What foods do.
This chapter intends to give you some idea about what things to use to get what results. There are only a few things listed, but as there is a large space at the end you can fill in the other things you find out for yourself, thus further Personalising the book.
Beer is a useful ingredient, although I cannot describe it`s effect.Try using some flat beer instead of about 50% of the water you would normally be using.
Bread Just turns into a kind of flour paste when cooked in water. It adds it`s own particular kind of flavour and a homogenous thickness.
cabbage breaks up rather easily, but makes a pleasant mild sweetness. Red cabbage adds a lurid purple colour which can be very appealing, particularly to those of us who are children.
Carrots stay together remarkably well almost however long you cook them. They add a certain sweetness and a pleasing redness.
Cheese (Cheddar) melts down to a nice greasey cream, but then, if cooked too long, goes on to become a sort of rubbery mass like badly cooked scrambled eggs (presumably for the same reason - I suppose the protein sets). There are many other types of cheese than Cheddar, but I have little experience of cooking them. I presume if overcooked, they all get to the rubbery goo stage. If you wish to get some idea but do not want to waste cheese trying it, try winding the entire contents of a bag of elastic bands as tight as possible. It has much the same texture, but is a little tougher. Don`t try to eat it.
Cream does the same sort of thing, although doesn`t have that subtle sourness found in yoghurt.
Eggs very quickly set when heated, and if added to soup uncooked when it is boiling turn into thin stringy bits like you find in some Chinese soups. I am told (although I haven't tried it) that if you soft boil them and then let them cool, and then return them to the heat they will not hard boil whatever you do to them after that. I must try it some time
Fish cooks very quickly and in very little time breaks up into lots of very small bits. The bones can be dangerous because they can be very sharp and stick in your throat.
Flour does the same sort of thing as bread, but adds almost no flavour.
Garlic adds it's own distinctive taste, which I cannot in any way describe. It is normally added by crushing, but in fact chunks of boiled garlic are a great delight to come across when eating. My daughter Poppy says garlic flavours more the longer you cook it.
Herbs - This is a big subject. The only ones I know anything at all about are 'mixed herbs', which I use frequently. I use them because they save me the trouble of thinking about the subject. Sometimes they can take the dullness out of something. Adding them towards the end probably keeps the flavour better. Add your own findings.
Margarine is good to fry things in if they are not to be fried too long. If they are fried too long it begins to burn. It adds a pleasing light oiliness to the soup.
Meat - well, I know a bit, but not much. Boil it enough and it breaks up like fish, but not nearly as quickly.
Mushroom. The most flacoursome ones are allegedly the big 'horse' mushrooms that you find in supermarkets these days, although I have found dried parasol mushroom much more useful in the past. I suspect that frying them before putting them in gives a stronger effect than just chucking them in direct. Dried parasols can be crumbled in if they are truly dry.
Mustard. There are two types that I know - the mild French variety and the ultra hot English variety. The English variety makes a noticeable difference in a soup, whilst the French type might or might not - I've never noticed. It seems to have a certain amount of sweetish vinegar in it.
Nuts are surprising. They seem to stay completely untouched, then suddenly at the last moment go quite soft.
Onions and leek. both go deliciously soft and sweet quite quickly (although onions only quickly if they are sliced). Very smooth.
Pepper. I think we are all familiar with pepper. It adds 'hotness'. There are at least two types, and I always forget to try any.
Potatoes make for a certain amount of bulk, and are to be divided into different varieties for different results, although in most cases I have not known what variety of potato I have been using. Floury ones are better as a thickener than waxy ones, which work very well if what you want is a lumpy soup.
Salt. We are all familiar with salt. Don't use any more than you feel you absolutely have to.
Vegetable oil - the solid type is the only type I use. It is not unlike gee (an Indian cooking oil) and adds a slightly heavier oiliness. Floats on top when the soup is cold, so it can mainly be removed if you like.
Yoghurt - This stuff is absolutely delicious. It won't stand cooking, and goes stringy like cheese. Added after cooking, it lends a very pleasing creamy taste without being quite as deadly creamy as the real thing.