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Techniques - Garnishing

[Do Not Use]DK Publishing logo[Do Not Use]DK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks


From a single piece of seafood to a simple swirl of cream, a well-chosen garnish transforms a soup, adding extra color, as well as texture and flavor.

For some soups, a garnish is an essential component—the sour cream stirred into Borscht, for instance, or the cheese-topped croûtes served with French onion soup. For others, a garnish is a way of introducing contrasting textures and flavors. Many ingredients can act as a garnish if they also complement the flavors of the soup, but here is a selection to suit almost every type.

With cream

Dolloped, swirled, or drizzled, cream makes an excellent garnish for thick puréed soups. Use heavy cream, whipped cream, sour cream, or crème fraîche. Yogurt is also a good alternative if you’re counting calories.

With herbs

Fresh sage or parsley leaves fried in olive oil until crisp make a flavorful garnish for gutsy soups, but a sprinkling of chopped parsley, chervil, or cilantro instantly adds interest, fragrance, and color to almost any soup.

With shellfish

A whole shrimp, crab claw, grilled scallop, or (as here) an oyster poached and served in its shell makes a spectacular garnish for a seafood soup. A wild garlic flower provides the finishing touch for this dish.

With olive oil

As much a condiment as a garnish, a drizzle of fragrant, full-bodied extra virgin olive oil brings a Mediterranean flavor to soups, while looking appetizing and glossy on the surface.

With vegetables

Raw or cooked, vegetables make eye-catching and healthy garnishes. If small, like peas, they can be served whole. Otherwise, slice them into decorative strips, dice, or rings.

With bacon

Cooked until crisp and then crumbled, bacon makes a tasty garnish that looks attractive floating on the surface of a pale puréed soup. Here it is accompanied by pieces of pan-fried scallop.

With seeds or nuts

Toasted seeds or nuts not only look pretty, they also lend a satisfying crunch. Served with a vegetable soup, they are a good source of protein too.

With croûtons

Small dice of fried bread are a classic garnish. For about 40 croûtons, cut 4 slices of day-old white bread (crusts removed) into 1/2in ( 1cm) dice. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a large frying pan until hot, then cook the bread, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels before serving. For extra flavor, stir in a finely chopped garlic clove a few minutes before the croûtons are through cooking.

With croûtes

Large croûtons are known as croûtes. To make them, cut a day-old baguette into 1/2in ( 1cm) slices, and toast until golden. Alternatively, place on a baking sheet and bake in an oven preheated to 350°F ( 180°C) for 15 minutes.

Ways of serving croûtes

Croûtes are a versatile garnish. Rubbed with garlic, then topped with cheese and popped under the broiler, they are perfect for French onion soup. For fish soups, spread them thickly with a garlicky rouille sauce.

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