Shaatra weighs in on:Soup Smarts – Great tips for cooking up that nourishing
winter comfort food.

This month’s expert:Danielle Renov, founder of

Looking for a pretty presentation for your soup? Danielle Renov of, has the answers!

If applicable, suggests Danielle, let meat and chicken boil in the soup pot, but separately in a mesh bag. Remove, shred, and neatly place a mound of pulled beef or chicken in the center of the soup for a pleasing presentation.

In pureed soups, whip up a “flavored oil” by blending olive oil with herbs like cilantro, basil, or chives. Strain mixture, discard herbs, and reserve flavored oil. Drizzle the liquid on the surface of the soup for a breathtaking contrast with the yellow or orange of your soup. Flavored oils add a hint of fresh flavors in your soup, too.

Chunky vegetable soups are pretty all on their own. Be sure to have a variety of colors and textures for a truly awesome display.

Do you have any substitutions for heavy cream in soups?

Danielle: I sure do! So many people love the idea of cream of broccoli soup or the like but cannot bear the thought of putting all that heavy cream in it. Not to worry! Drain and rinse a can of white beans and toss into your pot. Puree and see how well a few beans can do the trick in giving your soup that creamy touch. Alternatively, substitute heavy cream for equal amounts of almond or rice milk. This way, you’ll relish that dreamy, creamy taste in your soup without ingesting all that calorie-packed cream.

Food for Thought –

Stone Soup– a tale from my childhood, and perhaps yours, as well. It’s the story of a clever, hungry villager who cons some other villagers into contributing vegetables and seasonings toward his boiling “stone soup.” The villagers are amazed at how the hungry villager has made such a scrumptious soup from a stone. There are likely more versions to this old folktale than there are words in this article. The inedible objects in some versions are nails, axes, and buttons. There’s the Russian, French, Chinese, and Hungarian versions, each with a different twist.

About It!

That soup mix has definitely got to go, urges Danielle. For good. Truly wholesome soups are packed with flavor all on their own. You simply need to extract the maximum flavor out of each component of the soup. The secret, explains our mastermind chef, is to layer your flavors. In a chicken mushroom barley soup, for example, first sear the chicken, then sauté an onion, then roast or sauté mushrooms, and, finally, add water, wine, herbs, and seasonings. Additionally, suggests Danielle, each component of soup should be spiced, rather than merely sprinkling salt, pepper, and turmeric in a pot of water. Oh, and speaking of spices, don’t go overboard; spices are meant to enhance a soup’s natural flavor, not to overpower.

Shopping List

Soup lovers – be sure to keep these soup staples in your pantry:

Wines – Danielle loves the depth of flavor that even a small amount of wine can lend to a pot of soup. She recommends having on hand Kedem sherry and dry red and white wines.

Chicken stock– Short on time? Soups can happen in no time if you’ve got some chicken stock on hand. Danielle goes for the natural, organic, low sodium containers of the stuff.

Herbs– Fresh herbs make all the difference in soup.

Spotlight On:

Round Two

Soup belongs to that rare food category of tasting better on day two. The best way to reheat? Let soup warm up for several hours at room temperature before heating on low. At the very least, if warming up immediately over the flame, do so on a simmer and mix every few minutes.


By Miriam Sasson
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Forget about it! 

Forget about… exposing melting chocolate to water. When droplets of water creep into your chocolate, it will harden quickly. Should it happen, however, simply add a teaspoon of oil to your chocolate and stir. By the way, when handling melted chocolate for an extended amount of time, keep it in a tin on your hotplate to ensure the chocolaty goodness retains its liquidity. (Thanks, Esther Sasson, for that stroke of genius!)

Go for it!

Still seeking out a way to make your omelet super fluffy? The answer is finally here! First, remember to remove your eggs from the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to fry them. In addition, even better than adding a bit of milk to your omelet is adding a little water instead. Water increases the eggs’ volume and has triple the effectiveness of milk since water molecules use more heat to thicken the egg protein and cook the eggs thoroughly.

By the Number

225:The average amount of eggs hatched by a hen each year

Remember when, just a few short months ago, a dozen eggs cost over three dollars? I never wished those chickens such a speedy recovery from their bird flu epidemic until then! Let’s get an idea of how fattening these eggs are: 1 large egg is eighty calories, with the yolk taking credit for 60 of them (which is 75 percent of the total calories). A  dozen large eggs totals 24 ounces, extra-large eggs are 27 ounces, and jumbo-sized, 30 ounces.

Item of the Month

For the longest time, I’ve been searching the supermarkets for a more healthy ices option – with no success. There are sugar-free ones, but they contain enough coloring to paint a picture (and, incidentally, to paint your insides red). Then there are the colorless ones, but they’ve got enough sugar to give you ADHD if you didn’t already have it. Now that summer’s arrived, I am left with one alternative: Do it yourself, Mom!

The greatest way to get that done, of course, is with ices molds! You can fill them with your favorite wholesome ices recipe or simply fill them with 100% juice. The result is so tasty and appealing to children, they’ll be snubbing the sugary stuff and begging for more of your homemade deliciousness

Q & A

How can I unclog a sink drain that has become stopped up or slow?

Tired of calling for the plumber to unclog your drains? Enter the most basic kitchen ingredients to save the day (and your money)!

Remove any water buildup from your sink or tub. Pour one cup of baking soda, one cup of salt and a half a cup of white vinegar down that drain. Let your ensemble of kitchen products stand for five minutes and the grease will dissolve in no time. Pour ¼ to ½ gallon of boiling water down your sink and watch it all go down the drain – literally.

Food for Thought

Ever wondered how mayonnaise came to be? Mr. Richard and Mrs. Nina Hellman arrived on the shores of New York City in the early 1900s. Trying to make ends meet, Richard Hellman operated a delicatessen, where he based his success on his wife’s original “dressing” for the salads and sandwiches. He began to sell the spread, which he named “Blue Ribbon,” at ten cents per spoonful. It must have been a big hit because, in 1912, he went all out with the business, obtaining a manufacturing plant, a fleet of trucks – the works! This famous spread was eventually called “mayonnaise” and retains the same recipe today as it did then. To date, billions of pounds of mayonnaise have been sold, with the average person consuming three pounds of the fatty concoction per year…


 (Source: 10,001 Food Facts, Chefs’ Secrets & Household Hints by Dr. Myles H. Bader)

By Miriam Sasson
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