Eat some soup.

5:30 pm pst

Monday, January 23, 2006

I will never forget when my friend said to me “you can always tell a chef by their soup”. Up to this point I always thought you could tell a chef by their hat, but I didn’t know much, so I didn’t say anything and made a mental note to think more about soup and less about my hat. My friend had hired me to cook, not because I was a good cook, or because I was a cook at all. At that point I was resting on the laurels of having read a solid four years of Bon Apetit Magazine, a lifetime of Women’s Day holiday cookie pull outs, and I had a massive talent for moral support. Bless her. She taught me everything I know about professional cooking and put the fear of God in me anytime I even thought about making soup. I didn’t make soup for years after that. The same thing happened when I read this other chef said it was all in an omelette. I thought, I don’t know to cook, I can’t make an omelette. Don’t to this to yourself. First of all, no one is going to come into your kitchen and start ranking your soup. Well your family might, but there is a big fat rule in my family that if you don’t have anything nice to say about dinner then you can find something else to talk about. Anybody can make soup, as long as you practice. Think about what’s going to make it taste good. A good stock is a great place to start, before the stock even goes in, if the soup has onions in it, let the onions cook until they are really soft, a good twenty minutes on low to medium heat. Same for carrots and celery. You develop a whole new flavor when you give your soffritto (the mix of celery, carrot and onion, maybe even garlic) time to cook. Think about it like you think about love. Some things you can’t rush. Tonight though, I’m going to give you a quickie. Tomato soup. Just give about three cloves of whole garlic a little color in the pan in your best olive oil, over low heat. Add a sprig of fresh rosemary and a sprig of parsley. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, and a quarter cup of water, and simmer for half an hour. Go through it with your boat motor, or stick it in the food processor until smooth. Add organic whole milk unti it’s the color that you like it, somewhere around one part milk to one part tomato. Stir through and add salt and ground pepper to taste. If you like it cheesy, serve with grana padano, or when you are cooking the tomato, add a parmesan cheese rind, and remove it before the cheese comes to the table. For the sandwiches, butter slices of bread on one side. Cover the unbuttered side with some sharp cheddar cheese, and top with another piece of bread, buttered side out. Fry in a medium hot frying pan until the bread is browned. Flip, and cook on the other side. The cheese should be melted. Serve with something green like romaine lettuce with either your favorite creamy dressing, or olive oil, lemon and salt. You could serve the soup with an omelette instead, and you better believe I know how to make an omelette. I’ll tell you tomorrow.
5:46 pm pst

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