Take Your Regular Tomato Soup Recipe up a Notch

When someone asks what’s your favorite summery dish, a tomato soup won’t exactly be your first choice. Well, as soon as you’ve finished reading this post I can guarantee it will become your go-to recipe this summer.

First of all, tomato soups are satiating. Top them with some cheese or fried bacon and enjoy a bowl of creamy pleasure. Second, they are affordable and third, and most important: preparing tomato soup recipes is a breeze!

What Should the Best Tomato Soup Include

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Well besides the very obvious ingredient – tomatoes, your soup should also contain a liquid (this can be either water or broth). If you think about it, tomatoes contain plenty of water themselves, but to prepare a soup you would need a tiny bit more liquid. For this reason, you can choose anything from vegetable stocks to chicken stocks and light beef stocks even. Next, you can’t forget the herbs and flavorings. Regardless of whether you opt for basil, oregano, or veggies like garlic, onions, and carrots, make sure you use fresh ingredients. The soup will warm the herbs just enough for them to release lovely aromas that will make your kitchen smell like heaven and your tomato soup to be as delicious as ever.

What Type of Tomatoes to Use in your Tomato Soup Recipe

As I have already said, the right tomatoes are crucial for a tasty tomato soup. And while the blog post Ever wondered how to make a perfectly light tomato soup to enjoy this spring? Here’s how! contains plenty of useful information on everything connected to tomato soup, I couldn’t seem to find what types of canned tomatoes are the best for a tasty tomato soup. If you ask me, diced canned tomatoes are better than their whole cousins. The canned variety comes with basil leaves added into it, plus the tomatoes are peeled. Diced tomatoes are a better choice because they will dissolve more easily.

How to Achieve a Perfectly Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

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If you are a vegan, then the logical way to go about preparing a tomato soup is with a vegetable broth. However, you will need some kind of thickener to make your soup creamy. To achieve this creaminess, you could either opt for nutritional yeast (make sure you whisk and heat it in water) or arrowroot powder. If you opt for the latter, you will have to mix it with a cold liquid (either tap water or a non-dairy milk variant) and whisk it prior to adding to your soup.

The Best Way to Add Flavor to Your Tomato Soup Recipe

As I have already mentioned, chicken or beef stock are both very tasty options, but the latter is my favorite. However, there are plenty of other ways to bring your regular tomato soup up a notch. Say, by adding a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. The anchovies this sauce consists of will strangely give the soup a meaty flavor instead of a fishy one J. Or if you are one of those who “like it hot”, adding a sauce like salsa to your favorite tomato soup recipe will render amazing results every time. Lastly, you can add pesto but only after the soup has been prepared. Add a tablespoon of pesto into each individual serving and enjoy a flavorful soup.

 

meringue

Cream of Tartar – Тhe Secret to a Perfect Meringue

Airy and light homemade meringue is a perfect addition to pies and cakes, but also works wonderfully on its own, in the form of cookies or as a base for Pavlova cake.

Meringue is basically made of egg whites and sugar, but the final result is quite different than in plain whipped eggs. So, what’s the secret to a perfect, soft, and fluffy meringue?

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Cream of Tartar for Perfect Meringues

Cream of tartar, also known as potassium bitartrate, is a simple powdery ingredient with various super powers. In the case of meringues, only a tiny amount (as little as a 1/8 teaspoon) acts as a stabilizer. The acidity in this ingredient is what makes meringues sturdier. It boosts the mixture’s volume by enhancing the formation of air bubbles, thus preventing it from flattening.

Optionally, some recipes might call for other acidic substances to replace cream of tartar, such as lemon juice or white vinegar (1/2 teaspoon per egg white in the recipe). Less frequently used cream of tartar substitutes are yogurt, buttermilk, sour milk, kefir, and white wine. In other cases, baking soda is used instead of cream of tartar + baking soda.

Note: If you are using potassium bitartrate or any other acidifier, avoid preparing your meringue in a copper bowl. Copper reacts with acidic substances and results in color change of the egg mass.

Cream of tartar also increases the eggs’ tolerance to high temperatures, making sure your meringue maintains perfectly formed peaks even after baking in the oven.

For more info on how to use this amazing ingredient, read The Incredible Cream of Tartar – How to Use and What to Substitute With.

What Else Makes a Perfect Meringue Besides Cream of Tartar?

Besides cream of tartar, there are a few more essential steps that lead to a perfect meringue.

Egg to sugar proportions

In case you were wondering, the type of sugar doesn’t make much difference so feel free to use regular, granulated sugar. However, experienced cooks swear that fine, powdered sugar produces the best final results because its tiny crystals dissolve faster and easier.

Cream of tartar helps here as well. Contrary to the case with egg whites, where potassium bitartrate acts as a booster, when it comes to granulated sugar it serves as an inhibitor, i.e. adding a pinch of potassium bitartrate into your egg white mixture will prevent the formation of sugar crystals.

Make sure your eggs are at a room temperature in order to ensure higher volume of the mixture when whipped. However, it is easier to separate the whites from the yolks while the eggs are still cold, then let them sit for about 15 minutes on the counter to reach room temperature before you start whipping.

As for the egg white/sugar ratio, it depends on the recipe. If you are making a hard meringue, add ¼ cup of sugar for every egg white (in this case adding an acidic substance is a must). In the case of softer meringues, use two tablespoons of sugar per egg white.

Use a good Bowl

Use a large bowl since the egg whites will expand during beating. The bowl should be clean and completely dry. If it is wet, the egg whites will absorb the moisture which will prevent them from setting properly.

