Soup Savvy

September 3, 2019

Never made soup? There are no rules and the process could not be simpler. And if your soup savvy extends to canned varieties, I hope you’ll read the fine print on the back of the label because many of them serve up mega doses of salt.

In my house soup takes shape as soon as I open the refrigerator door and clean out leftovers. Monday’s veggies, last night’s chicken, that small container of cooked rice, all get a new lease on taste when added to the soup pot. That’s the beauty of “creating” soup. Just about anything can be thrown into the pot, even wilted lettuce! A piping hot bowl of soup is not only comforting, and nourishing but is often a meal in itself.

Contrary to what many people thing, soup does not have to start with a stock or broth made from scratch. I have made many a soup in which the primary liquid, or sometimes the only liquid, is just water in which I have wilted down a bunch of aromatic vegetables like carrots, parsnips, celery and onions. The beauty of this is that the vegetables create their own flavorful juices without a lot of fuss. Other liquids I have used include tomato juice, milk, and wine. And you can get creative adding to that things like rice, black beans, tiny pasta noodles, eggs, cheese and lots of other stuff you have in your cupboard or pantry. I even add cheese rinds to soup for extra flavor!

Say stock or broth to some people and they seem to think this is beyond their ability. Just what is the difference between stock and broth? Well, simply put, a broth is a liquid in which vegetables, poultry, meat or fish are boiled. Seasonings and herbs are added to refine and round out the flavor. Broth based soups tend to be lighter than stock based ones. A stock on the other hand, often begins with roasting meat, or poultry bones along with vegetables, then tossing them in a stock pot, and covering them with liquid, Simmering everything creates a full bodied, dark rich stock. Broth and stock are often used to enhance the taste of sauces.I always make enough to freeze so I always have it on hand.

Anyone can open a can of soup but it is far better to open your refrigerator and create your own from what you already have on hand. Once you start, there is no end to the soups you can make with just a few ingredients. Now that is being a savvy soup maker!

Chicken Vegetable Soup
Makes about 3 quarts

5 to 6 meaty chicken thighs or 10 chicken wings
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
2 large onions, quartered
1 whole bay leaf
2 sprigs each fresh Italian parsley and basil, tied together with kitchen string
Juice of 1 lemon
2 ribs celery with leaves, cut into 4 pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and halved
5 black peppercorns, crushed

Place the chicken thighs in a large stockpot with the salt, garlic, onions, bay leaf, herbs, lemon juice, celery, carrots, peppercorns and enough cold water to cover the pieces. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook with cover ajar for 45 minutes, skimming off any foam that collects.

Remove the vegetables, chicken parts and herbs and set aside

Line a large fine mesh sieve with damp paper towel set over a large bowl and pour the liquid through the sieve. Discard any solids.

Cut chicken and vegetables into pieces and add to soup.

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