Nirauan Engagement Soups
Hand in Marriage at the Hand of Thrawn
by SuSu, Wraith6, Rosie
Menu: Brown Stock Formula | Onion Soup with Big Cheesy Crouton | Creamy Mushroom Soup
When Mara and Luke were stuck beneath the Hand of Thrawn on Nirauan, they befriended sentient birds, who supplied them with meat to be roasted. When Mara woke up after 5 days in a Jedi healing trance, it was the first thing she smelled and she felt ravenous. Luke, who had been subsisting on the meat during that time, wasn't as enraptured of it as his wife-to-be. But there wasn't much else to eat, though he did manage to find some mushrooms and wild onions growing in the dim caverns they were in. Recognizing that he needed the protein and minerals of the roasted birds, he boiled a stock from the gnawed-on bones and leftover gristle, sliced up the vegetables and made a soup. It wasn't perfect, but he felt its potential, and when he and Mara finally escaped the planet, he tried developing the flavors further.
With the help of C3PO, he planned to prepare dinner at home for his family to let them know of his and Mara's decision to wed. Luke wanted to put his soup experiment to the test, but the protocol 'droid felt that the "all in one" soup Luke created on Nirauan was too much like a mish-mosh, and not proper enough for a dignitary of the likes of Princess Leia. Luke heard R2D2 reply that this was a soup party anyway.
Realizing the his faithful astromech 'droid hit upon the solution to the soup dilemma, Luke made two separate soups rather than a combined one. He also finesssed the broth into a proper stock, and that made a world of difference. The resulting soups were a big hit, and so hearty that everyone thought Luke had meant for these to be the whole meal.
The soups came out so well thanks to the stocks that Luke started hoarding bones from other meals. For example, whether a piece of meat with a bone or a large roasted bird was served to him, he'd place the leftover bones in a freezer-safe bag or container and save the bones and vegetable scraps till he had enough to make a big pot of stock. It appealed to the sense of frugality he grew up with, and it made his wife happy to be served rich, delicious soups when she was blue or simply ravenously hungry. So in addition to marking the day Mara agreed to marry him, Luke liked the stock and soups because they helped him keep her!
Brown Stock Formula
The first step to a good, elegant consommé, explained C3PO, is a good, strong, solid stock. Luke hasn't realized that by boiling the roasted bird bones on Nirauan, that's what he was doing. But it was rough and bland, and would need to be enhanced to do justice to an elegant soup. He discovered in his research that all stock is essentially the same, regardless of what type of bones were used. That there were bones and aromatic vegetables was key. To make a "white stock" -- less flavorful, without color -- the bones had to be blanched in water, then simmered slowly. The more flavorous brown stock could be made from bones that were oiled and roasted. The vegetables could also be roasted -- by charring the food, starches and proteins "caramelized" or turned into sugars. The resulting flavors were not only sweeter, but more complex and interesting. The browner color is also generally considered more appetizing. If you have bones from a roast, go ahead and use those, even if they'd been gnawed on. The boiling water will kill off any germs anyway, and isn't it nice to get something for nothing? Always plan on making stock from any sort of bones!
Alternatively, use bones from a roast you'd enjoyed already. You don't have to re-roast them unless they are quite pale.
Place the browned bones and vegetables into a large pot. Deglaze the bits and pieces in the bottom of the roasting pan with wine or vinegar or lemon juice, and pour into the stockpot. Add the mushroom scraps and leek tops if you have them. Cover it all with cold water. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Heat over low heat and do not allow the water to come to a hard boil or the sediment will be churned and make the stock cloudy. Continue to simmer and skim the foam off the top of the stock over the next 12 hours. Add more water if it evaporates too quickly. This process extracts all the flavor from the bones and vegetables.
When done, strain the stock and discard the solids. Cool the stock. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Or put into a clean pot and simmer to evaporate down to one-tenth of the volume. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer. This is demi-glace and it can be used to enrich a sauce, be a sort of "bouillion cube" by adding hot water, etc.
Onion Soup with Big Cheesy Crouton
This soup is simple but very rich. The onions need to be wilted and browned slowly, and the soup will be sweeter for it. The pungent melty cheese is needed to offset some of that sweetness, but don't skimp either way. It's a classic soup, and you need a great stock, great cheese, and slow cooked onions in this delectable balancing act.
Add the sherry and cook over high heat till mostly evaporated, then add the heated stock. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes or so.
Turn on the broiler. Toast the bread. Place a few bits into the bottom of an individual oven-proof bowl, and place those on an oven tray. Ladle soup up to the brim and sprinkle over with 2 tablespoons of cheese each bowl. Place the bowls under the broiler for a minute till the top is browned and bubbly.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
When Luke and Mara were on Nirauan, they had this soup rough and chunky. It was good, but C3PO suggested the texture would be more refined if it was puréed. Luke agreed, but he thought it was a bit thin. R2D2 suggested "white dairy," which C3PO couldn't determine was either milk or cream. It's good either way.
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