A Bowl of Soup for You?

IMG_5008What dish can be prepared in one pot, be cooked quickly and offers pretty much any variety you like? Anyone? Yes, it’s a pot of soup and I’d like to share my favorite soup recipes this week. And unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere – which I know some of you are 🙂 – there are few dishes that warm your heart, soul and stomach more during these colder winter months than a delicious bowl of soup. Come and cook with us!

I love soups of any kind: whether of the quick variety or long-simmering, creamy or chunky, winter or summer, meat-based or vegetarian. It’s a matter of what you have in the fridge and what role the soup will play in your meal. A simple stracciatella egg soup or tomato soup are perfect for an appetizer, a chicken soup or minestrone can be a great light lunch and a more substantial bean or sausage soup can be your one-stop-pot for dinner.

My specific list does not include any beef or chicken soups made from scratch, as I’m focusing on the types of soups you can make with what you have in your fridge or pantry. And I hope nobody has a whole chicken lying around without a plan on how to use it TODAY. Also, I generally like to finish our soups either with parmesan and olive oil or some miso. Both of these finishes are added directly to each individual plate: the cheese would otherwise stick to the hot pot and the miso would lose it’s nutritional value when it gets too hot. Either way, both options are great and add nutrition to your meal. Finally, many soups definitely taste much better when you use some bouillon cubes to improve the flavor, but please go lightly on those products and diligently read the ingredients list as they are often packed with flavor enhances such as yeast extract or monosodium glutamate which are no good for you.

Here is how I categorize my soups ranging from the simple to the more complex:

  1. A simple vegetable soup, such a tomato, split-pea, pumpkin, carrot or potato soup can be made quickly with an onion or leak, a vegetable, water and some herbs. You can add a good-quality stock but it is often unnecessary. My mom is very skilled at turning these simple vegetable purees into something more sophisticated by “refining” them with a simple small batch of bechamel that adds the ubiquitous “Cream of” to your soup. I don’t buy canned soup, but I am even more suspicious of the mixture of processed ingredients that go into most of the creamed soups on the super market shelf. And making bechamel is easy: one tablespoon each of butter and flour to one cup of milk.
  2. The ever so popular Italian minestrone. It’s what I make on the last day before my new CSA box arrives to finish all odds and ends in the vegetable crisper of the fridge. Start with the onions or leeks and work yourself all the way from the hardier vegetables to the lighter ones, with the exception of potatoes as they like to stick to the pot and make the roasting of the vegetables in the pot before you add the water almost impossible. You can also experiment with pairing a batch of beans or lentils with a variety of different vegetables. My current favorite is a simple bean and butternut squash that is fast an delicious.
  3. At the far end of the spectrum of elaborated soups, I have a harira or a sausage, mushroom and clam juice soup. This latter one is absolutely mind-blowing and an all-time favorite in my house and often served as an everyday family dinner meal.

So when in doubt, grab an onion and some vegetables, throw it all together and turn it into a hot bowl of soup. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s versatile and it tastes delicious. We have listed a few of our favorite recipes below and you can find more on one of our prior posts on soups. Come and cook with us!

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