Monthly Archives: August 2020

Great Chef Knives In The Kitchen

Having chef knives that are well made and kept in good shape is very important to an enjoyable cooking experience, as anyone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen will tell you. Soup preparation can involve a lot of peeling and chopping, so the right tools for the task are a must.

You can skimp on other items of cookware, but having a good, solid set of knives is really important. Without high quality chef choice knives, or some other well made brand, you will have a hard time getting your food prepared in the way that you want it to be, and cooking will simply be a lot less fun to do.

Of course, once you have good knives, you should keep them in good shape, or else what is the point. Keeping them in tip top condition is a lot easier than you might think, and let’s take a look at the whys and hows.

Before I got my knife sharpener, I used to buy a lot of serrated knives. I figured that, using serrated knives, I could get by easily without a chefs sharpener, and still have effective cookware. As it turns out, however, these cheaper cooking knives are bad news. The fact is that they do not perform as well as a well maintained knife. Using the better quality knives along just makes more sense, as the lesser knives tend to go dull and then it is game over for them. There is just no way to sharpen a spent serrated knife, after all. I have found that using a knife sharpener will only ruin them, if they weren’t useless enough already!

Of course, sharpeners and good quality knives are probably the most important part of cooking in terms of preparation of ingredients, but far from the only thing that you need to have a successful time making all of your favourite meals. In addition, a good cutting board is needed to prepare food on. You can keep your knives razor sharp, but without a good cutting board, this will not be a help, as they will only ruin your bad ones. That is why you mist make sure each part of your kitchen is working well. Otherwise, you are likely to run into a lot of trouble down the road, with or without your knife sets. You do not need to get everything all at once, but can instead opt to pick up the items that you need one by one.

Having the best in your kitchen is something that will cost a lot of money, but it will pay you back in time. Great food comes from great ingredients, but also stems from a passion for cooking. That enthusiasm will soon wane if you have poor quality equipment, and in turn your results might suffer.

It’s far better to gradually build up your kitchen kit, adding reputable brands of cookware as required. Before you know it you’ll have everything you need, and having avoided the temptation to buy cheap, the frustration of poor tools will be avoided.

Making Soup

Inspired by my friends and fitness addicts online, I’ve fallen into making soup all the time!  There are so many benefits, I’ve simply become obsessed.  Whatever soup I’ve decided to make, I aim to use simple ingredients.  The less complex ingredients necessary, the less preparation I need to do!  Just 3 or 4 humble ingredients in some cases can make my most amazing soups.

As well as wanting simple ingredients, using fresh ingredients as much as possible makes me feel like I’m being extra healthy and usually makes the soup I’m making a great hit.  I try and aim for as wide a range of my 5 a day fruit and vegetables as I can so I know that the effort of making my own soup is worth it.

Finally, my latest discovery that’s become part of my obsession is a soup maker.  I’ve always used pans and hand-held blenders since I started but recently a friend recommended getting a soup maker.  Very kind to share her thoughts but I wasn’t bothered about having one until she got me go around for a soup treat, made by her and her Tefal machine.  Now I have my own soup maker!

My Favourite Soup

My favourite home-made soup so far is carrot, swede and broccoli.  I keep it as simple as I can.  I use a single pack of chopped carrot and swede, a whole broccoli, a vegetable stock cube and water.  There are loads of different of stock cube brands out there and its up to you which you use but I tend to go for Knorr vegetable stock.

Cooking It On The Hob

The first thing I do is I empty the pack of chopped carrot and swede into a big pan and add water.   I don’t add the same amount of water all the time.  If I want thick soup, I simply make sure the veg is covered (and keep an eye on it) and if I want it to be runnier, I add more water.  For me I usually simply put in enough to cover the veg; I can always add more if I need or want to.

So, once the water’s in the pan I turn the hob on on a medium heat.   There will be instructions on the packet the veg came out of to tell you how long to boil it for.  Generally, I leave it on for around 20 minutes until the carrot and swede pieces have started to become softer.

Whilst they are boiling, I chop up the broccoli into equal sized pieces.  I tend to chop them based on what the broccoli I’ve bought is like so if the pieces you chop are roughly the same size, they all tend to cook at around the same speed.  The softer you want the broccoli to become, the earlier you should add it to the boiling carrot and swede.

Generally, the longer you cook it for the softer it gets.  I usually want to head towards it starting to get soft so its easy to blend but some people prefer it harder; it’s up to you to choose what to do.  As a helpful guide, BBC good food recommend cooking it for 3-6 minutes based on the size of the pieces you’ve created. As a side note, the BBC have tons of great soup recipes too.

My broccoli is usually added around 15 minutes into the carrot and swede cooking, with extra boiling water from the kettle if I need more.  At the same time, I also add the vegetable stock cube, crumbling it into the water with the vegetables and stirring it around.

Once I think the vegetables are cooked, I turn the cooker off.  Next, I get out my hand-held blender and purée the vegetables together.  From my own experience, don’t forgot to blend carefully! I tend to do the blending in the pan but depending on the type of pan you’re using you might want or need to blend it in different container like a large beaker or jug.

I tend to blend the soup till its smooth most of the time.  If it’s thicker than you want it to be you can add more water.  I like my soup thick so generally I don’t bother.  The next step I take, being careful the temperature of the soup is safe, is tasting it!  Sometimes I add black pepper, sometimes I simply leave it as it is and serve it straight away.  With the amount of vegetables used to make the soup, I often end up with about 3-4 portions of soup but not always!  The thicker I make the soup the fewer portions there tends to be.

Using A Soup Maker

Now I’ve got my soup maker I have even less to do! The first thing I do is get the machine out and plug it in.  Next, I get all the ingredients out and ready to add to the machine.  Following the instructions that came with it, I add the vegetables, stock cube and water to the maker, put the lid securely back on and select the programme I want.

And that’s all I need to do, other than wait for it to be cooked!  The machine heats and blends the soup for me so when I come back it’s cooked and ready for me to eat.  It’s taken using it a few times to work out which setting I find best, but now, unless I want to make it step by step and pass time by, the soup maker is my latest love of soup making.