If you watch Food Network, Cooking Channel or PBS, you'll often see a chef adding some sort of acid to his/her dish to finish it. When asked why, the chef explains that many of these dishes need some acid to balance out the richness or flavor in the dish. This makes sense to me, but I find that I don't often think about adding vinegar or lemon juice to a dish naturally, but when I'm reminded of this rule, I add it, and I'm always amazed at the difference it makes. Last night, I was making vegetable soup from the leftover veggies in my fridge.
Onion, carrots, celery, turnips, mushrooms, collard greens, ditalini pasta and chicken broth made up my little concoction. I added a few flavorings like Worcestershire sauce, Better than Bouillon, salt, pepper and some savory. But it needed something else, and I couldn't put my finger on it. I googled vegetable soup recipes and first up came my friend, Alton Brown. I perused his recipe and sure enough, at the end, Alton suggested adding freshly cut flat leaf parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I grabbed a lemon, cut it in half and juice half of it into my soup. I stirred it up, tasted and was blown away by the difference in flavor from just a few squirts of the humble lemon. All the flavors of each vegetable suddenly stood up and said, "Here I am!" I think I need to just keep this tip right on my fridge so I don't forget about it again. What a gem!