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The Drake Hotel

    The Drake Hotel
 in Chicago
    The Drake Hotel
 in Chicago
    The Drake Hotel
 in Chicago

Bookbinders Red Snapper Soup

Culinary Recipe From The Past
Source: Chicago Tribune
Date: September 09, 1998
By: Alicia E. Tessling, Test kitchen director

A Chicago culinary legend since 1933, the Bookbinders Red Snapper Soup was created and served at The Drake Hotel. It is a tomato-and-roux-based soup with meaty red snapper fish accompanied by a crystal decanter of sherry. Leo Waldmeier, Executive Chef at the Drake, was kind enough to share this recipe for a longstanding favorite. This soup was served in the hotel's Cape Cod Room since its opening for the 1933 World's Fair and now at the historic Coq d'Or.

The recipe was adapted from the snapper soup from Bookbinders restaurant in Philadelphia, with a few changes. The Philadelphia recipe called for turtle, but the Cape Cod Room uses red snapper. For perfect soup, you need to start with a good stock and a smooth roux.

If you have time, start with a homemade stock; the difference in the flavor will amaze you.

For a vegetable stock, clean out the refrigerator of vegetables such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, onions, leeks, mushrooms, and garlic. Avoid using cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts, as they contain hydrogen sulfide, which becomes more prominent and less pleasant the longer they cook.

You'll want about 2 pounds of mixed raw vegetables for 2 quarts (8 cups) cold water.

Put the cold water and vegetables in a stockpot and heat to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the vegetables have surrendered all their flavor to the broth - about 3 hours.

During the last hour of cooking, add a bouquet garni - a bag of herbs: a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, about 6 peppercorns and a bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth tied up with string.

Drain the broth through a sieve or cheesecloth and throw out the solids and bouquet garni. If you're not using the broth right away, cool it to room temperature and refrigerate. The stock also can be frozen in smaller containers so it is ready whenever you need it. Or, freeze the broth in ice cube trays; when frozen, transfer the cubes to zip-seal freezer bags.

Roux, often used in soups, stews, and gumbos as a thickening agent, is made from flour and fat. The fat is usually butter and is cooked with flour; stir constantly until the raw flour taste is gone. A liquid, such as broth, is then added to the flour-fat mixture.

Bookbinders Red Snapper Soup Recipe

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Soup base:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 each, chopped: carrots, celery ribs, garlic cloves
1 onion, chopped
1/2 each, chopped: red and green bell pepper
12 crushed white peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons each, chopped: fresh thyme, rosemary, cilantro
8 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Salt to taste

Red snapper:
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 to 2 fillets (10 ounces total) red snapper
1/4 cup sherry

1. For soup base, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, garlic, onion, and bell peppers; cook, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Stir in peppercorns, bay leaf, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro. Cook 2 minutes. Add 7 cups of the broth: heat to boil.

2. Melt butter in small saucepan; add flour and cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in remaining 1 cup broth until roux is smooth. Add roux to soup base; cover, simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Strain through fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth; discard solids. Return broth to pot.

3. For snapper, heat water to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery; blanch until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon; add to broth. Boil fish in same water until cooked through. Remove fish from water; flake very finely with fork. Stir snapper and sherry into soup base; heat through.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 165
Fat: 9 g
Saturated fat: 3.3 g
% calories from fat: 50
Cholesterol: 29 mg
Sodium: 1,075 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Protein: 13 g
Fiber: 0.7 g

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