So let’s talk soup!
We eat a lot of it in the winter months and I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite meals.
I even eat it for breakfast.
I love the versatility of soup. I am not a rule follower and usually never refer to a recipe when making anything except baked goods.
I think that’s why i like soup so much. It’s a simple meal that allows for some creativity but there are no strict rules. Soup is pretty hard to get wrong. Especially if you follow a few simple guidelines.
I usually cook a whole chicken in the crock-pot once a week at this time of year. It provides us several meals including stock for soup. After we pick the meat off we immediately throw all of the bones and excess into a pot and cover with water to boil and then simmer for a few hours. We then strain the golden juice into a jar for the next batch of soup. Although I often use store bought chicken broth, there is nothing like homemade. It’s like liquid gold in any soup.
If you have a good quality broth, olive oil, onions, garlic and a few vegetables (especially those stragglers in the fridge that are a little past their prime) you are ready to make some soup!
a few simple soup tips…
:: Always have onions and garlic in the pantry. All other veggies can vary but these two will really enhance the flavors of the other veggies you use especially when sauteed all together in olive oil or butter.
:: Clean out your fridge. Yes, you can use rubbery carrots, limp parsnips and wilty greens. When cooked up with other ingredients they will still taste good. Soup is a great way to reduce waste in your kitchen.
:: Experiment with herbs and spices. I admit to being a curry-aholic and make a lot of curry based soups but there are so many herbs to choose from. Don’t be afraid to use fresh herbs too, especially sprinkled on top of individual bowls of soup. I love fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.
:: Condiments can add flavor. Things like ketchup, sriracha, worcestershire and soy sauce have made their way into many of my soups.
:: Tomato sauce, tomato paste and canned tomatoes are a soups best friend.
:: Add greens. Swiss chard, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, turnip greens…. they all taste great in soup. I always have a sad looking bunch of greens sitting in my fridge that can quickly be rescued in to soup.
:: Broth heavy in roots and squashes can be pureed into a creamy flavorful soup. Save the last few cups of the batch and freeze to add to your next soup’s broth to provide a rich texture and flavor.
:: Boost your broth with a Parmesan rind. It will add substantial flavor to your soup.
:: If not adding meats to your soup, add lentils or beans for a boost of protein. Lentils can be directly added to simmering broth and other ingredients. Other hardier beans will need to be cooked ahead of time.
:: Taste, sip, sample while you cook. I am a big supporter of adding ingredients and then tasting. There is nothing more disappointing than making a meal without tasting as you go along to find that the is just too salty or spicy. Although there are a few tips to reverse these mistakes I still recommend getting out a spoon and sipping as you go.
:: If you have a husband like me who doesn’t accept soup as a meal unless bread is involved, try other alternatives to store bought. Homemade biscuits or cornbread are really simple to whip up and with a nice hunk of cheese you have a complete meal.
Next week I will offer a step by step guide to my weekly soup.
One awesome strategy in my house is having a “stock bits” bag in the freezer. I put all the odds and ends of my veggies in there (onion ends and peels, carrot ends, celery ends, stems from greens, etc.). When it comes time to make stock, I just dump it all in the pot with the bones and water. Makes a super flavorful and extra healthy broth. I <3 soup!!!
Morgan G. says
Thanks for these tips, Amy! Some of them I am familiar with, but others I haven’t thought much about, such as adding condiments to my soups (except I do use soy sauce for my Asian-style soups). I kind of slacked off on making soups this winter. Need to get my soup-making mojo back.
Hi Amy! I have been making soup lately too and trying new recipes. Looking forward to your next soup post! 🙂