My adventures at George Brown Culinary 1 - Day 3

George Brown: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Today we talk about sauces and soups. If there's one complaint I have, it's that we don't get to do a sauce lab which I would have much preferred over doing a soup. Before class even started, chef helped me select my new knives and we had an impromptu discussion about MSG and gluten and how the industry is now adapting how they make foods to protect people with various allergies and sensitivities. He made a roux and went through a rather exhaustive chart of sauces and how they are made. It would take me a month to actually test these all out so I'll pass for now.

After the roux was prepared, Chef Klaus sweated onions in butter and proceeded to cook the mushrooms for the Cream of Mushroom soup demo. While that was being prepared, he prepped the ingredients for the Piquant Vegetable Soup – that by the way contains chicken stock and bacon! This soup is also what we minions in our white chef coats and hats have to prepare for our lab. As luck would have it, the recipe called for Kaffir lime leaves which I desperately need for a video I plan to make this weekend and Chef Klaus generously gave me a few extra to take home! These leaves once boiled for a few minutes leave a ridiculous aroma and taste. Once we tasted the soups, it's ready set prep!

We read and re read the recipe and proceeded to dice our way through all the ingredients. I left the bacon out in my recipe and the soup was made in no time. Would I ever make this soup again? Probably not, but I'm really anxious to try the mushroom soup, tweak it and make it my own. We all got to take home a little over a litre of soup minus the cup and a half that spilled over and stained everything in my bag on the way home!

Things I learned

Hollandaise sauce is delicious but can be one of the most dangerous sauces to make. It's shelf life is only one hour, keep it longer and you could get sick.

When making a sauce either add hot stock to a cold roux or cold stock to a hot roux.

Cook canned tomato paste first to remove that 'canned' after taste

To thicken a soup without using gluten use pureed veggies, cornstarch or arrow root

The main difference between shallots and red onions besides the cost factor is that shallots melt away in the cooking process

When rehydrating mushrooms never pour hot water on the mushrooms, use room temp water and leave for a few hours, if in a rush, use lukewarm water and leave for an hour

Do not throw away the water the mushrooms soak in, its packed with flavour – only discard the bottom that will contain sand, dirt and impurities.

When using cream in a hot liquid, always use 18% - 35%, the higher the percentage, the better it holds up

When using pasta in soups look for pastas that are made especially for soups or spaghetti – these don't swell up in the liquid and turn into 'monster noodles'


  1. Love this Karen. Some of these tips are fab. I love the tip about the cream, btw, I always use heavy cream to stop splitting my sauce.

  2. Thanks Michelle! There are so many amazing tips, I'm so happy I can share!