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Old 11-07-2005, 02:53 PM   #1
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Order of soup ingredient additions?

Last night I made some minnestrone from an Italian cookbook I have. It had onion, celery, carrot, green beans, potato, tomato, zucchini, and cabbage in it. The author stressed that you should sautee the onion first, then add each next vegetable in a specific order and sautee it for a few minutes before adding the next veggie. I can understand the idea of sauteeing the onions first. I can understand the idea of sauteeing all the veggies before adding any liquid. But, I cannot comprehend why I need to do it in any particular order when after the liquid is added, the soup simmers for 3 hours! I'd bet $$$ that it makes absolutely no difference in the final product if I sauteed the onion and then added all the other vegetables to sautee and then added the broth. It just doesn't make sense to me. Is there any factual reason that the ingredients should be added in a specific order or is this just a carryover from techniques passed down? It certainly seems like the latter.

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Old 11-07-2005, 02:58 PM   #2
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Good question. I would guess that you are correct and that it really would not matter in this case.
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Old 11-07-2005, 03:01 PM   #3
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Without seeing the recipe I can't be sure, but I would venture a guess that it is because some veggies take longer to cook than others. So, if you start with the ones that take the longest working your way through to the ones that need the least amount of cooking you will get them all to the correct "doneness" at the same time.

Also, sauteeing tends to make many veggies sweeter, which is why you do them that way before adding any broth. You would get a much different flavour from a soup that used all raw veggies.
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Old 11-07-2005, 03:02 PM   #4
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Three hours seems like a long time if your suppose to add the veggies for that duration. I guess let the stock do it's thing and then add the veggies during the last half hour, potatoes and carrots take the longest, but I'm sure you know that. Sure you would have more flavor from the veggies if they were in the stock for three hours, but they would be mush after three hours.
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Old 11-07-2005, 03:02 PM   #5
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I agree. If all the veggies are going to cook together in the broth for three hours (why so long?), order of addition would make little difference.

You've listed them in order by how long they would take to cook (after the mire poix). Some of the ingredients would be mush or complete dissolved after three hours of simmering.

Actually, I'd saute the mire poix then add the veggies to the broth in order and simmer until the cabbage is done.
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Old 11-07-2005, 03:30 PM   #6
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I wouldn't cook it for 3 hours - I would taste now and again and see if the flavors had melded and stop when they had. Many old recipes stated a long cooking time that isn't really necessary. Bean soups or something with legumes may need a long cooking, but those veggies would be wiped out in 3 hours.
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Old 11-07-2005, 05:28 PM   #7
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The recipe was from "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan. It said to add the vegetables and sautee a few minutes per veggie in the order specified, then add the broth, and then simmer for 2.5 hours. At that point you were supposed to add the cooked beans and cook an additional 0.5 hrs. That's a total of 3 hours! I think this is merely a tradition that she knew of and passed on in her book with little thought as to why. I like knowing why I do certain things when cooking and the specified order of vegetables left me scratching my head.

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Old 11-07-2005, 05:39 PM   #8
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Often for soups and casseroles the veg needs to slightly caramelise to bring out the sweetness of each veg.. but then to simmer the soup for 3 hours is far too long in my opinon!
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Old 11-07-2005, 05:47 PM   #9
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Also, I think it would have been much better had I sauteed each vegetable and then set it aside while I did the next. By the time I got the zucchini in there it was a pile 6 inches high! I doubt the stuff at the top was getting any sort of benefit from the heat at all. It just didn't add up.
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:02 PM   #10
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You have learned a valuable lesson - cook books are not infallible! I've tried a couple of Nigella Lawson recipes and they are WRONG -one was a chocolate cake - the proportions meant it never completely 'cooked' and I believe later editions of the book had an amended recipe. The books are only as good as the person editing them and ensuring that the dishes have been well-tested before they end up in print.
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