Saturday, January 15, 2011

Good Soup into Great, Good Truck into Great

Woah. It's been, like, a month since I last posted... eek!
The short of it?
  • The soupscription service has grown from 5 customers to 22 in six weeks.
  • The truck has gone from a lard encrusted fry machine to a shiny stainless steel kitchen with custom plumbing and gorgeous details (photos to come in a full on photo post of the construction!)
  • The truck is totally stylin'. It's ubercute. Wait for the reveal... I know you are :-)
  • My brother Les is a genius to have built/organized/styled up the truck.
  • I open soon, but have no actual date. I do think this fact alone may be responsible for the throbby vein in at the base of my skull.
  • Suppliers are all coming together/have come together, including Funny Duck Farms and an organic supplier who has organic Quebec leeks! Yippee!
  • I have great help on board with Clare, who is going to be working with me in the teeny space- and is patient with the opening date fiasco.
So, the truck is really being done with loads of love- my bro Les, his buddy Shanger, contractor Sean and my buddy Jer are, despite my get-'er-done desires, taking care of details I never even knew existed. It's taking time, but it's beautiful.  It's definitely gone from good to great- due to the attention and love (and line of credit).

This week saw two interviews- one with Ontario's Own, where Jodi Lastman and I talked about waste and how to avoid it, and the other with Shawna Wagman at Ottawa Magazine.  It's really interesting how keen people are on this idea. It seems it's time has come... Shawna asked me how to turn good soup into great, and after some thought, here's what I came up with.

You need to start with good stock. It's really key to have a solid base to work from- and preferably one that incorporates the flavours in your soup. For example, a basic vegetable stock (onions, carrots, celery, leeks and herbs in water with salt) can be augmented with lemongrass and some chili for a Thai soup, which increases the depth of flavour. Japanese dashi kombu adds a beautiful depth to vegetable stocks as well- and adds some of the umami flavour that can be missing from many vegetable broths.

Balancing your acid, salt and sweetness is always really key as well. Having wine, some type of vinegar, lime or lemon juice (or a combination!) to deglaze your pan and then to finish the soup with creates a layer of flavour that you just can't get any other way. A smidgen of sweetness complements many soups (but not all!).  I often use balsamic, honey, maple syrup or mirin (which is a Japanese rice based sweet vinegar) when I am finishing the seasoning of my soups. Enough salt is also key.  There's a fine line there- especially with so many people being conscious of their sodium intake.

The third part of a great soup is time- although this isn't true for all soups, it's certainly true for stocks. Time to simmer to allow the flavours to marry, time for everything to get together. Beef stock takes at least twelve hours to cook, then there's the skimming and the actual cooking of the soup- which can take another three or four hours as well.  Lots of time also allows you to put in lots of love- and that is always pretty key for making anything great!


Erin said...

Can't wait to see pictures of the Soup Truck!

Big Sistah said...

Yum! Congrats to everyone working on the truck but especially my sistah!