So when the new editor at The New York Times Magazine, Hugo Lindgren, writes that “Mark Bittman is handling the revamped food section,” does that mean he will be assigning and editing or writing each week? Readers want to know! Please let it be the former. Either way the fact that Bittman blames food for his heft, his high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and his sleep apnea and bad knees can’t help but shine through.
The column shouldn’t be called Eat. Under Bittman it should be Watch What You Eat. Or Food Through the Lens of a Dieter. And to add insult to injury, Bittman trains that lens on the most personal, most sacred genre: soups. Nothing at all to mine here–just vegans and vegetables. Including a monastic broth made from all kinds of groovy veggies that you then strain out–and throw away–before pouring over a piece of dry toast. Shudder.
If you are interested in a truly thorough and inspiring soup tutorial, you can’t do better than The Joy of Cooking: All About Soups and Stews. Buy this book. I know all the recipes by heart and still I pull it out for a cover-to-cover read at least once a year to get the ol’ juices flowing.
Bittman’s selection of soups is also disappointing because they are simply so pedestrian–black bean, minestrone, butternut squash. The only soup that strikes me as novel is a hideous-sounding broth with rice and frozen peas. Sorry, sorry, can’t end on that flavor!
Here’s a palate-cleansing, no, palate-thrilling super simple soup from one of my food mentors: Saute lots of garlic in olive oil along with bread cubes until the bread is crouton-like. Scoop out the bread to add back at the end. Add chicken broth and water to the garlic. In a bowl stir together an egg and grated parmesan cheese, and then add to the hot broth, stirring to separate the strands of egg. For an Italian soup, add fresh basil and lemon. For a Mexican soup, add cilantro, red pepper flakes, and lime.