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Chemistry in Kitchen: Broccoli Soup With a Twist

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Read my previous blog to learn the difference between baking powder and baking soda. I have listed possible other uses of baking soda, beside the commonly known one: baking. Baking soda preserves and enhances the green color of vegetables while cooking in water and also affects cellular wall structure, speeding cooking by about 25-30%.

Broccoli soup – with a twist

Ingredients for an experiment:
– 500 grams of broccoli
– 1.5 litres of water
– 3 beef stock cubes
– mashed potato powder (4 spoons)
– powdered garlic ( 2 teaspoons)
– powdered ginger (1 teaspoon)
– baking soda (half a teaspoon)

Preparation

This is a chemical experiment that you will be able to eat at the end. Fill two pots with three quarters of a liter of water each and bring water to a boil. Add 1.5 beef stock cubes to each pot and wait for the cubes to dissolve completely. Now add 250 grams broccoli to each pot, add baking soda to only the left pot, and start a timer.

After five minutes take out a piece of broccoli from each of the pots. The left is broccoli cooked in beef stock with added baking soda, the right is broccoli cooked in beef stock alone. You can see that left one is greener, but also very mushy.

Put both pieces back in their respective pots and add one teaspoon of powdered garlic and half of the teaspoon of powdered ginger to each of the pots.

After an additional three minutes of cooking, the broccoli with added baking soda was ready to blend, making the total cooking time eight minutes. The total cooking time of the broccoli without added baking soda was 12 minutes.

I used a handheld blender to puree soup in both pots, then added two spoons of mashed potato powder to each of the pots, to make it decently thick. Let’s compare the color of the two soups:

On the left is the one cooked with baking soda, on the right the one without. The difference in color is substantial. Taste-wise the left one is more potent as baking soda also enhances the tastes of ginger and garlic.

The same principle can be applied also when cooking other green vegetables, like green beans, peas, spinach, etc. I recommend soaking peas in baking soda before cooking.

A quick explanation about photos and programs: I have used a pretty old Canon D30 with an ancient lens (Canon EF 28-90) in pretty low light conditions. Photos are not edited, except for some cropping. Software used to combine the photos is good old MS Paint.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog about the effect of baking soda on cooked red vegetables.

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