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Table Talk: A week of soup, sweets and coffee
 
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Welcome back to Table Talk, where The Daily Memphian’s food and dining editor Jennifer Biggs sends the latest food news (along with a dash of this and that) to your inbox every Wednesday.

 

Green chicken chili is a winter staple. Crushed tortilla chips stirred in just before serving is a good tip. (Jennifer Biggs: Daily Memphian)

This has been a week of soups for me. When it’s cold, I want soup, period. And I have a sick friend, so I’ve been cooking extra.

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Everyone has a green chicken chili recipe they like, and I have two tips that will make yours better. Before you start, boil your chicken and use the stock to make your soup. I use a rotisserie chicken; the cooked pieces give you a richer stock.

Second, just before you serve your chili, stir a small handful of crumbled tortilla chips in the bowl to lend their own flavor. I’m sure you’ll like this tip, passed on to me by radio personality Steve Conley a few years ago. Add your toppings and proceed however you like after that. 

This week, I discovered a new favorite dessert. I couldn’t imagine that I would count a baked apple among my favorite things to eat, but when Master Chef (that’s an official and earned title) Jose Gutierrez makes it, it’s no everyday baked apple

 

J.C. Cofield makes a drink at Not a Coffee Shop on National Street. (Brad Vest/Special to The Daily Memphian)

Omer Yusef tells us about a place that not only serves coffee, but also serves to educate about the Black connection to coffee, which likely had its origin as a drink in Ethiopia. Have a read about a new coffee shop called — what else? — Not a Coffee Shop

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Reuben Skahill and Ryan Hopgood, who launched the Facebook group Memphis Sandwich Clique in 2019, started serving sandwiches at Clique HQ, a curbside-delivery restaurant in East Memphis. The new spot is already killing it with a menu of just four sandwiches and a few other things.

And have a listen to this week’s SoundBites, where Chris Herrington and I talk about some of our favorite sandwiches and reminisce about a massive project we undertook a few years ago to find the city’s best sandwich, bracket-style. 

When President Joe Biden was elected, Memphian DJ Naylor felt a sense of home-team pride; Biden’s ancestors are from Ballina, Naylor’s hometown in Ireland. Naylor owns Celtic Crossing in Cooper-Young, and Seamus Loftus, also from Ballina, owns The Brass Door, just a few miles west in Downtown Memphis. How did these two guys end up in the same city? There’s a connection.

 

Construction crews worked Jan. 13 to start a new Chick-fil-A location at 4649 Summer Ave. (Tom Bailey/Daily Memphian)

People get excited about fast food and for some reason, particularly about Chick-fil-A. Don’t be ashamed if you’re one of them; we all have our guilty pleasures. Tom Bailey tells us that ground has been broken on the new one coming to Summer Avenue, and at least that part of it excites me. The grandkids love the nuggets, and when I can, I go to Summer instead of fighting traffic on Poplar Avenue. 

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Before I share my best soup of the week recipe, how about that Health Directive 17? It’s nice to know we’re headed in the right direction and that restaurants can once again go back to 50% capacity. You still have to wear your mask, there’s still a curfew and a few other rules, but this is good for restaurants and it shows that we’ve been doing our part too, as our COVID-19 numbers are falling. 

And listen up: They tell us we’ve made it through the worst, but we still have to be careful. Let’s don’t get this far and so close to vaccines and find ourselves with another surge and another big shutdown. We know the right things to do, so let’s keep at it: Masks on, circles small, hands washed. If you’re a healthy person, you can keep living your life with precautions and know there’s a light at the end of this long tunnel.

 

Cream of mushroom soup (Jennifer Biggs/The Daily Memphian)

Now: Here’s the link to the recipe for the cream of mushroom soup I made this week. The best one I ever made was years ago from a long-lost recipe and multiple varieties of mushrooms. This time I had a 1-pound package of regular button mushrooms I had to use, so I used that (less than the recipe calls for). I didn’t have bouillon cubes, but I had a can of beef consommé for my COVID preparedness pack and I had homemade chicken stock, frozen from the chicken chili. I added the consommé to make the called-for 4 cups.

I used one onion instead of two, two cloves of garlic instead of four, and dried fines herbes instead of fresh parsley and thyme that I didn’t have on hand. At the end of cooking, I pureed about one-third of the soup and stirred it back in. It was excellent and as you can see, very forgiving. Just cook the mushrooms until they’re brown and use the cream; riff on the rest as you need or want.

Have a safe week. January is two-thirds gone, February is short, and March means spring is here.

 
 
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