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The Five Cooking Mistakes I’ve Been Making (As Told To Me By A Chef)

There has been a lot of concern surrounding my fingers, with you generally fearful that I’d lose one of my 10 sausage-like appendages in my pursuit of soup. I chop recklessly, and although I haven’t cut myself seriously yet (unless you saw Thursday’s IGTV), it’s pretty terrifying (if not riveting) to watch. So I reached out to a friend, Tyler Wells, owner/chef at All Time (one of my FAVORITE restaurants in LA and likely my favorite in Los Feliz), and he offered to come over to tell me all the things I’m doing wrong. Nice guy. Turns out chopping isn’t my only problem. I’m prolific at soups, which doesn’t necessarily mean GOOD at them, I just cook them a lot. So when he offered to watch me and criticize/suggest the right way to do it, I gladly said yes.

Mistake #1: Dangerously Bad Knife Skills

I knew I wasn’t doing it right, mostly because literally everyone has told me “YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.” But I’m not here to tell you how to do it, there are literally one million cooking blogs and videos about it. However, Tyler did teach me some handy tricks that I think are super useful.

Here was me before – fingers outstretched, teasing the knife with their vulnerability and sausage-like mimicry.

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Tyler taught me how to rest it next to my knuckles, tuck those fingers tips in, leave the tip of the knife on the cutting board, to use a rocking motion and MIND THOSE PINKIES. I guess it’s easy to remember to keep #2, #3, and #4 fingers safe, but those pinkies and thumbs can slip out.

Look at me now!

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You can see the veins of stress in my hand and obviously I’m not relaxed. It’s a lot harder to be safe until you get used to it and takes concentration – appropriate I suppose for using a sharp object. Some day I will become one of those pretentiously fast show-off home chefs.

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Mistake #2: Salting Too Early

I salt with the onions and garlic, but Tyler suggested (I know this is going to be controversial) that I wait ’til the carrots/celery are in there to salt.. and then to salt a lot. He said that you can over or under salt if you try to do it at every stage (because you don’t remember what you’ve done unless you are super on top of it), so he suggests waiting. He also suggests waiting to add garlic, because it can burn – but he also says garlic is over-rated… wut?

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Mistake #3: Not waiting Til Pot Was Hot Before Oil, Nor Oil Was Hot Before Onions…

I just threw a pot on the burner, poured in the oil then poured in the onion. I don’t remember why this was important, but it was something about the pan needing to heat up and expand before oil got poured in for more evenness. And then something about the onion cooking in the oil right away, instead of just soaking up the oil until the oil was hot enough to start cooking it. I am a very good student.

He also stressed that this was NOT a big deal, but technically, yes it was a failing.

Mistake #4: Putting Dried Herbs In Too Late

Most of you know this, but for those who don’t, you put in dried herbs in your mirepoix (chopped veggie base), but your fresh herbs at the end. Dried herbs need to be rehydrated in order to release their flavor, versus fresh herbs which are gonna dial up the flavor factor in a lot less time and run the risk of overcooking.

Mistake #5: Cooking Chicken Breasts And Legs For The Same Amount Of Time

Nobody told me that darker meat takes longer to cook. Whoops. When I’m doing bone-in soup, I’ve typically put the whole chicken in at once. But it turns out that the white meat cooks faster, so your breasts should come out a bit sooner than those chicken legs to avoid drying out. There’s nothing worse than dry chicken in a wet soup.

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Thank you so much, Tyler for the solicited criticism (and the time and expertise to help me actually make a good soup).

Now for the recipe of the soup we made that day, as it was DELICIOUS. It was basically just all the veggies that I had leftover, plus a bunch of fresh veggies from Imperfect Foods (who sponsored the IGTV).

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“Everything But The Kitchen Sink” Chicken & Veggie Soup


  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch Celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 8 cups handfuls leafy green of choice (basically a massive amount of greens)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (for sautéing)
  • 6 cups broth of choice (I use chicken bone broth)
  • 32oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herb blend
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Allow pan to heat, then add avocado oil. Allow oil to heat, then sauteé onion, carrot, celery, garlic powder, red chili pepper, and dried herbs until onions are translucent and soft. Add garlic, salt, and pepper and sauteé and additional minute. Deglaze your pot with 1/2 cup of broth, making sure you’re using your spoon or rubber spatula to really get any crispy onion or garlic bits off the bottom of the pan. Add in the rest of your broth (4-6 cups), along with the 32 ounces can of diced tomatoes, and raw chicken breasts. Let cook for 15 minutes, on medium heat (to allow the chicken to cook). After 15 minutes use tongs to pull out your chicken breast and shred with a fork. Slide that chicken back in, followed by the broccoli, zucchini, and yellow peppers. Taste, add more salt or pepper if needed, and finish by adding two handfuls of the leafy green of your choice right before serving (kale takes longer than spinach to wilt).

At this point, you might be a soup convert and desperate for more soup recipes. DON’T PANIC, we’ve got you covered. Here are more of our favorite soup recipes.

Healthy (& Hearty) Beef & Vegetable Stew

Ok, so this first one isn’t a soup, but it is exactly what it claims to be – Healthy AND hearty. Lean beef swims around with tons of colorful veggies, all while being dairy-free, gluten-free, and grain-free.

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Vegan Chickpea & Cauliflower Curry Soup

This vegan is still a much-loved favorite in the EHD office. It’s totally vegan, while still being rich, creamy, and filling.

