How to Salvage a Dud Recipe

By Kate Heddings Posted July 24, 2007

It can be hard for people to toot their own horns, so I'm devoting this blog posting to the "tooting" of one of my associates, Melissa Rubel. Melissa is constantly testing recipes from cookbooks in the Test Kitchen, and since the idea is to test them verbatim, that means lots of misses along the way, which can be discouraging. Last week, Melissa tested a dreadful soup. It was a fresh tomato soup (albeit spiked with tomato paste and tomato juice). The problem was that the flavors were too flat, sweet and canned-tasting. But the recipe made a massive amount that seemed a shame to waste. So Melissa chilled it and resolved to salvage it for lunch the next day. With the addition of a little cream, chicken and lemon juice, the soup morphed into an extremely delicious meal--one completely worth making. Here is the revamped recipe:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped
5 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
8 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3 cups tomato juice
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 bunch chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
5 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 rotisserie chicken, skinned discarded, meat shredded
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large soup pot, heat the butter over moderately high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock, tomato juice and paste and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderate heat until the vegetables are softened, about 30 minutes.
2. Stir in the basil, vinegar and sugar. Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth and return to the pot. Add the corn, chicken, cream and lemon juice and simmer over moderately high heat until the the corn and chicken are heated through, about 10 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve.

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