Do you remember your food "bests"? Like the best cheesecake you ever had, or the best lemon meringue pie? Yes to both of those for me, and another yes to the best reuben sandwich I ever ate. It was last summer in New York City, and it was a four-inch tall behemoth of a sandwich with juicy corned beef, perfectly toasted rye bread and just enough sauerkraut. I was lucky my mother-in-law shared it with me or I would have needed to curl up in a ball and sleep the rest of the day instead of seeing the sights. I don't know if any other reuben sandwich will ever be able to match it, though it certainly hasn't stopped me from eating them.
I thought of that great reuben sandwich a couple months ago when I ran across a newspaper article that had a recipe for a local pub's popular reuben soup. Reuben flavor in a soup? That was something I just had to try. It turns out that corned beef and sauerkraut are just as good together in a soup as they are on rye bread. Throw in some potatoes for body and some seasonings and you've got a pretty darn good soup that in my mind rivals the original sandwich. That is high praise coming from a reuben sandwich fan.
The recipe from the newspaper article was a little vague at times as far as amounts and times, so I'm posting my modifications and amounts that work for me. I've tweaked quite a few things from the original recipe, not the least of which was replace the 2 whole cups of heavy cream with half a cup of half and half. I know it's not likely that any meal with corned beef in it would be considered low-fat, but with less cream I don't feel as guilty about having a second bowl.
And after finishing one bowl, I always want another.
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow sweet onion, chopped small
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup water
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp pickling spices
1 cup cooked corned beef, chopped medium
1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained
1/4 teaspoon caraway seed
2T Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (1/4 tsp is just barely spicy)
Salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and croutons for garnish
In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Increase heat to medium, sprinkle in flour to make a roux and cook one minute. Slowly pour in water, whisking after each addition, until add the water has been incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, half and half, pickling spices, corned beef, sauerkraut, potatoes, caraway seeds, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Taste and add red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Remove bay leaves. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley and croutons.
Serving: 4 to 6
Recipe Source: Inspired by the Green Pig Pub