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