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A Soup With a Difference,
Born of Adversity and Error

by Melissa Clark

Most of the time, my kitchen calamities end with me dumping the debacle. But not so with my latest victim, a pot of chicken vegetable soup brutalized by an accidental assault of chili paste.

I could taste the soup in my mind before I started cooking. I wanted something zippier and more substantial than the usual matzo-ball-type golden chicken stock. I pictured a deep ruddy broth steeped with chili and spices and brimming with chunks of chicken, colorful vegetables and velvety beans. Loosely based on the flavors of North Africa, it would contain turmeric, ginger and cinnamon for depth, paprika for color, and a dose of harissa, the chili paste of the region, for body and heat.

But as I stood over the pot, I did what you’re never, ever supposed to do. After stirring in a judicious amount of harissa, I blithely decided to finish the crumpled tube. Those last drops turned out to be a fat dollop of hot chili.

I tried to scoop it out, to no avail. Hours of work, ruined: the spices I bloomed in the hot oil, the carefully sautιed onions, those diced vegetables, the zucchini and the butternut squash I had laboriously peeled, and all that costly organic chicken. It was all now drowning in a hostile stew. More ... Cooking Articles

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