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Vegan Zuppa Toscana

You’ll have to scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe, but it’s Sara’s riff on her favorite guilty pleasure – Olive Garden’s “Zuppa Toscana.” Theirs is filled with sausage and cream, ours is filled with coconut milk and veggies.

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Homemade Bone Broth & Chicken Meatball Soup

When I first started making soups I was using boxed broth, which is totally fine. But then I started making my own broths and essentially became a professional chef. Mostly it’s just super enjoyable because I know exactly what’s going into the flavoring of my broth, and I can recycle my leftover veggie scraps from other soups in the making of it.

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Fast & Simple Veggie-Packed Vegan Pho

Is this a traditional pho recipe? No, we take a few shortcuts and make a few swaps. But it’s still crazy delicious and satisfies that pho craving. Plus it’s full of bright veggies, with not an animal product in sight.

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Ok, that’s it for soup related content for today. Anyone got any other common cooking mistakes they were making up until recently? I’m ready to continue my cooking education…

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4 years ago

Your links in FB have not been working lately and I signed up to get the blog by email a few weeks ago, and again today, and have not yet received it. I love your blog but this is very frustrating. I don’t even see where you have addressed the issue on FB. Please fix these issues so we can all enjoy your content without frustration. Thanks.

4 years ago
4 years ago
Reply to  Lauren

A food processor can also handle chopping/dicing/mincing, and works for all kinds of other things too! I have a small kitchen so I try to avoid buying things that only serve one purpose – I’m sure others are in the same boat.

4 years ago
Reply to  isabelle

Yes! Food processors do so many things. Totally essential.

I also can’t recommend a knife skills class more. Totally changed my efficiency in the kitchen so that chopping/dicing/mincing takes a lot less time and makes it less of a chore.

4 years ago

Garlic powder?? Man, you neeeeed to buy a garlic crusher and fresh garlic! All the research about the garlic oils being the best bits!
Oh, the difference freshly crushed garlic makes! Yummo!

4 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

I agree, fresh garlic is a must and yes, it should not be added in the first heap with onions.
Also paprika (either smoked or Hungarian) should be added last as it tends to get bitter.
I prefer fresh herbs (for us living in SoCal it’s easy to buy). Depending on the ingredients –
potatoes, kale and cabbages are not as easy digestible and to counter act this a 1/2 teasp. of
cumin and/or caraway seeds is recommended. An added laurel leaf is always a good idea too!
All your soups look so inviting and delicious!

LA Lady
4 years ago

How long does this take you from start to finish? I’m an inexperienced chopper too so I’m trying to figure out how much time to allocate.

4 years ago
Reply to  LA Lady

I would suggest doing all your chopping and ingredient prep before you even begin cooking – this is part of “mise en place.” The time required will really depend on skill and comfort level, so give yourself as much time as you need to do it without feeling rushed or distracted. You can always step away for a moment if you need to, since the stove isn’t on yet. I have a small kitchen with no dishwasher so I try to prepare every ingredient and line them up (in small bowls or measuring cups) in the order I’ll need them. Then I wash and put away cutting boards, knives, etc that I used in the process. That way by the time I begin cooking the kitchen is as clean as possible and I can clean as I go. It works well, is time efficient and much less stressful than trying to chop AND keep an eye on the stove, or being left with a giant mess to tackle after dinner.

4 years ago
Reply to  isabelle

Yes! I learned this very early on from my dad who used to be a chef and it’s one of the best kitchen skills. I try to chop everything beforehand, sometime I’ll even do it the day before I plan to cook, especially if I’m going meal prep or I’m having people over. It’s also very handy to do when you’re making a stir fry. Also, when cooking veggies start with they hardest veggies first. Carrots, potatoes, etc and end with the ones that cook the fastest. That way nothing gets overcooked and mushy.

4 years ago

The directions only say to add 2 handfuls of greens at the end. What about the other 6 cups?

4 years ago
Reply to  Lori

Assuming adding 2 hands full of greens to the individual soup bowls before filling with hot soup? My assumption, that’s what we do here at home. The greens wilt just enough, and don’t become soggy.
We enjoyed this post and the soup recipes!

4 years ago
Reply to  Lori

I was wondering about that, too. All the greens would be added at the end, to wilt, so maybe just eyeball how much you want.

Roberta Davis
4 years ago

Thanks! I saved the vegan recipes and will make them soon! I already knew these tips from watching years and years of the food network- when they actually offered educational programming.

4 years ago

LOVE the mention of your fingers and their “sausage-like mimicry”! ?

Vicki D. Howe
4 years ago

That’s what I call my veggie soup. ‘Kitchen sink’ soup.

4 years ago

Can I just say that All Time makes what might just be the best french toast, ever. It’s the best cafe in Los Feliz.

4 years ago

Love the denim apron. Where can I get one?

Pete Bendoris
4 years ago

Acceptance is the first step.. lol. Great piece. We all do things wrong but somehow put food on the table.

Lisa Hamel
4 years ago

I was *the worst* at storing vegetables properly–like just putting a whole carrot in the drawer, open to the air. It was dried out and bendy within days. I wasted so much produce this way!

4 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Hamel

Wait, what are we supposed to be doing? (asking for a friend…)

4 years ago

I am guilty of having terrible knife skills! I know how to do it correctly, I just can’t get in the habit!

Also, I must know where this denim apron is from – so cute!

4 years ago

So glad the souping keeps going! Have loved all the soup recipes from here that I’ve tried so far, so I’m excited for new ones!

4 years ago

These all look so good! Thank you for sharing!!