Just taste the soup. (KALE LIME SOUP)

May 3, 2011

The last post has had me thinking about tasting food at all stages of preparation and all the people I see not doing it. Getting into this habit makes one a better and more confident cook for the long haul. And until you are a salty old chef like my former boss who can cook anything with his eyes closed and a beer in his hand, you should remember to practice it. Sampling and adjusting will keep you in control of what you are creating with an end result of a well-executed dish done thoughtfully.

Recipes are only fighting half of the battle. With so many floating around on TV, the internet and in magazines it is very important to not be overly dependent or trusting of every word. The goal is to develop instincts as you handle food, giving some attention to the words while constantly forming an understanding of what ingredients will do together or how they will react to different treatments, etc. Soon you will know exactly when the chicken breast is sufficiently browned and how to substitute whole grain flours all by yourself. Recipes act as loose guidelines, like suggestions, and you can create things in your own style. Power!

Here is a recipe. An easy one. It tells you what to do but it wants to play just a little. It’s a quick, restorative soup that is passable without being properly seasoned but when done right, it is completely awesome. Fish sauce, soy and lime season the broth. No one can tell you how you like it. Find the balance. Understand the balance. Enjoy.


(serves 4)

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, chopped

1 parsnip, chopped

4 cups veg or chicken stock

1 tablespoon soy sauce or to taste

1 tablespoon fish sauce or to taste

3 cups kale, chopped into one inch pieces

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish

2-3 limes

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

sriracha (optional but strongly recommended)

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the onion until softened. Add garlic, carrot, parsnip and cook 3 minutes more.
  • Add stock, boil and reduce heat. Season with soy and fish sauce. Taste it! Adjust.
  • Simmer 5-10 minutes. Add kale and cook until all vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Taste them!
  • Add 2 tablespoons cilantro at the last minute and squeeze a lime into the soup. Taste it again! Adjust more.
  • Cut the other limes into wedges and serve as garnish along with jalapeno slices and extra cilantro and sriracha, if using.

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