soup and salad

Do you know your salad fork from your dinner fork? Should you spoon soup towards you or away from you? We’ve been following these silly made-up manners a la Debrett’s for hundreds of years, and some would even say they are responsible for class wars and our lust for environmentally and socially destructive excess. Pshaw. Buck tradition. Show your dinner guests that no rules are the best kind of rules. Who decides what’s an appetizer and what’s a meal anyway? Serve a soup and salad dinner party they’ll never forget.

Entree as Appetizers?: Whether you’re a meat eater, vegan or somewhere in between, most any “main dish” can be served in bite-size portions as hors d’oeuvres. Try mini squash ravioli, risotto cakes, or marinated cutlets of your favorite meat or meat substitute. Then serve the typical appetizers as your main course.

‘Tis the Season: Winter is inching closer every day, so now would be the perfect time to make a creamy pumpkin or sweet potato bisque and serve it with a roasted root vegetable salad. In summertime you can wow your guests with a watermelon gazpacho and an avocado herb salad. Use your local resources, and that includes foraging for wild foods. How tasty would a wild mushroom barley soup taste with wilted winter greens? Yumm.

Go Global: Every culture, except maybe the Inuit make soup. Get all Sopranos on your guests with an Italian pasta fagiole soup and a tomato and fennel salad. Try an Indian theme, serving a mulligatawny or spicy sambar with a cool mango salad. Thai coconut curry soup is kind of the best thing ever, especially with a papaya salad. And there’s nothing as festive as a Mexican posole with a chili corn salad. Chinese hot pot soups are a lot of fun too, as it’s a kind of DIY soup, where guests pick their (mock) meats and veggies and dip them into the boiling  broth. It goes great with a cool spinach and cashew salad.

It’s all about the Wine: Work in wine pairings with each course to make the meal extra yummy and memorable. Savoring sips and bites can transform the meal into an exciting and even educational experience.

Souper Desserts:  Dessert soups are common in lots of Asian cultures. You can also make up your own, like a chilled berry soup. And I think you could get away with calling chocolate fondue soup. Serve with seasonal fresh fruit salad and…voila!

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