Soup Up My Soup

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Twenty-one – Sim Simma (Whose got Tomatoes and some Ginga?)

Dear Soup Development Team,

After twenty-one weeks, I have decided to hang up the proverbial soup pan, expand my horizons and move past this wonderful appetizer. Therefore, “soup up my soup” will serve as the predecessor for a new, more diverse discourse on the world of gastronomy. For those of you who actually read through these musings, you’ll notice that my notorious topic drift eventually led to the blog losing the focus of being simply about soup, and was begging to move beyond these borders and become more free-form in nature. So, watch out for something new in the next few weeks. It will be better, I promise.

The ginger plant, or Zingiber officinale, has a long history of cultivation, originating in Asia, then travelling to India, Southeast Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean. Culinary uses are many and varied, ranging from being the main ingredient of ginger ale, to being used in a variety of Indian and Chinese dishes. Ginger also has many medicinal uses, having evidence of blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties, as well as being frequently used to treat dyspepsia and colic.

Although outrageously overpriced in shi-shi grocery stores like Loblaws and Sobeys, you can get ginger route in a bag for cheap at most Asian grocery stores. It is a staple in all of my Asian cooking, most frequently as part of marinades. You can peel the root and then use a cheese grater, or just smash it down on the cooking board if you have a cleaver. I like smashing things with the flat side of a cleaver, which is probably testament to my impatience when I have too much food prep to do for a meal.

Sim Simma (Whose got Tomatoes and some Ginga?)

Serves four-ish

Anyone who talks to me regularly knows of my obsession with Sandwich Box, a gourmet sandwich joint on Richmond St. across the street from my office building. Last Thursday the soup was Tomato and Ginger, and it was the best soup I’ve had there in a while. So, here is a solid version of it.

Cut up and then Puree the following:

2 yellow onions
4 ounces of ginger root

Melt in a soup pan over medium heat:

1/2 cup butter

add and cook for 4 minutes and stirring frequently:

Onion puree that you just made

Puree and add to the saucepan:

2 pounds of hot house tomatoes

Add, bring to a boil, then sim simma on medium low heat for 30 minutes:

1 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
2 tbsp of white sugar
sea salt and pepper
to taste
2 cups of heavy cream (whipping cream)

In a separate bowl, beat:

2 egg yolks

Add a small portion of the soup into the yolks, and then pour mixture back into the saucepan

Garnish with:

chives, cut into lengths


Track of the week:

Track this week is Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits, because it’s a way better song than anything by Beenie Man.

Adios for now,
“made from scratch”

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Twenty – I’m not a Player, I just Schuck a lot (Oyster Saffron Soup)

I'm not a Player, I just Schuck a lot (Oyster and Safron Soup)Dear Soup Development Team,

Substantial controversy enshrouds the months in which oysters should be consumed. One of the oldest rules states that they should only be eaten in months that contain the letter R. This adage came into prominence during a time when there was inadequate refrigeration during transport. From a health perspective, it is now safe to eat oysters year round.

However, there is another reason to eat oysters only in the Rs; the warm months are spawning season and the texture can becomes quite unappealing. I was in this camp for a while, until I ordered some oysters last summer at the Starfish Oyster Bed and Grill in Toronto during the Summerlicious festival and thought they were delicious. The warmer months can make for some interesting variations in flavour; since oysters are basically filters, the different currents can bring different, and enjoyable flavors, to the same oyster from the same oyster bed depending on climate. These days, however, the vast majority of oysters are cultivated and a high proportion of these are sterile and unable to spawn, making the argument moot.

Utimately oysters are a matter of taste, and if you actually cook or poach them, it doesn’t really matter when they are eaten. So even if you don’t rush to make this recipe in the next short while, save it for the summer and it will be equallly delicious.

I’m Not a Player, I just Schuck A Lot (Oyster Saffron Soup)

Shuck about 24 oysters and reserve their liquor (the liquid) A pretty good tutorial here on how (

In a pan on medium-low head, add:

1 tbps butter
1 tbsp olive oil

Add and cook for about three minutes:

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup celery, fine dice
1 cup leeks, finely sliced and only the white part

Add to pot and poach for about two minutes:

oyster liquid


1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup heavy cream (table cream may be substituted, but don’t try using milk)

Add, bring to just under a boil and then simmer:

a pinch of saffron
pepper to taste

Add and serve

parsley to taste

Track of the Week

This week’s track is Small Axe by Bob Marley, a man who certainly did a lot of schucking in his lifetime.


