Homemade Soup: Culinary Magic

December 12, 2011

An old proverb states that “worries go down better with soup.” 

Soup is the antidote for so many things like when we are under the weather with a cold or flu.

For my grandmothers, always having a pot of simmering chicken soup was a ritual.They saw it as a staple dish not just to warm us when old man winter came calling but to enjoy and keep us healthy all year long. There was nothing that a bowl of soup could not make better. It was culinary magic.

Soup can be more than a flavored broth. Soup has character that a cook can build upon and change with whatever ingredients are on hand.

Real soup is so easy to make that for the life of me I don’t know why canned soup exits with all its artificial ingredients. We have all heard of kitchen sink soup. Just clean out your refrigerator and you can make it. Those forgotten vegetables that have lost their shine and crunch are perfect for the soup pot. That half of an onion, those limp stalks of celery and that lonely looking container of leftover rice can enrich soup too. I even use the rinds from Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to flavor soup.

One of the most important things to remember when making soup is to start with a good stock. To make it, either use the bones from a left over roast chicken or start with a fresh bird. Toss in a couple of carrots, an onion, some celery and a bouquet garni of mixed fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary and tarragon all tied together with kitchen string. Cover everything with water, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and let the soup simmer. Season to taste at the end of the cooking process.

It is really important to keep in mind when making any kind of soup to let it cook just at a simmer with bubbles barely visible at the edges of the soup pot. This will insure that all the flavor stays in the pot and does not evaporate into thin air as it would do if soup was cooking at a rapid boil.

Most soups get better with age and many (except for cream based soups) freeze well so they can be lifesavers when you are pressed for time. And as another old proverb says: “better no spoon than no soup.”

This Poached Egg Soup is a great easy to make soup for winter eating; all the elements of a balanced meal are here with protein and carbohydrates.

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