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Don't know your bisque from your chowder, here's a quick guide.

Tips to make your soups successful

 

Cooking Class

Soup Secrets

Soup is the original restaurant meal. Several centuries ago, the first French restaurateur served soup at his establishment, causing a stir. Soup had long been the domain of innkeepers and to serve it outside an inn was unheard of. Thus was born the first restaurant — defined as such because it served soup but did not lodge guests.

Soup's popularity has endured, but now it's more often the strong suit of the home cook rather than the restaurant chef. Making soup is simple, therapeutic and creative. There are no strict techniques to learn and it can be made with anything from the finest ingredients to the humblest leftovers.

There are some basic procedures that make good soup a cinch. We'll teach you those, plus in a series of cooking classes, we'll explain how to transform simple soups into elegant dishes.


What Goes in the Pot

Seasonings such as dried and fresh herbs, spices, garlic and shallots, to add depth of flavor to compliment the main ingredients.

Vegetables and trimmings, called mirepoix, to provide a flavor base to highlight the main ingredients. Try onions, leeks, celery or carrots.

A small amount of fat to sweat the mirepoix and seasonings in. Look for monounsaturated oils such as grapeseed, olive and canola.

A liquid, usually stock or water, to slowly simmer the ingredients and meld the flavors.

The main ingredients, which will become the primary flavor of the soup.

Some ingredients are added more as a thickener than for flavor.

Garnishes for visual appeal, texture, taste and substance to the finished soup.


How to Stir It Up

  1. Slowly cook the mirepoix and seasonings in the fat over low heat to draw out their flavors.
  2. Add the liquid and simmer for twenty minutes or more.
  3. Add the main ingredients (and thickener) and cook until the flavors are blended and the main ingredients are tender.
  4. Puree all the ingredients or only half the ingredients in a blender or food processor (optional).
  5. Garnish.


Great Garnishes

  • Chopped fresh herbs, especially parsley
  • Toasted nuts and seeds
  • Cooked, diced ham, poultry or smoked fish
  • Low-fat yogurt or sour cream
  • Pesto or flavored oils
  • Chopped, blanched veggies

Recipes

Asparagus Soup
Curried Tomato Soup with Riso
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup with Winter Vegetables
South-of-the-Border Soup
Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Onions and Apples
Kale and Potato Soup
Onion Soup with Cheese Croutons

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Soup Tips

  • Salting the soup at the beginning draws out the flavors and often allows you to use less salt. There's one exception — NEVER salt a soup made with dried legumes until it is finished or the beans won't get tender.
  • Avoid using vegetables like broccoli, cabbage or Brussels sprouts as a base. They impart an "off" flavor when cooked for long periods of time.
  • If you're using store-bought stock or broth, choose "low-sodium."
  • Use more liquid when cooking starchy vegetables, such as winter squash, potatoes and legumes. Use less with vegetables that have a high water content like leafy greens.
  • Reach for grains, potatoes and rice to add nutrients and thicken the soup.
  • Use 5 parts of the main ingredients and a total of 1 part mirepoix.
  • Use fewer carrots and orange colored vegetables when making soups that will be predominantly green or white.

 

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