How to Make Soup
PHOTO BY: basheertome
A friend asked me for some pointers on soup making. I had a thorough conversation with other colleagues about the subject too earlier in the week.
It occurred to me to write a post about it. And put it here on the EGG DAY blog, my place to talk about my love of food.
I shall try to be as concise as possible. Hehehe...that's almost impossible when it comes to talking soup.
I think of the world of soup divided in two sections: non creamy and creamy soups. There are more but right now lets keep it there.
Non Creamy soups are dried bean soups, tomato based soups and broth based. OMG, I feel the need to create a visual. I might need to do that before this is done. Bean soups that start with dried beans are different than canned beans because there's the soaking/cooking piece that happens first and you don't start with a dry pot and a sautee.
Creamy soups start with a dry pot-but they end differently, with milk or cream and probably a roux.
However much of the middle stuff is the same.
Okay, first you steal a chicken. What?! No that's how my immigrant father starts telling his recipe for Hungarian Chicken Paprikash.
What you nearly almost always must have is onions and garlic, broth or stock and your main ingredient. Like chicken or cauliflower or kale or mushrooms or whatever.
What you would do well to have on hand is celery and carrots, maybe peppers, wine and herbs that compliment your main ingredient.
Nice additions are carbohydrates, like barley, itty bitty pasta, diced white or sweet potatoes, rice.
In the fat of your choice sautee the onions. Once they get translucent add garlic. Let that cook a minute. Add your main ingredient, sautee that a few minutes then add your broth. Season for taste and let it cook a good hour or two.
Okay, so you have the carrots and celery. Add that after the garlic. Let it cook until it's soft, then add a splash of wine. Cook that down (boil it off) then add your main ingredient, the broth, seasoning etc, and let it cook. Done.
So you have a carb you want to add? This you do in the last 60 minutes of your cooking time. Be careful not to add too much because this stuff explodes. Really for a good size pot of soup you really only need a third of a cup of barley or pasta. The potatoes won't explode so think about how potatoey you want your final soup to be and add accordingly. Their cooking time depends on how big or little you cut them. I know basic common sense, but I thought I'd say it.
You can drop canned beans or tomatoes into your soup any time after the broth goes in.
DRIED BEAN SOUP
Google that. All beans are a little different. There are ways to cook them quicker than others. Legumes, like lentils and split peas are great bean soups to make quickly. Rinse them and bring them to a boil. Drop all the goodies you want into them after they've started to boil. Add a ton of salt and season heavily because the starchy stuff needs more herb and spice than a delicate broth. Again, onions and garlic are the basic musts to have but the others- celery, carrots, canned tomatoes and bits of meat are great too.
Like the basic soup above you've done it. All your veggies are soft and your soup is looking a little grey or brown or green AND you want to use up the bit of half and half before it goes bad. Add your dairy at the very end. It can be milk, cream, half and half, condensed non fat milk in the can; they are all good. Bring the pot back up to temperature to just under a simmer.
Now you'll make the roux: In a little pot melt some butter or margarine -hush, margarine works and if it's what's in the house that's what you use. Use about 4 tablespoons for an average pot of soup. Add 4 tablespoons of white flour to the butter. This is not the time to go whole wheaty. Make a paste and add it to you soup. Cook until you don't taste the raw flour flavor. If you are adding cheese, now is the time; after the roux is cooked.
Generally add tomato products in place of some of the broth. If you are making a straight up cream of tomato soup, start with onions and garlic, add cans of diced tomatoes, puree and bit of broth and seasoning. Let it cook an hour or so for the flavors to mingle. Add cream and roux and cook a bit more. Get it? Easy Peasy.
Use common sense when combining things. I personally think broccoli tomato soup sounds hideous.
Use other things like leeks in place of onions, shallots in place of garlic. Make your stock (stock has bones, broth is meat-no bones). Puree your soup before you thicken it. Blanch bits of your veggies to add after pureeing the pot; asparagus tips and tiny diced potatoes come to mind. Garnish with sour cream, chives, grated cheese, diced hard cooked egg or croûtons.
Golly and we didn't even go to: Try traditional ethnic flavors from South American, Indian, Asian, Russian...there are so many variations on the theme and really it's as simple as cook some veggies in broth.
Don't you just LOVE soup?!
And mind you I didn't hit upon stews, chilis and chicken noodle...those are different enough that they'll have to be a different post.
Okay it's your turn. Spill the beans: What's your favorite soup or soup flavor combinations? If you're an EGG DAY goer, would you be down for a separate Soup Party? You know a pot luck where you bring your best pot of soup and a bunch of containers to take home other people's left overs?
Hit me up in the comment section. I'd love to hear from you.