How to make soup may seem like a no-brainer to some. Here are some tips on making your homemade soup a star at the table. A hearty soup can be a meal in itself.
Whether you are experiencing warm weather or cold weather right now, there is a soup just perfect for your climate. A steaming bowl of Southwestern Taco Soup can warm you to your toes in winter, while a bowl of classic chilled gazpacho or a fruit soup is perfect for those hot summer days.
Soup Tips and Hints
• The best soups are made with a base of homemade stock and fresh ingredients. Obviously this can be a time-consuming endeavor. You can reduce your time in the kitchen by using canned or frozen broths or bouillon bases. Even so, plan on taking your time with a good soup or stew.
• Fresh ingredients are best, but some canned or frozen vegetables will work well, such as peas, green beans, and corn.
• A hot soup will help recondition the palate between meal courses or after consumption of alcholic beverages.
• Ideally, cold soups should be served in chilled dishes.
• If the soup is not intended as the main course, you can count on 1 quart to serve 6. As a main dish, plan on 2 servings per quart.
• Since liquids boil at a lower temperature at high altitudes, you may need to extend recipe cooking times at altitudes above 2500 feet.
• To reduce the fat content, make the soup the day before, chill and scrape off the fat that rises to the top. If you don’t have time to chill the soup, use an unprinted paper towel to soak up oil from the surface.
• Savory soups and stews always taste better if made a day or two in advance and reheated just before serving.
• Check seasonings of cold soups just before serving as chilled foods tend to dull the taste buds and will need more seasoning than hot soups.
• If your hot soup ends up slightly salty, add a whole, peeled potato to the soup. Simmer for about 15 minutes to absorb salt. Remove the potato and serve. (Save the potato for the cook’s treat!)
• Be aware that herbs will have a more intense flavor if added at the end of the long cooking process.
• Wine is a great flavor addition to soups and stews. When using wine or alchohol in soup, use less salt as the wine tends to intensify saltiness. Wine should be added at a ratio of no more than 1/4 cup of wine to 1 quart of soup.
• Beer is also a good addition to soups and stews. A good rule of thumb is 1 cup of beer to 3 cups of soup.
• The best method to thicken most soups and stews is to remove some of the cooked vegetables, puree in a blender, and return the pureed mixture to the pot.
• If you are short on veggies or there are none in your soup, make a paste of flour mixed with twice as much cold stock, milk or water. Add the paste and stir slowly at a simmer for about 5-10 minutes. The ratio is 1-1/2 teaspoons of flour to 1 cup of soup.
• A roux of butter and flour can also be used as a thickener. The longer the roux is cooked, the darker and more flavorful it becomes.
• Cream is another alternative to not only thicken soup, but to also add a luxurious richness.
• A cornstarch slurry of 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts liquid will also thicken, but should not be boiled because it will break down.
• Learn more about thickeners in my article on Making Perfect Gravy.
Soup Tips Photo ©2022 Peggy Filippone