Wednesday, May 7, 2008


This is a dish which really does not require a recipe. I’ve made it a thousand times, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve never made it the same way twice. Last weekend, the ingredients I had on hand included: chicken broth, canned diced tomato, red onion, carrots, eight ball zucchini, swiss chard, kale, canned red kidney beans, red potatoes, and bay, sage, thyme, and parsley from my herb garden. Since I had potatoes to use, I chose to leave out the usual pasta. The noteworthy experience came at the end of the cooking time. As I tasted the soup again and considered the flavor and seasoning, I first thought: more salt. Then, I realized: no, not salt, acid. In A Return to Cooking, Eric Ripert discussed balanced flavor and the use of acid, and this came to mind along with a quote from last week’s Top Chef. During the quick fire challenge, guest judge Art Smith said of the lime in a dish “chefs don’t think of using acid as often as they should.” Of course, vinegar or lemon juice added to a soup at the end of the cooking time will brighten the flavor, but when throwing things in a pot and doing five other things while waiting for the soup to cook it could slip one’s mind. A tablespoon or two of sherry vinegar added to the five quarts or so of soup made this minestrone perfect, and henceforth I’ll remember to reach for acid to balance flavors.


  1. This looks really good. And gluten-free, too! That's interesting about using an acid instead of adding salt. John has been onto that concept--it helps things out a lot. I'll have to check out that Eric Reipert book.


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