I’ve been licking my wounds and nursing my ailing pride for about a week and a half, and I think it’s finally time to admit what I did: I ruined an entire pot of soup.
Now, those of you who believe in karma will probably be raising your eyebrows before this post is finished, and don’t think I haven’t done that myself.
It started with a chicken carcass. Wait, no, let’s back up. It started with a phone call from a reader who was disappointed in a soup recipe I’d run in the newspaper. She declared it tasteless, despite the fact that it contained some highly flavorful ingredients, including breakfast sausage. She claimed it was so far beyond help that she poured it down the drain, which caused the frugal, waste-hating part of me to want to curl up and cry. Why could she not add more herbs and seasonings, I wondered (a bit smugly, okay). Perhaps it needed more salt, or some acid, or some hot sauce? But no, it was gone down the tubes. I would never do such a thing.
I believe it was the very next day when I left a chicken carcass (originally a smoked paprika roasted chicken) simmering away in the Crock Pot with some celery, onions, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves, intending to turn the resulting delicious stock into delicious chicken soup with wild rice and mushrooms. So when I got home, I busied myself with separating the meat from the bones and fat, and straining the non-edible out of my homemade stock, which I then returned to the Crock Pot. Everything was going OK at that point.
Next, I chopped up the rest of the chicken I’d carved off the carcass and dumped it in the pot. Then, I got out a box of Uncle Ben’s wild rice and dumped the rice in the pot. You’re probably sensing at this point that I was not following a recipe; instead deciding to rely on my experience and all those times I have successfully created dishes on the fly, without a recipe (NOT). Before chopping some mushrooms, I looked at the seasoning packet that came with the wild rice and then decided to dump that in, too. What the heck.
At this point, the soup was still fairly bland. So what did I do? I added some more herbs and some salt. And tasted it, and it was still not right. So then I got out some kind of garlic seasoning blend and, willy-nilly, dumped some of that into the pot. OK, it was probably about two tablespoons now that I think about it, but the hour was getting late. I tasted the soup, and to me it tasted like… um, garlic soap. Yep, that’s about the best way to describe it.
My loving husband disagreed with the soap analysis, but still said it tasted “weird.” He judged that I’d probably put too many different seasonings in it, and I declared (mark this on the calendar) that he was correct. I’d gone all seasoning-happy, thinking maybe I was some kind of Disney character who could flit around the kitchen while singing and adding a magic pinch of this and a glittering sprinkle of that, resulting in a nectar of the gods. Not so.
My loving husband ended up eating four bowls of the stuff (he’s more frugal than me) before declaring that he was finished with it. I never made it through the first bowl. He’s my hero.
And so, dear readers, in case you needed one, that was another story for the Lindsey Nair FAIL file. Lesson learned: Be judicious with seasoning. Add more herbs, a squeeze of lemon or lime, and – if you haven’t already added enough salt to attract a herd of deer – perhaps another sprinkling of salt. If you have been in this position before and have words of wisdom for me and other accident-prone cooks, do tell. Do share. Do help.