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Cuckoo for Coq au Vin: The Soup

Wait a Minute! This Bird's Not Braised. It's Stewed!

Back when I was single and first learning how to cook, I would invite friends over to my Valley Village apartment, cook all day, drink lots of wine, and wind up smoking cigars on the roof of my garage.  Unlike today, the menu was never static.  I made pesto lasagna from Marcella Hazan, chocolate mousse cake from the Moustache Café (something my brother dubbed a big brownie), and yes, Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook.  But the one recipe that stuck with me, the one that I made again and again, was coq au vin.

I am married now, still learning how to cook and continuing to enjoy entertaining. So, aside from the twin facts that my garage’s roof  is not very conducive to cigar smoking and I no longer have any friends (moo-moo-moo-moo), not much has changed.

Especially the part about coq au vin.

The recipe I cut me teeth on (not literally), one that I still enjoy making, came from a cooking class I took at a now defunct Brentwood store called Montana Mercantile. It is not Julia Child’s recipe, although, except for Julia’s lardons, it’s pretty close.  Chicken, mushroom, onions, stock, wine, garlic, thyme, butter and beurre manie cooked low and slow.  It’s called braising, people, and the result is a classic taste that’s been around for centuries.

As you have probably guessed, it’s a taste I co-opted for this week’s soup recipe.

Coq au vin is pretty labor intensive, so I’m not asking you to make that recipe first, although that’s where this soup originated.

Coq au vin + stock = Instant Soup  ±  the day of cooking the first part requires.

Instead, I have adapted the recipe into a direct to soup proposition. (Not to be mistaken for the direct to video phenomenon for films that aren’t good enough to be released in theatres.)  Although, because there is no braising involved, I suggest that you prepare the soup at least one day before serving it so the flavor can fully develop.

It really makes a difference.

As proof, when I made the soup this week, I served it the same night I made it.  It was still good, but by the next day it was much better.  The same was true about the coq au vin I made on Saturday to celebrate mine and my niece’s and brother-in-law’s birthdays (Happy Birthday Olivia & Charles).

On the other hand, the coq au vin at the party might have been less than ideal because I neglected to add any garlic.  (Don’t let that happen to you!)

That’s another thing that’s happened since I’ve been married (with children)—I forget things a lot more.

Coq au Vin Soup
(serves 6-8)
1-2 T olive oil
1 ½ lbs brown or yellow onions, chopped
1 ½ lbs button mushrooms, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine (a burgundy or similar)
5 cups chicken stock
1 T thyme
Salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a 3 quart pot, add the chopped onions and mushrooms and saute over medium to high heat until they’re soft.
  2. Add the garlic and continue to cook the mixture for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add wine, stock, thyme and seasonings, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat, cool and refrigerate over night.
  5. Reheat and serve.  Believe me, it’s better this way.

Image Credit: Sonny the Cuckoo, mascot for General Mills Cocoa Puffs since 1963.  And yes, he’s “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”

Coq au vin literally means “cock (rooster) in wine.” It’s supposed to be a capon, which is an emasculated rooster, but that seemed a little harsh for a birthday dinner.  If you leave a comment, I promise to let you keep your dignity too.  I’ll be reading and responding.

2 Comments to “Cuckoo for Coq au Vin: The Soup”

  1. Paul says:

    I always thought it was “moo-moo-moo” (3 moos) Have I been misquoting you all this time?
    Your Older Capon

    • pcandres says:

      I don’t know about the number of moos. I think it’s all about cadence. Slow and sardonic, use three. Quick and dismissive, try four. The bigger question is whether people will be confused about the use of bovine products in a chicken soup. Thanks for the comment.