Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kitchen experimentation

I'd like to show you the result of my turkey soup experiment last weekend. Can't. Camera is a 2-hour drive away, and my cell phone is ancient technology -- it's from 2001 -- and has no camera attached to it. I'm going to have to make do with description.

Luckily, I can do that.

So how'd it go? The short answer is: Next time, more seasoning, less pasta.

All the recipes I found on the web were very explicit about what herbs should go in the stock, but then when it came to making the soup it was all, "Eh, just throw some herbs in."

So I put in the same things I used in the stock--bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, tarragon, peppercorns -- these last I put in a tea ball and attached to the side of the pot. When my mother makes soup she just tosses them in and leaves them there. This makes eating soup a lot like walking in a minefield. Those little buggers like to hide in the vegetables, so there's always a risk of CHOMP=OW! Then I sprinkled a little poultry seasoning in. Not sure of measurements and not wanting to be overpowered by seasoning, I just used sprinkles of this and pinches of that.

Then I tossed in about a cup of orzo, about half the box. I thought it looked so cute in the store, like little grains of rice.

I set things to simmer, knowing it would take a while because the carrots had to cook all the way through. Did I mention the veggies I put in? No, I can see now that I didn't. Carrots, celery, onion, minced garlic, and then from the CSA stash: green beans, wax beans, kale. I also put in some of the stewed tomatoes I made last summer and a can of creamed corn. Oh, and I also put in all the leftover turkey meat, shredded into bite-size bits.

So anyway, I check an hour later. Stirring the pot a bit, I'm surprised that I don't see much of the orzo. So I dump in the other half of the box, stir, put the lid back on the pot, and wait another hour or so.

Can you see where this is going? And can you spot what I missed in the seasoning?

When the soup only had about half an hour to go, I popped open a tube of dough and made some biscuits. Got my timing just right on that one. Biscuits came out and were on the racks just as the soup hit the "done" mark.

I ladled out some soup, and I had no trouble finding the orzo now. They were much larger, and there sure were a lot of them. Took a taste from my bowl, and I have to say, it was like a mouth full of nothing. It needed something. Something basic. Something like...salt! Oh, for pity's sake. No salt at all in the soup. And all the time I kept stirring and tasting and thinking it didn't taste like much, I kept expecting things would change as it got hotter. Dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I salted the bowl, then went and salted the pot. It was still hot in the pot, so I hoped for the best.

Later, as I went to pack the soup for storage, it looked like the orzo was still getting bigger, and there wasn't very much broth at all. I set 2 big containers into the freezer, one in the fridge, and had enough left for two small containers -- there's lunch for the next two days at work.

Leftovers, day 1: This is turning from turkey noodle soup to noodle soup with turkey. And it still needs salt.

Day 2: I have officially named this Turkey Concrete.

Day 3: The container in the fridge looks like a casserole, not like soup.

Today I have taken that container and dumped it into a pot (it was like noodle pudding or something), mixed in 1/2 a carton of chicken broth, more salt, some of every herb or spice I think might go with this stuff, and set it on the stove to simmer.

Next time I do this, I'm not using orzo. Dang, those little guys soak up liquid. Maybe I'll use rice. Or egg noodles. And I must remember to be more patient with the starchy stuff. It'll expand (boy, will it ever!), I just need to wait.

And salt! Don't forget the freakin' salt.

Update: Lunch has been eaten. Much better. Next container's worth, though, will not be getting red pepper flakes and cayenne and paprika. I'll probably keep the paprika and cut out the flakes.


Anonymous said...

Just read you to my husband. He says, "she's good." You bet!
Your cooking event reminds me of the I Love Lucy episode in which Ricky and Fred cook dinner for their candy making wives. The best.

Just Me said...

For what it's worth, my mom would pre-cook the orzo or the rice or the barley (especially barley!) before adding it to her soup for this very reason.

Over all, your soup experiment sounds good. I love soup with mountains of vegetables.