Can we talk about seasoning?
I am a firm believer that quality ingredients make or break a meal. If your recipe only has 3 or 4 ingredients they better be the very best you can afford/find. However many a dish made with wonderful ingredients will fall flat because it isn’t seasoned well. By seasoning I am talking about just salt and pepper. And really I am mostly talking about salt.
Supposedly restaurant food tastes so much better than food prepared at home because the chef is well versed in this art of seasoning. I think this is also why people think I am a good cook- I use A LOT of salt. Have you ever watched Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell? She uses fistfulls of salt. Particularly in her bolognese sauce. Look it up.
You can’t know if food is seasoned well with out tasting it. This is something that restaurant chefs do all the time- taste, taste, and taste again. It is also a habit I have developed. In making this soup I tasted the broth over 10 times (well I lost track at 10). Each time I tasted it I adjusted the seasonings a bit. Since this recipe has potatoes it needs quite a bit of salt. Use it liberally and taste often. You should never need to add salt to food on the table. Not at a restaurant and not at home.
Now that we are clear about how much salt I believe we should use lets talk about spices. While most of my recipes have short spice lists I love a good curry with a 14 spice ingredient list as much as the next person. Spices are awesome but should never be used to mask low quality ingredients. Always use the very best (spices and ingredients) you can afford/find. One way I cut back on how much we spend on food is I don’t really buy a lot of meat. The meat I do buy I use to its fullest extent. We BBQed two chickens on Sunday and I literally ate them all week and is the chicken I used in this recipe too. I split the roast chicken with my sister and total we have had somewhere on the order of 20+ servings over six different recipes. Booyah.
Back to spices though. Spices can elevate what is a very simple recipe (chicken soup with veggies) in to something quite special and decadent. Saffron and chicken are a classic combination. The tiny, albeit expensive, amount of saffron in this recipe shines through and elevates an ordinary dinner in to something I wouldn’t be ashamed to put on a restaurant menu. If I ever do have a restaurant. A girl has got dream right?
So are we on the same page? Use great ingredients. Taste, taste, taste. Salt liberally. Use spices to kick things up a notch.
Saffron Chicken Veggie Soup (serves 8)
wildly adapted from Epicurious
3 tablespoons butter
1 chopped onion
3 diced peeled carrots
5 diced celery stalks
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 small package frozen corn kernels
4-5 medium waxy potatoes (such as red or yukon)
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (like from leftover BBQ chicken)
10 ish cups chicken stock
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme. Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, shredded chicken and saffron and bring to boil. Taste for season and salt as needed. Reduce heat; simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn and cook till all veggies are fork tender.