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Ask Kirstin: Refreezing; Fixing a Bland Soup


Sometimes I will defrost something, then change my mind and not need it. Is it alright to refreeze it? — Bonnie B.

Dearest Bonnie! According to the USDA, yes you may refreeze it, however only if you have defrosted it safely in the refrigerator. That said, you might not want to. You know that puddle of liquid that is always leaking from your frozen food? Well, that is moisture lost from your dish, and if you freeze and defrost once more you are going to lose even more moisture. So your change of mind could lead to a very dry meatloaf. By the way, there is a great website called that gives you answers to all those “How long may I freeze this?” questions.


What’s the best way to rescue a bland soup? — Marie

You know those days when you imagined all problems would be fixed, if you made a good pot of soup. And then you make the soup, and it becomes a problem too, because it is not a good pot of soup, it is thin, watery, bland, and sad. Well there are fixes for that (have you read “Stone Soup”?). First of all, taste your soup, really taste it. Does it have enough salt? It might need a lot more, or perhaps just a smidge. Did you add enough garlic and onions? Because they are magic weapons. If you suspect you did not, chop some up, sauté them and toss them into the pot.

If it is a vegetable soup, I like to add a teaspoon or so of brown sugar, and to balance it a bit of vinegar as well. A Parmesan rind works like a magic wand to deepen the flavor of bean and vegetable soups. If it is chicken soup, a little lemon zest and juice added at the last minute will do wonders. And never forget your fresh herbs. If you use “twiggy” herbs like rosemary and thyme put them in at first, and if you use leafy herbs like parsley, basil or dill add them last so they keep their fragrance and bright colors. And if all else fails, keep on hand a few of the little (organic) bullion cubes. I know, thats not what “real” chefs do, but it is what real Italian grandmothers have done forever. And I trust grandmothers.

For some great soup recipes look in our Souper Dinners chapter in “The Family Dinner.”


How do I know which seafood is sustainable and also low in mercury? — Darwin L.

I struggle with this problem every time I have fish on the menu. The only way to really know is to go to a seafood watch site like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Online Seafood Watch Guide. They have a handy iPhone app and pocket guides, so when the teenage fish dude says he thinks “Patagonian tooth fish” is a great choice today, you can check and see if it really is.


I want to make chocolate chip cookies and my brown sugar is hard as a rock. What do I do? — L.D.

Easy! Stick it in the microwave and nuke it for 30 seconds, then check to see if it is still hard. If it is, repeat.


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One Response

  1. [...] taste it. What do you think? Need a little salt? A splash of vinegar? A few hot pepper flakes? (Click here for more suggestions on fixing a bland soup). Make it taste perfect for you, then remove the thyme twig, sprinkle in the parsley and serve with [...]

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