There an old saying to the effect that the tools don’t make the cook. And while for the most part I agree with this, it is simply too obvious that the proper tools can make anyone’s job much easier.
Nowhere is this truer than in the kitchen. As I have been rambling about for seven years, a dull knife won’t cut it, pun intended. Cheap pots and pans, while fitting the price point of many people, will tend to be more of a burden than they are worth after time.
When you graduate to the more price-intensive brands such as Master’s Collection, All-Clad or Spring, you are graduating to tools that you will be able to hand down to your children. Then, if they don’t cook, they can at least fetch a premium for them on eBay, so whichever the case, it’s a win-win scenario.
Such is the case with our Vitamix Blender. Known throughout the restaurant industry as the workhorse of better chefs, these machines are beasts, to say the least. Dry black beans become black bean flour in a matter of seconds. Ice cubes become the snow cones of legends with a quick flip of the switch and the rest is history.
For me, however, the greatest benefit of using a Vitamix is in the colors of vegetable purees and soups finished in the blender.
While normal blenders reach somewhere around 20,000 RPMs, which is admirable in my opinion, the Vitamix Blenders reach closer to 40K. This unfathomable number of rotations does a couple of things. First, it makes mincemeat of anything in its way.
Secondly, the sharp blades spin so fast (according to theory) that the cells are split to a degree, affording the herbs and vegetables to release even more chlorophyll than if done in a conventional blender. Whether this is true I haven’t any idea, nor do I have a laboratory in which to test it on the molecular level.
However, making the identical soup in my old blender, a ‘top of the line’ model from Wal-Mart, and comparing it to that made in the Vitamix, there is no question. The latter’s soup is a brilliant green and maintains a buttery smooth consistency.
Recently, the greenhouse at the school provided me with a plethora of fresh basil, broadleaf parsley, oregano and cilantro. Not wanting to lose any of it, I merely pureed it with some extra virgin olive oil until it was like a dark green butter. Two and a half weeks later, it still looks as it did. It is the richest and most glorious herb concoction I have ever seen.
Recently, while grilling steaks, I whipped some butter with some freshly chopped garlic and shallots and finished it with copious amounts of the herb puree. After rolling it up and chilling it, I sliced off pieces and served them on the steaks; amazing flavor and color that could only be matched by the flavor of the fresh beef.
So, maybe the tools don’t make the chef, but there’s something to be said for a tool that all of the best chefs are using. It can’t hurt; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Broccoli, Asparagus and Kale soup
1 ea. Shallot, julienne
¼ med. White onion, julienne
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 oz. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 oz. broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 c. kale, finely chopped
2 c. Vegetable stock
2 c. Fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
This recipe and others like it work the best in a Vitamix Blender
In a pan large enough to handle the first 8 ingredients, heat the oil and sweat onion, garlic and shallots. If you want to give your soup more of a roasted flavor, you can caramelize the onion and shallot and then add the garlic later, but this will affect the color of the finished product
Add the asparagus and the broccoli and cook until they start to give a little bit
Add the kale and cook for another minute and then add your vegetable stock
When the soup comes back up to a simmer, remove and carefully place the contents into the blender cup. If there is too much for one batch, do it in two. This is much better than having the blender lid pop off and the contents spraying you.
Start on variable-1 and increase the speed to 10. You can go to high if you prefer but this is not necessary
Add the raw spinach and blend until smooth
Move the plunger to a corner of the cup to create a vortex. In two minutes, you will have a world-class vegetable soup like none you’ve ever had
When the puree is just about done, place the fresh spinach in the cup and blend until smooth. If you cook the spinach in the least, you will lose that beautiful and radiant color. The heat from the soup will cook it at the last minute
Serve the soup immediately or store for one day. It keeps beautifully with little color degradation up to that point
Serve topped with sunflower seeds, almonds, or any other nut or seed that you feel would accompany the soup well
As a final note, a quick garnish of crema fresco or herb oil would certainly be appropriate here.