Saturday, September 3, 2011

Soup Happens (and sometimes it doesn't)

This has been the summer of food fails. Some of them I've written about, (the Farro Fiasco) and some I haven't... like the beautiful Plum Crisp, redolent of ripe summer days... yet tasting like bitter  betrayal. Then there were the Blueberry-Lemon-Oat Scones that never could hold it together). I can attribute all these fails (and more) to what I like to refer to as "user error". Entirely my fault, each and every time. I know what went wrong in each, and I'll make adjustments next time I try them.

Recently I made a big pot of soup. I know it's summer and I should be writing about sno-cones and sprinklers, but what the hey, we still have chilly evenings more often than not. If it's going to feel like March, I'm going to cook like it's March. The soup I made was unusual. Unusual because we didn't like it. At all.

Is it soup yet?  
It had everything going for it: lentils, vegetables, homemade stock, aromatics. It was even snuggled on the page of one of my favorite cookbooks right between two outstanding soups that we both really love. Something went terribly awry.

If I make something and it doesn't turn out, I always do a mental de-briefing, tracing over my steps and the recipe to figure out what I might have done wrong. So it was an odd feeling to realize that after all was said and done... I didn't do anything wrong... we just didn't like the soup. Simple as that.

Fix it or nix it?      
I used to work with a woman who loved food and loved to cook. She gave each new recipe exactly one chance to work. If it didn't, she moved on to the next. I'm not so confident with my kitchen skills to always assume that the problem lies with the recipe and not with my execution of it. But this time it wasn't me. It wasn't necessarily the recipe either though. My final decision on the soup is that it just wasn't a combination of flavors that the hubby and I liked. It sounded good on paper, but didn't work out for us in reality. It's not a keeper or a tweaker.

Do you stick with a recipe and tweak it until it works... or just move on without a backward glance?
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