Saturday, April 26, 2008

Immersion Blender: A Love Affair

My love affair with the immersion blender continues, as I once again made soup.

Today I worked on pear and sweet potato soup, which was in my big soup cookbook. I like that cookbook, but it causes me trouble sometimes. I got it at Barnes and Noble on the discount rack (where most of my cookbooks come from), but it’s British and I occasionally have cultural issues with it, like knowing that “pumpkin” actually applies to any variety of squash and that “tinned” means “canned”. I have no idea what “rocket” is, other than that it is green and leafy, and I also have to keep conversion charts handy, as my measuring cups aren’t labeled for liters or grams.

The real problem with it is that some of the recipes are decidedly non-specific, like the one I used today. It called for a “small white onion”. Small? Does that mean smaller than all the other onions in the bin? The size of a half dollar? A tennis ball? A quarter? How small is a small onion? While I’m complaining, what kind of pear is a “firm pear”? They can tell me how many ounces of raw sweet potato I need, but not how many of onion?

If the soup recipes didn’t turn out so I would have taken this cookbook to the used bookstore a while ago.

Between the last time I used onions in a recipe and today, my chopper broke, and I had to throw it away. I like the taste of onions, but not the texture, so I always chop the hell out of them until they are somewhere between “ultra-fine dice” and “wet smear that used to be a vegetable”. Given the option of dragging out the food processor to paste my onion or cutting it up with the knife that I had to use on the pears and sweet potatoes anyway, I decided to just get one thing dirty and chop them myself. After a little experimentation and thinking about “Top Chef”, I figured out how to rapidly get the onion chopped down to the pieces I like, and the only trouble was that my eyes were tearing so badly I had to leave the kitchen to blot them.

Onions are terrible, terrible things to chop.

Pears, on the other hand, are rather easy:


So are sweet potatoes, which were somewhat drier than I expected:

pears and sweet potatoes

Sticking with my “get as few things dirty as possible” mentality even though I have the dishwasher, I put everything in the same container as I chopped. I’m practically an environmentalist with the way I cut down on dishwasher loads.

After cooking the onion down in butter, I added the pears, sweet potatoes, and chicken stock, and then ignored it for twenty minutes or so:


And yeah, I know I need to clean the stove burner cover under that pot. Also, the reason the pot looks so beat up is that it’s 38 years old. I cook in the pots and pans that my parents got as a wedding gift, as my moving into an apartment and needing a set of my own was my mother’s excuse to finally get a new set.

Anyway, after everything was pretty well cooked down, I decided to hit it with the blender. I learned after the apple cheese soup that it works better if everything is in smaller pieces, not in quarter of an apple sized chunks, and the blending was much faster:

immersion blender

Now, having eaten a bowl and put the leftovers in the fridge, I’m already trying to figure out what I can use the immersion blender on next.


Suki said...

Rocket = arugula
You could probably substitute any delicate leafy green for that and it would work OK (delicate meaning like baby spinach or mache or lettuces... not like kale or chard)

Also, aubergines = eggplant just in case if you see that and didn't already know.

Nan said...

joel, that soup looks delicious. you are quite the cook!