After days — I can’t remember how many — of disciplined research, I have finally found a way to get drunk during dinner without having to worry about that pesky and distracting side-component, wine. Going about my research methodically, as if to satisfy some deep, irrepressible thirst — for culinary progress — I tried and hurled aside many failed attempts at parsnip-sherry stew, meatballs soaked in wine, Wild-Turkey-pot-pie and grain-alcohol pudding. Fortunately, there was ample consolation at hand — and in the stew, and all over the kitchen — to control my frustration.
The difficulty lies in keeping the alcohol alcoholic: let it cook too long and the intoxicating chemical (ethanol) boils away. Instead, the alcohol must be added at the very end of cooking, when the food has cooled and is ready to serve. At that point, however, the chef encounters a second problem: alcohol, mixed into food, is often disgusting.
But I, addicted — or rather, dedicated — have prevailed. I now offer a dish with enough body to absorb the awful-burning taste of alcohol that’s been poured in as a garnish. I offer a dish that by itself can loosen your tongue, flush your cheeks and rouse your lusty spirit. I offer food that you can eat as a pre-game. I offer: vodka soup.
(Note: You will notice that this dish resembles the YSFP Creamy Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup served in the dining halls. If you find yourself without a kitchen, I suggest you sneak a bottle into the dining hall and make your own vodka soup on-site.)
Active time: 20 minutes. Actual time: 1 hour. Serves 4.
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for garlic
1 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1 28-oz can of plum tomatoes, chopped, juice included
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
1 whole head of garlic
1 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp fresh marjoram or 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
6 oz (4 shots) of vodka
Freshly-ground black pepper
(1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
(2) In a medium-sized soup pot and over medium heat, cook the onion, carrots and celery in the olive oil until all vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add the tomatoes with their juice, stir to mix well, and add the stock or broth with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat so the soup simmers, and cover loosely with a lid. Let simmer 30 minutes.
(3) Wrap the head of garlic in the aluminum foil with a light drizzling of oil. Roast in the oven until the garlic is fragrant and the cloves are soft, about 30 minutes.
(4) Unwrap the garlic and squeeze the soft cloves out of their skin and into the soup. Add the marjoram or parsley and simmer, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat and add cream, lemon juice and vodka. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls and exercise caution while working with heavy machinery.