I had a little trouble with lighting in these pictures, but it was the best I could do.
And I didn't realize until later that the little piece of grilled cheese sandwich peeking out of my bowl of soup looked kind of like the Jaws shark fin...
2016 Bookish Resolution Challenge: Learn 12 New Recipes.
The first thing to note is that I really suck at following recipes to the exact direction. In which case, I always screw up in one way or another. HOWEVER, after screwing up, I make mental notes so that I know what NOT to do next time. In this case, I shall be making my notes on paper so that I actually remember how to better make this recipe.
Second thing to note is, that upon making this resolution for my challenge this year, I am not exactly a gourmet chef... or really a good one either. I'm decent in the kitchen and can make quick, basic dishes such as my mom's simple egg fried rice (add your own optional meat or other), a simple cream-style corn egg drop soup, grilled ham and cheese, grilled burgers, grilled anything...
I do other quick recipes such as taco meat using pre-mixed, store bought taco seasoning, ground beef, and diced onions. One of my mom's favorite quick-and-easy meals that I make include two jars of store-bought Alfredo sauce, some roasted chicken, mushrooms, and angel-hair pasta.
I recently learned how to make a Creamy Sweet Peanut Soup and did a "Take Two" attempt at Cheesy Corn Casserole (which came out much more awesome than the first time, by the way).
But otherwise, the extent of my cooking skills involve taking what my mother has pre-marinated and putting it on the stove.
I suppose it's not like I don't have any kitchen skills. I just don't have any of my own.
Anyway... back to the recipe.
For a more tangible, sensible recipe, it's probably best if you follow the one I've linked at the beginning of this post. Otherwise, we can all try to make sense of my mess in the following:
(more or less)
3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 and a half Tablespoon of minced garlic, pre-soaked from it's dry form
2 teaspoons of tomato paste
2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
4 teaspoons of dry, crushed basil leaves
2 cups of chicken broth
half a cup of Greek yogurt (or something like that)
(Also known as: My chaotic attempt at cooking.)
I've always been a sucker for tomato bisque soup. It's one of my favorites. Granted, dairy doesn't sit well in my stomach, but it doesn't stop me from eating what I love. So I went hunting for a dairy-free tomato bisque--they aren't exactly the easiest to find, but the one I did manage to come up with is close.
And, to be honest, the recipe is an easy one if I would just follow it properly--I mean, it involves a lot of canned stuff and a blender, so it's not like it was rocket science or anything. But with a confidence that I'm not sure where it came from, I glanced at the ingredients and said, "Let's substitute a few things and fudge a few others."
- Fresh basil leaves became pre-crushed, dry basil leaf seasoning.
- Two cloves of garlic ended up being one and a half tablespoon minced garlic, pre-soaked, in a jar that we usually keep in the fridge for typical stir-fry.
- A fourth cup of tomato paste ended up being two teaspoons of "I think that looks like two teaspoons of" tomato paste--although after extensive discussion with a friend, I realize that two teaspoons of tomato paste DOES NOT equal a fourth cup of tomato paste and I should have consulted my measurement conversions, because I'm ignorant. In fact, I should have used four Tablespoons.
- Half a teaspoon of black pepper turned into ten vigorous dashes of black pepper from a container that wouldn't give up the damn pepper.
- The one can of chicken broth I bought only had fourteen ounces, so I had to make do with adding a little more water and then making up for taste later using chicken stock during the simmering process.
- Half a teaspoon of salt ended up becoming: "Hmm, let's add some more chicken stock to that... No, now I need more water."
- "Oh, and how about a pinch of sugar and a bit of shredded cheese."
I think the shredded cheese screwed me over, because, again, I'm ignorant.
Because then my "creamy" tomato bisque ended up being a simple tomato basil soup with the consistency of something grainy because the shredded cheese didn't so much melt into the soup as it formed little curdled clumps all over the place.
Anyway, there was sautéing involved with the garlic and onions, a lot of blending of the tomatoes, garlic, onions, chicken broth and everything else with our fancy Ninja blender. And either I got the portions wrong, or we just have a small blender. I had to divide the ingredients into two separate blends to make it work.
Then there was some simmering in a pot... and other stuff... like trying to strain the bits of chunks of cheese out of my soup to try and make the consistency a little less grainy. In my attempt to strain the cheese chunks back out, I think I ended up losing a good portion of the soup.
Overall, not a bad experience, I'd say. At least everyone seemed to think it tasted just fine.
My family is great like that.
So... first attempt at a new recipe: Kind of a fail.
At least the taste was still good. But now I know what to do to make it better and what NOT to do to not screw it up.
Also, the whole using Greek yogurt thing to make the tomato bisque "creamy" wasn't a bad idea. But I think it might require a bit more than what I put in. Instead, I had to add a little bit of cornstarch and water mix to thicken the soup up a little bit. And also, Greek yogurt will curdle if added to hot soup immediately after taking it off the range.
So on top of the small shredded cheese curdled bits, I also had some random larger yogurt curdles to go with it.
Tips for trying this recipe next time:
- Do not add shredded cheese before the soup is actually done. In fact, let's just leave out the shredded cheese period except as a garnish.
- Pre-stir the Greek yogurt into something liquid-y before stirring it into the big pot of soup to avoid more curdling--like maybe a small, aliquot of cooled soup, or coconut milk or any other non-dairy option.
- Puree the tomato, onions, garlic, and chicken broth a bit longer in the blender for a smoother consistency.
- Get the measurement of certain ingredients correct (**coughcough**tomatopaste**coughcough**).
As an added bonus:
I made a grilled Cracker Barrel Havarti cheese and pesto sandwich, then sliced it into small, bite sized pieces to eat with the soup.
On top of that, we also had Chicken Alfredo with mushrooms and bacon bits on angel hair pasta as part of dinner.
While the tomato bisque turned into a regular tomato basil soup, the rest of dinner was pretty much a success.