Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 26, 2011

A Dirty Little Secret and a Spicy Solution

I’m not just a baker.  I cook too.  There, it’s out in the open now.

There are limits – I don’t deep fry, poach, or steam anything.  I am, however, pretty damn good with saute-ing, braising, simmering, roasting, and even slow-cooking.  I like picking up something new at the farmer’s market and seeing what I can do with it. I love looking at cookbooks, and subscribe to two cooking magazines.

I’m very good about picking recipes that freeze well, making too much for me (easy when you live alone) and then putting two servings per container in the freezer.  I still have leftover soups and chili in the freezer from last winter, when I cooked big batches of them.

I’m not so good, however, about labeling things.  Usually I can tell what’s inside: red lentil soup v. green lentil and kale soup v. greens-n-beans soup v.  tomatillo-chile soup.  On the other hand, carrot ginger soup looks like pumpkin soup, and white bean soup looks like sunchoke soup.  I don’t particularly care about the carrot v. the pumpkin, because I really liked both soups.  The problem, however, was with the white soups.

The white bean soup, a recipe from Brenna, is one of my favorites.  Now, I’d been wanting to try sunchokes for a few years, but rarely saw them in the store.  I found them at the farmer’s market last winter, and was excited to buy them and try them out.  At a few friends’ recommendation, I made a sunchoke soup*.  It wasn’t very good.  I think I found a way to make it more palatable at the time, but not to make it particularly good.  It was edible, though, so I froze about half of it.

Now that the semester has started again, I don’t necessarily feel like cooking (or don’t have much time), but I try not to eat much take-out.  A couple of days ago, I put what I thought was white bean soup in the fridge to thaw.  Tonight, looking forward to white bean soup, I realized from the smell that it was sunchoke soup.  Damn.

As I heated it up, I was trying to think of a way to make it taste better.  For a change, I didn’t think the answer was going to be parmesan.  I considered yogurt, and then hit on a new idea: salsa!  This is a reminder that I’ve been living in Tucson for a long time.  And you know what? It totally worked!  The coffee-infused salsa (also from the St. Philip’s Plaza Sunday Farmer’s Market) was the perfect solution to that soup.  I’m still not going to make it again, but I’m not dreading the second half of the leftover container.

So here’s my list of options to try to improve mediocre foods: salt, olive oil, lemon, smoked paprika (possibly all four), butter, balsamic vinegar, parmesan, yogurt (especially for soups/ stews), and SALSA!!!

*I also tried sauteing it with mizuna or another green.  I still wasn’t a fan.



  1. Don’t forget the glass of wine. That’ll make anything taste better!

  2. Oh, man!!! I knew I was forgetting something! That pinot grigio in my fridge would have been great with this soup (and the cheese toast).

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