Story by Dave Eckert
I know a lot of people enjoy soup year-round, but for me, the heat and humidity of a Kansas City summer (and lately, fall as well) just wipes out my appetite for most soup. But, when the weather cools, the days shorten, and the braises and roasts dominate, I crave soup on a regular basis. But, what to make at home and where to go for great soup options? I’ve got some answers to those questions for you, starting with a visit to the wonderful educational center in the Shawnee Mission School District that is The Broadmoor Bistro.
For his part, Chef and Broadmoor Bistro founder Bob Brassard contributed the Bistro’s butternut squash bisque with caramelized apples, a longtime favorite. “We’ve been creating this bisque since the inception of the Broadmoor Urban Farm several years ago. The idea of having students plant a seed in the spring, then a new generation of students harvest in the fall is the essence of what we do,” Brassard shared. “We have grown butternut squash for years, but last fall’s harvest was our greatest yield yet-over 500 pounds! We’ve cooked it a dozen ways, but we always fall back to this bisque recipe. We originally did this in partnership with the Overland Park Farmers Market for an adult education class in 2014. We’ve made adjustments over the years, refining it to feature specific flavors, but the great thing about the base of this soup is you can custom tailor it and improvise. It’s super versatile.” Brassard kindly supplied the recipe, and for that, I am extremely grateful. The bisque is beautiful!
Downtown at The Kauffman Center, I caught up with Executive Chef Laura Comer. Although her restaurant, The Dining Experience, has yet to reopen, Comer is cooking full-time for pop-ups, private parties, and other catered events. Soup isn’t always on those menus, but it seems like it’s always in the back of Comer’s mind. “I definitely think winter when I think of soup. Comfort food. Something heavier,” Comer told me. “We do all sorts of soups at The Kauffman Center, but in the winter, I lean toward pureed soups or cream soups like a nice, lovely bisque.”
Comer grew up north of the river in a soup making family. She says ham and bean soup was a particular family favorite. She also enjoys making soup at home for her two boys, like a big batch of chicken noodle soup she whipped up recently for one of her sons and a bunch of his friends. One of the things Comer says she loves most about soup is its versatility. “Soup can be very basic, or it can be elevated and elegant. It’s also a great vehicle for leftovers and trimmings. With soup, you can utilize everything and really cut down on waste, which is important to me,” Comer stated.
Comer supplied her brown butter cauliflower soup recipe. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but it’s definitely on my radar!
Right around the corner from The Kauffman Center, I dropped in on my buddy, Bradly Gilmore, who has just opened up an amazing pop-up restaurant – Lula’s Southern Cookhouse. Lula’s pays homage to Gilmore’s grandmother, and to the cuisine of the south where Gilmore was born and raised. I asked him what he thinks of when he conjures soup? “Comfort. Warm. Good Feeling. Making you feel better,” Gilmore exclaimed. That’s a perfect description for Lula’s, which despite its sizeable space, makes you feel like you’re dining in someone’s home. Gilmore has created a soup for Lula’s that has quickly become a crowd favorite and one of the “go to” dishes on the menu. It’s a Vidalia Onion bisque that is so rich, creamy, and flavorful that I have yet to visit the restaurant and not order the soup. I asked Gilmore about his inspiration for the bisque. “Growing up in North Carolina not too far from Georgia, we had Vidalia onions all the time. They are so sweet and delicious I knew I wanted to do something with them here at Lula’s. The bisque came together quickly and easily. It’s a natural, especially in the winter. Everyone loves it. It’s one of the most popular items on the menu,” Gilmore stated.
So, there you have it – great people, great soup, and great recipes to give you some inspiration as we head into the heart of winter. Stay warm and soupy everyone!
Brown Butter Cauliflower Soup with Apple Fritter Funnel Cake Soup
- 1 head garlic
- 4 oz brown butter (melt in a sauce pot and cook over medium low until browns and smells nutty)
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3lbs cauliflower florets
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 5 cups Vegetable Stock
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaf
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 cup heavy cream
- Fresh Squeezed Lemon juice to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons Chives for garnish, finely sliced
Apple Fritter Funnel Cakes for garnish, see recipe below
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line sheet tray with parchment paper.
- Cut and place cauliflower florets in a large bowl and toss with brown butter then place in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Cut one end off the garlic head, wrap in foil and onto the baking sheet with cauliflower.
- Place into oven and roast until cauliflower and garlic is tender and golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5-6 minutes, do not brown- sweat to bring out sweetness. Stir in stock, thyme, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Stir in cauliflower, garlic, and cream. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until cauliflower is tender and falling apart, an additional 10 minutes. Puree in a blender and strain if desired.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more stock as needed until desired consistency is reached. Finish with lemon juice to add acidity to desired taste. Serve immediately.
Apple Fritter/Funnel Cake
- 1 cup All-purpose Flour
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 1/8 teaspoons Baking Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 whole large egg
- 3 oz Whole Milk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tablespoons Melted Butter
- 1 Granny Smith Apple, Peeled and Small Diced
- 8 oz of Crisco (or other preferred fat for frying)
- Thermometer for oil/fat
- Heat oil in a cast iron or small heavy metal pot to 350 degrees and hold.
- In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork, then add milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
- Gently fold dry and wet ingredients together until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in apples.
- Drop small scoop of batter (about 2 tablespoons) into the hot oil, 3-4 at a time. Make sure the batter’s cooked through, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes total. To make funnel cakes, place batter in a disposable piping bag and cut the tip to leave about 1/8” hole. Pipe batter in a small circle, dropping directly into oil (careful not to splash!).
- Serve warm.