James Villas’s Pig: King of the Southern Table (Wiley, April 2010) is an impressive-looking tome, and Villas is an acclaimed food editor and cookbook author. So I was disappointed that the book’s Great Smokies Pork, Leek, and Wild Mushroom Soup wasn’t tastier. It’s not that it wasn’t good, but it wound up tasting more like a combination of ingredients in a pot rather than a cohesive dish (and yes, I sought out good pork shoulder, wild mushrooms and fresh tarragon). What’s the deal? If you try the recipe, please let me know how it turns out.
Great Smokies Pork, Leek, and Wild Mushroom Soup
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 pound pork shoulder, trimmed of excess surface fat and diced
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium leek (white part only), chopped
1 celery rib (leaves included), chopped
1/4 pound wild mushrooms (ceps, oyster, or chanterelles), rinsed and chopped
2 garlic cloves
6 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
1. Place the pork in a saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the pork and set aside.
2. In another large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat, add the leek, celery, mushrooms, and garlic, and stir for 5 minutes. Add the reserved pork, tomatoes, tarragon, and salt and pepper and stir for 5 minutes longer. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer till the pork is fork-tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Serve the soup hot in wide soup bowls.
This story originally appeared in Cooking the Books, PW's e-newsletter for cookbooks.