Gina Batali and Nancy Karis.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Gina Batali (l) and Salumi's soup specialist, Nancy Karis.
This is the second part of our Q&A with Nancy Karis, the


Salumi's Soup Specialist Shares Some More Secrets

Gina Batali and Nancy Karis.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Gina Batali (l) and Salumi's soup specialist, Nancy Karis.
This is the second part of our Q&A with Nancy Karis, the veteran chef who makes some of the best soups in Seattle at the world-famous Salumi. (Read Part One here.)

Though her family might rib her about being too generous with the salt shaker, Karis knows the key to fan-freaking-tastic soup is in the seasoning.

Here are a few tips from Karis for aspiring home cooks:

SW: What do you like to cook at home?

Karis: If it was just my husband and I, I would cook whatever I wanted, but I'm cooking for kids (her daughters are 9 and 11), so we do a lot of basics, the same stuff anybody does. We grill a lot because it's easy: chicken, lamb chops, steaks. I do a lot of braises, too. Lamb stew, short ribs, chicken. I roast chicken all the time. I love Thomas Keller's roast chicken.

SW: What are some of your favorite cookbooks?

Karis: I love Madeline's cookbooks and Marcella Hazan's. I love Tom Douglas's cookbooks and, of course, Mario's.

SW: Any advice for beginner cooks?

Karis: I think mothers and fathers need to teach their kids how to cook, it starts there. But if that didn't happen, if you don't have any idea where to start, get a basic cookbook, I don't care if it's Betty Crocker or The Joy of Cooking. Choose something simple. Read through the recipe and get your ingredients together. You need to understand what you're about to do before you start so you don't have to go running off in the middle of a dish to try and find something.

A lot of beginning cooks have trouble with timing, which is what so great about braising. They turn out wonderful and they take very little effort. Be sure and taste while cooking, especially before serve it. My Dad says since I started working at Salumi, I over-salt everything.

SW: That's what I love about the soups. They're perfectly seasoned. What's the secret for getting those deep flavors?

Karis: When I first started working here, we would bring in chickens and beef bones to make stock, but then I started using the odds and ends: bits of prosciutto, ends of salami. You've got to keep tasting and seasoning, especially at the end.

SW: What about summer? Who eats soup in the summer?

Karis: It's challenging sometimes because we don't have as many cold soup recipes. We get a lot of tourist coming through and they're coming for the meat and sandwiches, so we don't sell as much soup. At home, I love to make soup when I'm entertaining. I serve a cup of soup as a first course. I could eat gazpacho every day.

SW: Wow. That binder looks like it has hundreds of recipes in it. Have you made them all?

Karis: I keep adding recipes to our book. It's getting fatter and fatter. Everybody who works here has a favorite. Brian (D'Amato, Gina Batali's husband and the big cheese in the salumi-making department) is always asking: "When are you going to do that onion soup again?"

pork loving pig.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Salumi loves pork lovers.
It's made from a pork stock. That was his favorite until a few weeks ago when I made a smoky tomato. I am constantly updating, going through magazines and cookbooks. I like to adapt recipes, change things up.

There are a couple new ones from Mario in there I haven't tried. I think Armo just stuck them in there.

Check out tomorrow's Grillaxin' for Karis' Smokey Tomato Soup recipe.

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