History, well mine anyway: Going back to my Vancouver days I started as a cowboy chef, "someone brought in to inject new blood", at an Italian bakery bistro called Ecco Il Pane. We were situated central to two TV stations and several Recording studios. Every day i cooked for the likes of Richard Gere, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Spelling, The Urban Gourmet and quite often the entire Vancouver Canucks Hockey Team. Anyone filming in Vancouver at the time somehow found there way to us. Most importantly its where I met my wife of 15 years, she worked in the office. If anyone out there knows, cooking for celebrities can be very trying. They always want the best, something new, yet hate change all at the same time, not to mention there special dietary needs. Just look up David Duchovony, uh yeah. This is where the soups come in. Every morning I arrived at 5:00 am to start two 40 liter pots of soup. One of which always had to be vegetarian, if not both. The only allowable substitute would be to use our homemade chicken stock in one of them. Here's the clincher, we had a no repeat policy for a minimum of 8 months. Doing the math, including being closed on weekends, times two different soups per day meant I couldn't repeat a single soup until I had made 320 other completely original soups. This may sound difficult, but in Vancouver we have a tremendous access to ingredients from all over the world which simplifies things greatly. Mind you, we were primarily northern Italian with a to of french allowed, so no won-tons.... rats
The key to making so many different soups was to have a great base, something that you could turn into almost any flavor palette. The following ingredients are provided in level of importance as these are key, where you go from there is up to you. The trick is in the style of cooking that first involves sweating vegetables under fairly high heat, drawing out the sugars to caramelize on the bottom of the pot and introducing a new vegetable which once again will give up its moisture, deglazes and simultaneously re-deposits its own sugars back into the pot, ready for the process to repeat. It is this culmination of layering that builds such an amazingly rich flavor.
Step 1: Ingredients & Kitchen tools
Purist - First base:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Ancient secret ingredient: Thyme
- Tomatoe - Fresh preferred, but canned/preserved tomatoes will work
- Green pepper - for a touch of bitterness
- A good sharp knife
- Wooden butcher block, to keep your good sharp knife, good
- A good sized pot, minimum 6 liters with the thickest bottom money can buy, and the key here is NO NON-STICK COATINGS, this defeats the purpose.
- A good sturdy wooden stir spoon