crush wants to hole up in a closet for seven minutes after eating this awesome soup, I would totally understand it. And a new definition of "kiss the cook!"

Happy November! 

7 Minute Soup: Creamy Piquillo Pepper and Chickpea Soup with Chicken
adapted from Food & Wine

1 cup drained piquillo peppers plus 1/4 cup cut into thin strips
3/4 cup (7 oz) hummus
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cooked brown or white rice (I'm lazy so bought this from my neighborhood thai restaurant)
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon
3 Tbsp dry white wine
Olive oil and hot sauce to garnish

1. In a blender, combine the whole piquillos with the hummus and stock and puree until smooth. 
2. Transfer the soup into a medium pot. Add the rice, chicken, lemon juice, and wine; and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. 
3. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the parsley, sliced piquillos, olive oil and hot sauce. 
Yields: 4 servings 

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