“made from scratch”

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Eighteen – Single Ladies (Put a Carrot in it)

Dear Soup Development Team:

New York Times food critic Mark Bittman was at the University of Toronto last week promoting his new book “Food Matters – A Guide to Conscious Eating”, and I was lucky enough to get a seat in the packed audience. He was on stage with CBC’s Matt Galloway for an hour-long discussion, with topics ranging from eco-eating to our overconsumption of meat. I know most of you are desensitized to the piles of statistics on the Western diet, however one crazy stat worth mentioning is that 7% of American’s calories come from soda (although, 7% of my diet probably comes from Canadian Club, and another 7% comes from red wine, so I can’t say much here).

One interesting take-away I got from the talk was his argument that you should really only be shopping around the perimeter of the supermarket, as the stuff in the middle is basically processed derivatives of the outside. This would follow that you should only really be buying about 10% of what a supermarket sells.

Below is a simple vegetable soup with some pearled barley in it. You can add whatever vegetables and spices you want, but the below can serve as a simple framework for timing and ingredients.

Single Ladies (Put a Carrot in it)

Start by making a simple vegetable broth:

Put in a soup pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes:

3 litres of ice cold water (or however big your pot is)
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 dried clove

remove all vegetables, bay leaf and clove and discard. Then add and cook on medium for 20 minutes:

2 cups carrots, diced
2 cups of celery, diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup pearled barley

Add, cook for another 5 minutes:

1/2 cup roughly chopped or crushed canned tomatoes

Sea salt and pepper to taste


You could also add some small pasta the same time you add the veggies and barley

Bittman in the News

A good book review of Bittmans book is here.

Track of the Week

This weeks track is “Vegetables” by The Beach Boys. You know you love it.


“made from scratch”

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Seventeen – Bisque Markie

Dear Soup Development Team,

Barack Obama isn’t the first president to take over in a time of crisis. In January of 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the President’s office in the midst of The Great Depression. Due to the circumstances, most of the ceremonies for Inauguration Day where canceled, save for a simple buffet for family and a few friends, and a reception in the early evening, which FDR didn’t even attend.

Although not considered a picky eater, FDR quickly grew tired of the meals that were prepared by Mrs. Henry Nesbitt, the White House housekeeper at the time, who believed in plain food plainly cooked, and apparently was very difficult to get along with. FDR is reported to have said, “my stomach positively rebels and this does not help my relations with foreign powers. I bit two of them yesterday.”

Because of his disability, FDR seldom ate out. Fed up with Mrs. Henry’s cooking, he eventually brought in his former personal cook and had a kitchen installed on the third floor, where she cooked two meals for him daily. This was successful right up until when America was put on an austerity program shortly after World War 2, and the White House needed to follow it like everyone else. During this time, the diet consisted of an egg, one slice of toast, one slice of bacon, and coffee for breakfast, and simple lunches and dinners. Staff were even required to bring their own sugar to work if they wanted to use it in their cooking.

FDR is the only president to have presided over the country for more than two terms, serving from 1933 until his death in 1945, eventually being succeeded by Harry Truman. His plan for tackling The Great Depression, called The New Deal, is largely considered to have been a success, as well as his leadership throughout World War II. There’s little doubt Obama and his team will be closely studying the policies of FDR’s administration as to figure out how to steer the US through the next couple of years.

FDR’s favourite soup was Martha Washington’s Crab Soup. I’ve taken the gist of this soup and updated it a little. So this is for those who didn’t want to spend $50 making A Tribe Called Bisque a few months back, but want to enjoy the deliciousness of a good bisque.

Bisque Markie (Just a Friend)

Serves four or five

For delicate soups like this (as well as for things like melting chocolate) try to use a double boiler, however you can make a makeshift one with a large sauce pan, a smaller sauce pan, and a strainer (see picture at the bottom). The idea is that you want to cook the thing in the inside pot, using the heat from the boiling water of the outside pot. The inside pot should be just sitting on top of the water level of the bigger pot.

