One of the handiest tools in my kitchen is my immersion blender, also known as a hand blender. Immersion blenders have been around for about ten years, and do almost everything that a regular blender does. I have one of the older models made by Braun. Braun makes a number of small household appliances. I also have their coffee maker. (But that’s something for another day.)
For those of you not familiar with an immersion blender, imagine a 12 inch plastic cylinder ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand with a twirling blade at the bottom. To mix, blend or puree, all you have to do is literally immerse the blade in your pot, cup or bowl and push the button. The blade must remain fully immersed or you’ll splatter yourself a bit.
One of the things I like is its ease of cleanup. If you’d like a smoothie, all you have to do is put the ingredients in a large cup, give it a whirl or two, run the blade end under hot water for a few moments and it’s clean. Nothing else to wash but your cup, but of course you’d have that anyway. My Braun hand blender came with a plastic cup as an accessory along with a wall mounting bracket so that it can be conveniently stored in a cupboard. The new models come with a variety of accessories and range in price from around $15.00 to over $400.00 by companies such as Waring, KitchenAid, and Conair.
Something that is important to me, as a matter of both safety and convenience, is the ability to blend right in the pot. If you are making hot soup that needs to be pureed, you have three options.
Wait until it cools and then pour it in small batches into your traditional blender, pour the soup in hot and take the chance of scalding yourself, or, with an immersion blender you can just put the blade into the pot and off you go.
A quick tip: When you are pureeing, be sure to keep the base of the blender at an angle to the base of the pot. If the blender is touching the bottom of the pot, the food won’t circulate, and the machine can’t do its job. I had a friend who had problems using her immersion blender and therefore disliked it. When I explained that you need to keep it angled to allow the food to move through the mechanism she called back to say that it worked perfectly. Depending on the depth of what you are blending you should keep the blade about an inch above the bottom of the pot, and you should move the unit through the liquid as if you were gently stirring it.
The appliance is versatile. Not only do I use it for the basics like milk shakes, smoothies and pureeing soup, it is also wonderful for making homemade refried beans and Hummus. Here’s a recipe you can use to try it out:
Sweet Potato Soup
- 2 teaspoons butter or margarine
- ½ cup sliced carrots
- ½ cup sliced celery
- 1 ½ cups seeded, peeled and chopped tomatoes
(or do what I do and use the 28oz can of diced tomatoes)
- 6 cups broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable – water will do if necessary)
- 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
- pepper to taste
- Plain yogurt as sour cream as garnish
In a large pot, sauté the carrots and celery in the butter or margarine for about 5 minutes. Do not brown them. Add the tomatoes and cook to reduce the liquid a bit. Add the broth and the sweet potatoes, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot and let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft.
Remove the pan from the heat and puree the mixture directly in the pot. Add pepper and reheat as needed. (This soup can be served cold also, but we prefer it hot) Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.)
This recipe is from Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet.