the good soup

The Good Soup is where recipes and the stories of their ingredients will find a permanent, and growing, home.

The stories behind ingredients. These are the philosophical heart of this blog. I’m not one to let ingredients be anonymous. I don’t think that all butter is good butter. To me, if you buy a block of butter at the supermarket, sourced from who knows where, with no sign that real farmers had the welfare of their cows and their land in their hearts when they produced it, well then, it’s not good butter. One of the main reasons for starting this blog was to focus my attention on making those links, between recipes and good ingredients. I’ll help you understand the issues at stake in food production, and what questions you need to ask retailers about their ingredients, to make sure you’re getting the real goods.

Some ingredients, like swordfish, will never find their way into this blog. It’s sad, but there are some things we just shouldn’t be eating. When I notice I am continually avoiding particular ingredients, I’ll try to explain why.

Fantastic recipes. These are the legs of this blog, and all my other meanderings will be directed by them. I will share with you the recipes that I’m inspired by, that I’m working on, that have been a hit at a catering job, or at home. If good recipes are my passion then cookbooks are my friends, my family, my lovers. I read them front to back, I sleep next to them, I pile them beside my desk to remind me of where to go next, and I leave them open, dog eared, penciled and floured to remind me of where I've been.

I'm proud of my ability to always know exactly which one (or five) to grab if I want to find a recipe a friend’s been talking about making. And I mull over dozens of them at a time when I’m trying to create a new catering menu. I flip through them, over and over, looking for atmospheric direction, and then I embellish. I create my own recipes from the layers of influence I’ve gleaned from them.

No matter how I elaborate on a recipe, I never lose sight of its lineage. And it’s this that I also intend to share with you. I want to introduce you to the cooks behind my recipes, and I want you to introduce me to yours. I want us to play with them. I don’t know about you, but when I’m attempting something new in the kitchen, say brioche for instance, I will pull out every cookbook I have that has a recipe for the stuff and try to figure out the best way through their explanations. I want to share these travels with you, and take on many new ones as well.

Finally, there’s the process of cooking. One thing I’ve learnt from my travels through professional kitchens and through cookbooks, is that there is sometimes a ravine of silence between what a recipe tells you to do and what you actually need to know to make it work. In my recipes, when I’ve learnt through my own attempts where a cook, particularly a novice one, can slip up, I’ll try to bridge this gap with detailed instructions. And I’ve also created a special area called Basic Skills,  which will start to cover some of the foundational recipes that, once you’ve become comfortable with, can lead you to more adventurous terrain.

So there you go, there’s my plan. Each week, my baby and life permitting, I’ll add a recipe, or an issue or basic skill to this blog. Down the track, I plan on much more, like book reviews and a section on where to source ingredients, but to start with, I hope you enjoy these simple beginnings, that you come back to visit often, and that you join in the conversation.

Pasteurisation, a Sour Story

Pumpkin and Lentil Soup with Basil Mayonnaise

Honey and Rosemary Cornbread

Chilli Jam

Banana Hazelnut Bread

Roasting Chicken, the Zuni Way

Dulce de Leche (homemade sweetened condensed milk)