In the top of a double boiler (or the inside sauce pan if you have a makeshift one), add:

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour

When mixed well together, add:

2 hard boiled eggs, mashed
zest of one lemon (or one lemon peel grated if you don’t have a zester, which is just a very fine grater)

Stir in and cook on medium heat, until thickened up a bit, about 10 minutes:

4 cups of milk, or light cream (the heavier the milk/cream the better the taste)
1/4 cup of pureed rice (cook whatever rice you like to use and then puree it in a blender with some of the milk

Add and cook for another 5 minutes:

1.5 pounds of crab meat, I used soft shell because it’s much easier to get the meat out, but you can use whatever kind you want

You can also add some shrimp in there as well, or shallots, or any other seafood


1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of sherry (used Orion 2001 Chardonnay Sherry, was the only bottle they had at The Wine Rack and I wasn’t driving all the way to the LCBO)
paprika to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Cook for another 5 minutes or so and then serve.

Jayro in the News

If you’re looking for something to do next weekend, I’ll be giving a cooking demonstration on Saturday in Markham, Ontario, showcasing a few of Susur’s French Chinese fusion recipies. Starts at 1, see attached poster.

Track of the Week

Yip Harburg’s “Life is a Bowl of Cherries” was one of the defining songs of the Great Depression. Although Judy Garland’s career came a bit later, her version is still my favorite. Give it a listen and get some perspective yo.


“made from scratch”

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Fifteen – Drop it Like it’s Hot and Sour Soup

Dear Soup Development Team,

Another year is upon us, time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Since I know most of you can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow, I’ll keep this short and head right to the recipe.

A close cousin of Egg Drop it Like it’s Hot Soup, The etymology of Drop it Like it’s Hot and Sour Soup can be traced back to ancient China in Sichuan province. The wood ears and lily buds enhance circulation, chicken broth is said to have healing magic (think chicken noodle soup), and the vinegar to make it sour has antiseptic properties.

Drop it Like it’s Hot and Sour Soup

The sour flavour in the soup comes from the rice vinegar and the ginger. If you find that the below is not enough, keep adding until it tastes right to you. You will need to go to an Asian grocery store to get some of the below ingredients. Any basic one should have everything.

Soak 4 wood ears, 10 lily buds and 4 Chinese black mushrooms in hot water covered for 20 minutes

Cut about ½ a pound of boneless pork into ¼ inch, match-stick size pieces, and marinade with the below for 15 minutes:

1 tsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of rice wine
½ tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch

When the wood ears and black mushrooms have fully been rehydrated, cut into matchstick-sized pieces, roughly the same as the pork. Make sure you remove the stems.

In a large soup pan bring to a boil and then simmer:

6 cups of chicken stock
2 tps of rice wine
1 tsp of salt
½ tsp of sugar

Add the pork, murshrooms, and wood ears to the soup base

In a separate bowl, mix 3 tbs of cornstarch with 6 tbs of water and then add to the soup to thicken it

To season the soup, mix the following together and then add to the soup:

3 tbs of soy sauce
4 tbs of rice vinegar
1 ½ tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs of minced green onions
2 tbs of minced ginger

After about 5 more minutes of cooking, take the soup pan off the heat and add two beaten eggs, poring slowly in a small stream while stiring the soup in a circular motion

This weeks track is Lord of our Vice by Blue Sky Black Death. The strings in the sample are reminiscent of a Chinese pipa, and the title is fitting since 90% of you will probably break your New Years Resolutions by the end of the week, if you haven’t already. I know I have.

“made from scratch”

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Fourteen – French Onion feat. 2 Live Croutons

Dear Soup Development Team,

I’ve always had somewhat of an inferiority complex towards the French. Maybe it’s because the girls behind the counter would always laugh at me when I would try to order crepes en Francais on our grade Eight trip to Quebec. Or maybe because I knew the girl of my dreams for years, Audrey Tautou, by way of the 2001 film Amelie, would never go for a guy who couldn’t even order crepes in her mother tongue. Or perhaps it was because of the fact that after seven years of compulsory French class, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts much further than “I am tired,” or “I would like four cheeseburgers.”

It took me a while to overcome this lack of confidence, of which I still have yet to fully recover. However, one thing is for sure; if you want to learn how to really cook, you need to embrace French culture in at least some capacity. They basically invented haute cuisine. In North America, for the last half of the 20th century, gourmet cooking was synonymous with French cooking, and everything else was just “ethnic.”

Below is a simple recipe for French Onion. I like it a lot, and it’s easy, unlike many other French dishes.

French Onion feat. 2 Live Croutons

The key to French Onion is in the carmalization of yellow onions. Some people will get hard core and have them sit on low heat for hours over the stove, but you really don’t need more than 40 minutes, 15 on medium-low and the rest on low. Also, to stay true to the recipe use Gruyere cheese and not the mild cheddar you probably have sitting in the crisper. It’s worth the trip. French bread can be substituted with croutons, or even just regular toast.

