Wednesday, December 12

How to Dominate Some Soup

Soup is delicious and nutritious. Soup making is one of the bedrock skills of the kitchen world. Thing about that is a lot of people seem to skip that lesson somewhere along the line. I have been cooking for years, basically since I was old enough to start helping in the kitchen, but I never really learned to make soup. I never thought that it was an important thing for me to learn to make and I always assumed that I would be able to just do it like I was able to just know how to make most of everything else. My grandma makes soup like nobody’s business, growing up I got used to having all kinds of soups and stews all the time. Whether my grandma made a fresh pot for that nights dinner or had made one earlier and frozen it we almost always had soup around. Now let’s get to how to dominate some fantastic soup. 

First off you need to get your cooking apparatus. A larger pot with handles on the side and a good solid lid is what you’re looking for. Stainless steel is good, it’s light but sturdy and is an excellent material for radiating heat. The best soup pots are taller than they are wide and have a thicker bottom than sides. This allows for better heat transfer and convection. Now that you have your apparatus, let’s get started. I am going to run through how I make a basic  fresh vegetable soup. This will just give you an idea how to put it together. After the recipe I will have a run-down of the basics to keep in your kitchen to be conducive to a soup making environment.

What you will need:
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 cups Leeks - chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 cups carrots - peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes - peeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh green beans - broken into smaller pieces
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups tomatoes - peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 ears fresh corn - kernels removed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
  • 1-2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice - or the juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

Keep in mind that you can use frozen or canned vegetables. For the posterity of this fresh vegetable soup I am using all fresh. First things first, get your pot over some medium-low heat and add your olive oil. Slosh it around a bit and make sure to get all of the bottom of your pot, as soon as it starts to ripple you can throw in your leeks and garlic as well as a pinch of salt to pull out some of that moisture. These are your aromatics. They have the strong full-bodied tastes and will enhance the flavor and experience that your soup puts across. Let those aromatics soften up and get to work. Once they are soft we can go ahead and add the first wave of veggies. We’re going to start with the harder veggies. The ones that need a little longer to cook and to soften up. Get your carrots in there, potatoes next and then the green beans. Now, since these are all foods that contain a little bit of sugar, they will benefit from the added heat. Go ahead and kick it up to medium and let them cook for four or five minutes. Don’t forget to stir occasionally! Time to add so liquidy good-ness. Add your broth, whether it be homemade or store bought is up to you, and there is no shame in using store bought. The soup will be fantastic either way. Stir that beast up and kick that heat up to high. We’re aiming for a simmer here, keep stirring! 

Once you have attained a simmer then it’s time for you to let the second wave of veggies to join the party. Now the way that I add the rest of the veggies is using a strainer spoon. The reason that I use the tool is for safety. It is much safer to slowly lower the veggies in to the hot soup than to just dump them in causing the hot liquid to splash. Get your tomatoes in to the hot mess and then the corn kernels. Now is the time to add your pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon should be good, but season to your taste. If you want to add any other seasonings then now is the time to do it. About now you should also check your veggies. We’re aiming for “fork tender” which means that the vegetables yield to a fork, but they don’t fall apart. Finally, the last minute seasoning. Get some parsley in there to brighten up the flavor a bit and then the juice from one lemon, or about 1-2 teaspoons, to bring up the acidity. And that’s it. Serve and eat or portion out and store by freezing it. There you have it, an easy and super yummy fresh veggie soup that is very healthy!

While fresh is always better, there are some corners you can cut and there are things that you can always have in your pantry so that you can whip up a soup quick if need be. Now you should always have some broths around, or the makings of broth. Make it whatever type of broth you like working with the most. I always kept vegetable broth and chicken broth around. Now from time to time when I would find myself without my chicken broth I would just make my own. Whether I would end up using leftover chicken or just making a broth with chicken base would depend on what else I was making that week. Beef broth is also a good one to keep around. What you keep on hand will depend on your kitchen, cooking style and your family’s taste. Next, you should always have certain spices in your spice cabinet such as cumin, chili powder, curry powder, and the like. Spices that are essential to specific soups like chili or curried wild rice.

Next you should always keep some dried beans on hand. Play around and see what beans you like the most and keep them in your pantry. They stay good for long enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about having them on hand. Next is barley. It’s an ingredient that can add the extra special something and can give your soup or stew that little extra body that it needed. It can also be used as a thickening agent in place of beans, rice, or noodles. On that note, you should always have some rice and noodles on hand. I always kept rice around because it is one of my absolute favorite side dishes and it is also one of my favorite foods in general. I always had a big bag of jasmine rice and I also would have some regular white or brown rice around if the jasmine rice wouldn’t work for a dish. It’s usually a good idea to keep some noodles, of your choosing, in your pantry to use in your soups and because they are just nice to have!

Now, the next few things I am going to say that you should have around is up to you and the way you cook. I like having some frozen and canned veggies around all the time just because I usually decide that there is a vegetable that I would like to have as a side or would like to add to something at the last minute and I can’t be running to the market for every little thing. Fresh veggies are better, heck you can even save extra veggies that you prepped for other meals and had too much of and through in a soup at the end of the week. And last but not least you should keep some meats in your freezer that you can use for soups, stews, casseroles and the like. I would usually keep chicken breast and some beef chunks in the freezer. Go with whatever meats talk to you and you feel most comfortable making. 

The best thing about soups? It is an awesome starter recipe for kids. Kids should be started in the kitchen young, and soups are something that is straightforward and can be easily taught to children. You can start them stirring or chopping or even breaking up the green beans if they are still too young to be handling a knife. Cooking with kids is an entire post all on its own though! So go, make soup and have fun! Play around with the goods that you have hiding in your pantry and your fridge or freezer and see what you come up with. Comment and let me know how your soup goes!

Sorry about going MIA on Sunday and Monday. My schedule got pushed a few days back and I ended up being without internet for a few days so I'm planning on just pushing everything back by a few days. The giveaway will open on Friday and I will have a pretty little link on the sidebar for entry. The prize will be a beautiful shawl or a bath set with soy candle, handmade soap, wash clothes (2) and soap stand. Winners choice. I shall see everyone on Friday with the weekly post and more details about the giveaway. Comment, Subscribe, and share! Hope you're all having a good week!

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