And finally, the bowl should be made of ceramic, glass, or stainless steel. As mentioned before, copper should be avoided, especially in case you are using potassium bitartrate or another acidifier. Plastic is also on the blacklist because it contains certain substances which might affect the final result.

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Meringue Recipe with Cream of Tartar Step by Step

You only need three simple ingredients to make a perfectly fluffy meringue.

  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Method of preparation:

Step 1: Separate the egg white from the yolk immediately after you take them out of the fridge. Let them come to a room temperature;

Step 2: Whip the egg whites until completely smooth, but be careful not to overwhip because the mass will become grainy and dry;

Step 3: Add the cream of tartar followed by the sugar;

Step 4: Bake the meringue at 350 degrees F, about 4 inches under the heat. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the peaks are golden brown.

Place it on top of puddings, pies, puddings, cakes, cookies and enjoy!

Salmon and Potatoes

Simple Salmon Recipes – Fried, Baked, Steamed, Grilled and Poached

I am not much of a fish eater, but when it comes to salmon recipes, I often have a change of heart. There is something about this fish that makes my mouth water.

Maybe it’s the fact that salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Its numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as the high level of omega-3 fatty acids, are sure to keep your heart and brain in great shape, but also protect you against diseases like cancer. Hey, even the new US Dietary Guidelines recommend eating two servings of this fish a week!

Or maybe it’s the numerous ways of preparation and serving that prevent you from getting bored of salmon – fried, baked, grilled, in a salad, in a sandwich, a cake…salmon is called the ‘king of fish’ for a good reason!

Salmon with Rice

What Type of Salmon is the Best?

Before we move on to my favorite salmon recipes, a few important tips regarding the type of salmon you should use.

Opt for wild salmon whenever you can. Farmed fish can be treated with antibiotics or, in some cases, with pigments to make their flesh more orange.

Fresh meat is always a better choice than frozen, and you can find it in markets from June to September. However, frozen salmon is good for up to four months in the freezer and very convenient to use anytime you want, whereas canned wild salmon is the most economical choice. Just make sure to choose cans that say BPA-free.

As a general rule, when choosing salmon, go for the one that is orange in color. Orange-colored salmon flesh, provided that we are not talking about artificial pigmentation, is packed with carotenoids that are very good for you. Also, when it comes to salmon, the fattier is the better because the fats in question here are omega-3 fats.

Fried Salmon Recipe

Fried salmon is crispy on the outside and pink on the inside. In order to achieve this perfection, start by NOT removing the skin – it protects the fish from overcooking. Cook with the skin-side down almost the whole time and press with a spatula to prevent the fish from curling, as well as to add extra crispiness. The fish is done when it changes the color from orange to pink.

Serve with the skin side up, along with a salad made of whole wheat couscous, steamed bell pepper, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Salmon and Potatoes

Baked Salmon Recipe

Baking the salmon is much easier and a lot healthier than frying it. Season the fish with a little salt and pepper, then place skin-side down on a lightly greased baking dish or pan. Alternatively, you can wrap the fish in foil. This method gives you an opportunity to flavor the salmon with various ingredients like herbs, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, parmesan cheese, asparagus, or various glazes! Bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes (there is no need to turn).

An even faster method is broiling. Turn the oven to broil, season the fish and place it on a sheet pan, placed on the top rack of the oven, about 3 inches from the broiler. It should be done after 3 minutes or so.

The third option is to combine pan-frying and baking. If you decide to go with this method, use an oven-proof skillet so that you do all the cooking in it and minimize the mess. Sizzle the fish for about 3 minutes with the skin-side down in oil or butter, then transfer it to the oven, heated to 275 degrees F, and cook for 20-25 minutes. Return the pan to the stovetop and cook for 3 more minutes to make the fish crispy.

Steamed Salmon Recipe

The process of steaming salmon is rather longer and includes three steps – curing, drying and smoking. Start by curing the fish by mixing together salt, chilis, bay leaves, thyme, minced onion and garlic in water. Cover the fish with this brine and place it in the fridge. Let it stand there for at least four hours and maximum 48 hours. More than 48 hours of brining will make the fish too salty.

Dry the fish by patting it dry with a paper towel and let it sit for 2-3 hours or, better yet, overnight in the refrigerator to dry completely. You’ll know it is good to cook when it has shiny skin on top.

When smoking the salmon, be careful that the smoker isn’t set to a very high temperature because this will result in a very dry final product. However, if this happens, you can ‘save’ your disastrously smoked fish by including it in a very simple and easy recipe called Smoked Salmon Ball, where its dryness will be masked effectively.

Cut the fish and combine it with cream cheese, minced onion, lemon juice, chopped parsley, horseradish (previously prepared), liquid smoke, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir until well incorporated, then transfer the mixture onto a big, shallow plate. Shape it into a ball with a spatula, then garnish with chopped pecans all over the top.

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Grilled Salmon Recipes

Grilled salmon is perfect for warm days! Smoky flavor and minimum mess are the biggest upsides of this method. You can grill whole fish fillets or cut the fish into cubes and place them on wooden skewers, alternating with lemon slices, then season with salt and pepper. Grill each side for about 5 minutes and serve with a basil-based dip on the side.

Poached Salmon Recipe

Poaching keeps the calorie and fat count low. In addition, it is the best way to prepare your salmon recipe if you are planning to include it in salmon cakes. Simmer the fish filets in water flavored with salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Alternatively, you can use stock or white wine instead of water. Wait for the liquid to come to a boil, then add the fish. Cover the pan and cook for 20-25 minutes.

To make salmon cakes, combine poached salmon with mashed potatoes, milk, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into patties. Coat them in flour, dip them in egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Place the patties on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.