The Soup Doctor

In the realm of the culinary, I like to consider soup one of my more proficient skills.  I can make a soup out of almost nothing and know how to make it taste good.  I know what I like in a soup and I’ve made many in my life time because, well, I like soup.  As an evolving soupmaster, I’m always trying new recipes and new approaches.  From a September 10, 2008 clipping from the New York Times comes three vegetable soup recipes from Mark Bittman, which all needed a little help to make me like them more.

Fresh Tomato “Borscht” is more like a chunky gazpacho.  A tomato consomme is made from many many tomatoes, simmered and strained, then cooled.  Minced cucumber, bell pepper, more tomato, and scallions serve as “garnish”, but really creates the body of the soup.  Being a bit finicky about texture, I didn’t like the chunks of crunchy vegetables bobbing in the tomato water, too much contrast, not enough integration.  To make the soup more to my liking, I pureed it and, for more body, added bread crumbs – the way I usually like my gazpacho.

Zucchini Egg Lemon Soup is like a vegetarian avgolemeno, the Greek chicken soup.  Grated zucchini substitutes for shredded chicken in a creamy lemony rice enriched soup.  The texture was spot on, but tasted watery, lacking the richness that chicken gives.  Adding a squirt of lemon juice at the onset of eating didn’t help, although it added a nice brightness.  It wanted a little bit of chicken bouillion to smack of umami, which I gave it.

Late Summer Minestrone had all the best summer offerings, why did it make such a bland soup?  Zucchini, corn, green beans, carrots, and tomatoes all made for quite a sweet soup, but it lacked a savory edge.  Again, bouillion made it better, although what would have been perfect would be a rind of Parmesan simmered with the soup.  For more interest and thickness, I added orzo and fresh cranberry beans.  That’s the way I like it.

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