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Techniques - Preparing Vegetables

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
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© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

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© Provided by DKBooks

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© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Preparing Vegetables

Careful preparation of vegetables is essential—not only do properly cut vegetables contribute to the finished appearance of a soup, they cook more evenly too.

Vegetables are best prepared just before cooking: washed, peeled, and cut ahead of time, they are left exposed to air and moisture, which can lead them to deteriorate and lose their vitamins. Most often vegetables can be cut by hand, so a good sharp knife is vital. Use a large or small knife depending on the vegetable you’re cutting. Here’s how to prepare those most commonly used in soups.


Chopping or crushing garlic

Lay the clove of garlic on a cutting board with the blade of a large knife on top of it. Strike the blade with the heel of your hand to break the skin of the clove, but don’t press down so hard that you smash the garlic.

Peel off the skin, then chop the ends off of the garlic. Chop the garlic coarsely, then sprinkle it with a little salt to keep it from sticking to the blade. You can then chop it finely or crush smooth with the flat blade.


Chopping onions

Cut the onion in half lengthwise with a chef’s knife. Peel away the skin, but leave the root intact—it will help keep the halves together as you chop.

With the onion flat side down on the cutting board, make two or three horizontal slices, cutting up to—but not through—the root.

Now, vertically slice the onion finely, being careful once again to cut up to but not through the root.

Turn the onion 90 degrees and slice across to make even-sized dice. Discard the root when you get to it.


Peeling and seeding tomatoes

With a sharp knife, cut an “X” in the base of the tomato.

Immerse it in boiling water for 20 seconds, or until the skin begins to split.

Remove the tomato with a slotted spoon and plunge it into ice water to cool it.

When it’s cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to peel off the skin.

Slice the tomato in half, then squeeze the seeds into a bowl and discard.

Slice the tomato half first into strips and then into dice.


Cleaning and chopping leeks

With a large knife, trim off the root and some of the dark green leaf at the top, then slice the leek lengthwise in two and fan it open.

Rinse the leek under cold running water to remove the soil that tends to collect between the layers, then pat it dry with paper towels.

Sit the halved leek on the cutting board and slice it into thick or thin strips, according to the recipe.


Chopping carrots

Peel the carrot, then slice it lengthwise. Cut the lengths crosswise, then stack them and cut into batons. Slice across the batons to make even-sized dice.


Sweating vegetables

Sweating chopped vegetables in oil or butter gives a soup a more pronounced flavor. Heat a little fat over low heat, stir in the vegetables, then add a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for 5–10 minutes or until soft but not brown.

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