The below makes about a quart, serves four as an app or two as a main, if you actually think soup could ever be a main dish. If you do, I will be ordering four cheeseburgers on my way home.

Add the following to a saucepan on medium-low heat:

1 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of olive oil


2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced, no more than ¼ inch thick

Turn the heat up to medium. Stir occasionally, so as to not let the onions burn. When they start to brown turn down to medium-low, or about 15 minutes in. After another 25 mins with the heat on low, add:

1 tbsp Cognac

Turn up the heat to high until the cognac has evaporated. Then add:

2 cups of beef stock (or vegetable stock if you are one of those people)

Bring to a boil, then simmer, for about 20 minutes. Then add:

Salt and pepper to taste

Put one (or two, or however many you need) bowls onto a baking sheet. Add on top of the soup:

2 Live Croutons (or two slices of toasted French bread)
3 tbsp of Gruyere cheese

Broil (means the heat is coming from the top of the oven) until the cheese is melted, not too long.


Housekeeping Notes:

If you haven’t made plans for New Years yet, I’ll be on the 1’s and 2’s this year at Brazen Head in Liberty Village. Tickets are $50 for dinner + party $25 for the party. Come say hello, or buy me a jaggerbomb and request your favourite track, it should be good times. Facebook page is below:

Track of the Week:

As a new feature, going forward I’ll be pairing the soups with a song. I’ll do this for a few months at least and then maybe make a dj mix out of them. This week I thought I would pair French Onion feat. 2 Live Croutons with a track from the French-inspired Hotel Costes series called Getting Closer by Hird. Extra credit goes to people who make the soup and download the song to their Ipods. If you are reading this from the blog and not in the email and would like to be added to the newsletter so as to get the music, drop me an email at and I’ll add you.

Au Revoir,

“made from scratch”

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DJ Jayro Soup Development Team: Week Thirteen – Chicken Nizzle

Dear Soup Development Team,

In his book entitled The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton eloquently stated that “what we find exotic abroad is often what we hunger for in vein at home.” In a previous article for my company’s newsletter, of which I believe was leaked to The Washington Post, I spoke of my fondness of Toronto, in that the exotic can be found all around us, probably more so than any other city on our dear planet.

Of course, there are the numerous ethnic enclaves throughout Toronto Proper where you can catch a glimpse into the authentic cultures of Asia, Europe, and South America. However, there is no other place in Toronto that brings it all as nicely together as, you guessed it, the “Joe’s No Frills” beside the Dufferin Mall.

This is one of my favourite places to go in the city. As I walked around on Sunday, collecting the ingredients for this week’s soup, I don’t recall once hearing the English language spoken with the exception of at the checkout counter. The butcher who cut my side ribs was joking around with his colleagues en Español, the girl who was taking forever in front of me at the checkout counter was arguing with her boyfriend in Tagalog, and there was a couple behind me talking in Mandarin, complaining about the price of butter. For that instant I felt not unlike how Marco Polo must have during his travels across the Silk Road. Except that I was obtaining my goods with the use of a debit card instead of opium, which No Frills doesn’t accept. Yet.

Contrast this with Loblaws, the epitome of overpriced shi-shi grocery shopping, frequented by overworked young professionals buying pre-cooked meals and bored housewives mulling about the isles with their recipe clippings from Gourmet Magazine. Worst of all is the “Memories of…” franchise. All of these original sauces, in their authentic form, can be found for half the price and taste better then their watered down, pedestrian Loblaws counterparts. Forget about the fact that when you shop at Loblaws, part of the cost is going towards those absurd Galen Weston commercials, face du jour of Loblaws. And don’t get me started on the $15 Jerk Chicken Sauce at Williams-Sonoma.

This week is some good old fashioned Chicken Noodle for my fallen homies who were taken down by the flu. If you want me to come over and make you some just call me. Just don’t get me sick.

Chicken Nizzle

Serves one sick person twice

Bring to a boil:

4 cups of chicken stock

Stir in, cook el dente (“sort of hard” in English):

1 cup egg noodles


2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


Note: If you want to actually include chicken, you can take maybe half of a boneless chicken breast, shred it into small pieces and cook in the stock until done, 10 minutes or so

Soup in the News:

Curious about what kind of soup you are? Find out here:


Apparently I’m Minestrone (of Sound)

“made from Scratch”

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