Soups: Recipe and Tips
Posted by CHERIE THOMPSON
Soup is the answer. Seriously. Don’t eat enough vegetables? Eat more soup. Don’t have enough time to cook? Make soup. Need easy lunch ideas? Soup.
As the temperature drops our craving for hot, hearty and healthy dishes increases. Again, soup is the answer. Every kitchen, no matter the size, benefits from making more soup. It is a smart choice to serve soup and it comes down to dollars and sense.
10 Reasons Why Your Kitchen Should be Serving More Soup
1. Big Batches
Make the most of your time in the kitchen by making big batches of soup. Making a double, triple or even quadruple batch doesn’t take much more time.
2. Less Waste
When ingredients in the fridge (or freezer) are looking less than fresh, a pot of soup would still gladly embrace their goodness.
3. Simple Ingredients
Soups can be as simple as needed and therefore budget friendly. Delicious soups can be prepared using the easiest ingredients. Sure, you can always up the ante with a few not so simple ingredients, but that is completely up to you. For example, Cauliflower Soup - butter, onion, cauliflower and water. That’s it. Up the flavour by replacing water with stock or roasting the onions and cauliflower first. Add a roasted red pepper. How about a splash of hot sauce? It’s really that simple.
4. Increase Vegetable Servings
Everyone knows they should be eating more vegetables and fruits. Serving vegetable and fruit based soups is a no brainer. Yes, fruit based - squash, tomatoes, peppers – all fruits. Remember other fruits for depth of flavour – pear with butternut squash, orange with sweet potatoes and apples with carrots.
5. Managing Allergies/Aversions
Whatever the reasons, medical, religious, social – everyone wants a choice so make it their way. This process is much easier when you start and work with the simple ingredients used in soup.
6. Half Scratch
Sometimes soup is the answer, but lack of time throws a wrench in the plans. Half scratch it by using some prepared ingredients while still delivering a satisfying bowl of soup without as much fuss/time. A can of tomato soup can quickly turn into a homemade Tomato Tortellini with a few simple additions.
7. Use Soup As An Ingredient
Think beyond the bowl. Take advantage of a big batch of soup to make more than one type of meal. Butternut Squash soup is great as a pizza sauce. Minestrone is a great start for a batch of stuffing or a batch of Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf. Black Bean soup in a Tex Mex casserole or as a dip for quesadillas. Or toss some cooked pasta into Curried Lentil and Tomato soup.
8. Soup Stores Well
Soup can be stored in the fridge and in many cases tastes even better after resting. Soup can also be frozen for extended storage. It isn’t recommended to freeze cream-based soups as the freeze/thaw process can cause the dairy ingredients to separate but know that it doesn’t affect the flavour.
9. Soup Is Infinitely Customizable
Even if you are making a basic vegetable soup there are so many ways to customize it: add protein (animal or plant-based), rice, grains or even pasta. Change the flavour completely with a different spice blend. Add cubed bread, top with shredded cheese and broil. All started with a basic vegetable soup. It's so easy to travel the world (of flavours) one bowl at a time.
10. Soup Reheats Magically
Soup goes from fridge or freezer to the table in minutes.
10 Chef Tips for Making Great Soup
1. Use the right tools to make soup
Start with the right pot – A sturdy heavy bottomed pot with a lid. A flimsy pot just won’t cut it. Look for tight fitting lids and strong handles that make it easy to move around the kitchen. An immersion blender can’t be beat when it comes to pureeing soup for ease and control and removes the need to transfer the soup multiple times between containers. Ensure your spoon is long enough to stir the soup from a safe distance.
2. Roast soup ingredients to intensify flavours
Whether ingredients used in final soup or simply to make a rich stock, roasting brings out the deepest flavours. Vegetables, meats or nuts all benefit from some time in the oven.
3. Freeze soup in individual serving sizes
Thaw only what you need. Sure, you can leave the frozen soup in those containers with lids on or pop out frozen servings and store in a larger container so your smaller containers are ready to be filled again.
4. Add pasta last
To achieve the right texture of pasta, it's best to add it last and cook/reheat until the pasta is al dente. Preferably right before serving. The pasta loses its firm texture sitting in the soup either held warm or in the fridge. And is worse when it goes through the freeze, thaw and reheat cycle. If you are going to freeze your soup, leave the pasta out and add during the reheat process. Alternately, there are thick walled pastas that hold better under these conditions if you are looking to save time without sacrificing texture and quality.
5. Use homemade stock
Whenever possible, use homemade stock. As you have bits and bobs of vegetable scraps (and meat bones) available, pop them in the freezer until you have enough for a batch. Making homemade stock also means you are in complete control of ingredients and the sodium content.
6. Cook soup low and slow
Allow your soup ingredients to get to know each other and mingle. Once up to a boil, reduce and simmer.
7. Splash in something acidic
During or at the end of cooking, adding an acidic kick can bring your delicious taste up another level. Depending on your soup consider using the following – lemon, lime or orange, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, wine, beer or cider.
8. Season carefully
You can always add a pinch of salt but can’t take it out.
9. Size matters
Piece size should match the spoon. When you scoop up a spoonful you don’t want it to be slopping all over and falling off. Consistently sized pieces also mean even cooking. If you are pureeing the soup, smaller sized pieces aren’t necessary because they are going to be broken down anyways, but cooking times may increase as piece size increases.
10. Turn leftovers into soup
Sure, leftover soup can be turned into other meals, but other meals can be turned into soup. Lasagna, taco filling, cabbage rolls, veggie stir fry are all a great start to a delicious soup.
Sweet Potato Harissa Soup
Sweet and spicy, this flavourful soup comes together quickly. Vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free it's sure to please the most discerning palette. Added bonus, this soup freezes beautifully.
Makes 10 x 1 cup servings
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
6 cups chopped sweet potatoes (about 2 lb)
1 tbsp harissa
5 cups vegetable stock
Kitchen Equipment & Tools
Heavy bottom pot with lid
1. In a heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook, while stirring, for 5 minutes.
2. Add sweet potatoes and harissa. Stir until well combined, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and puree.
4. Squeeze juice from half a lemon into the pureed soup and stir through. Ladle into bowls, garnish as desired. Enjoy!
Chef TipsGarnish suggestions: plain yogurt, fresh parsley and/or cilantro, toasted almonds, roasted chickpeas.
Replace 1 cup of stock with coconut milk.
Use the soup as a sauce for pasta.
Puree with an immersion blender right in the pot (after it has been removed from the heat) or in batches in a countertop blender.