We already know that "winter time is soup time" and that soup time is yum time. And we already know that Jhan's idea of soup is something that you can stand a knife in, Not that I'm complaining; it's just that I don't use the word 'soup' to describe something that you can serve on a plate. So, having had her idea of a soup, we decided to try something that more fit my idea of a soup: something actually soupy.
This particular soup turned out to be photogenic, delicious and warming - the triple crown for a hungry and cold food photographer. Of course, it didn't hurt that it had lamb in it!
This soup was so beautiful and so tasty. I was actually very surprised at how well the lamb and cucumber went together. This soup is hearty but yet refreshing and is perfect for a blustery, wet day. The original recipe came from The Soup Bible (Debra Mayhew, Ed.). I made some small changes, but overall this recipe produces a flavorful and aromatic broth full of tender chunks of lamb and al dente cucumbers.
8 oz boneless lamb steak (I used some nice loin chops since lamb steaks are not regularly available in our small berg)Instructions
1 1/2 TBSPs light soy sauce
3 tsp dry sherry
3/4 tsp sesame oil
1 small cucumber, about 4 inches long
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
salt and cracked pepper
- Trim any fat from the meat. Slice lamb into thin strips. Marinate in the soy sauce, sherry, and sesame oil for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Discard any extra marinade when time is up.
- Do not peel the cucumber. Cut lengthwise and then into thin slices on the diagonal. (half moons).
- Bring stock to a boil and add meat. Stir well. Bring to a boil again and add the cucumber, vinegar and seasoning. Return to a boil again and serve immediately.
I'm not the biggest fan of Asian food, as you may know, but I do love the look of Asian food and Asian plates.
These bowls and plates were purchased at TJ Maxx for $3.95 each. I loved the shape of the bowls and the intensity of the red glaze against the black interior of the bowl.
When we decided to make the lamb cucumber soup, I knew the green of the cucumber would be a good counterpoint to the red plate and that the clear broth would go well with the Asian influences in the plate and bowl.
I kept the set up as simple as possible, mostly because I'm tired of busy place settings that end up looking crappy when photographed. Simple is simply harder to screw up.
Lighting and Photography
So I placed the key light(s) to the left of the dish and bounced a rear fill light off the wall. I used a piece of black foam core to limit the location and amount of light hitting the dish from the rear. This took a bit of testing and tweaking to get just right, as you can see from the image below.
Lighting test - too many reflections
Once I got the level and angle of rear fill the way I wanted, I added a piece of white foam core to the right of the dish to fill in the shadows on the right front area of the dish. Overall, it was a very simple and successful shoot, and again showcases that I have a lot easier time with dark backgrounds than with light backgrounds. Someday, I'll understand why.
I think I said it best above: Simple is simply harder to screw up.