Do you like soup better when it’s creamy or chunky? My husband prefers a Hungry Man chunky soup; whereas I like it both ways. Depending on my mood and hunger, it’s fun to switch it up, alternating textures and flavors. With these easy soup making tips, you can have the best of both worlds – handsomely hearty and seductively smooth.
Making soup is really quite simple and extremely rewarding. The taste of homemade broth, stew, chili or soup far out ways anything you can buy in a can. Plus, when you make it yourself, it has an added important ingredient that isn’t in any pre-made soups – love!
In the past, I thought soup needed roux (flour and butter), a ham hock or cream to make it delicious and creamy, and if I was missing an ingredient, I’d give up and not make the recipe. Since then, I’ve come a long way! In my cooking classes, and here on the blog, my hope is to spark creativity so you can play with ingredients and gain confidence in your own kitchen. So here’s my favorite soup making tips:
First step is to make the soup base using three basic ingredients: onion, garlic, and olive or coconut oil. Start by peeling and chopping the onion. Heat one to two tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for three to five minutes. Mince the peeled garlic clove(s). Then, add the garlic to the pan and cook for two more minutes.
Superior flavor comes from simple aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, celery, carrots and herbs. Allowing the creative juices to flow by trying a bouquet of veggies like fennel, leeks, shallots, scallions, peppers, or ginger not only adds depth to the final outcome of the soup but also enhances the process of making the soup. Stir in spices during the final few minutes of sautéing the vegetables and before adding the liquid.
Next, add water or stock. A good broth, preferably homemade, makes a big difference in the quality, taste and character of the soup. Once you get into the groove of making your own, it’s really no biggie. Just chop some veggies and simmer together in water or place a whole chicken in pot with onions and a few carrots, cover with water and simmer for several hours. Get my favorite vegetable broth recipe here and chicken stock recipe here.
The third step is to add the protein or starch – such as split peas, lentils, chicken, turkey, or beef – and any additional vegetables, greens, potatoes or rice. (If I”m adding beans to my soup that are already cooked I wait until the end so they don’t get all mushy).
Cooking time depends on what you’ve got in the pot. Lentils or split peas will need to simmer about forty five minutes to get tender. Starches such as cubed potatoes only need about fifteen minutes. After they are cooked, decide if you want to keep the chunky texture or if you want to blend it up and make it creamy. An immersion blender works extremely well for pureeing soups right in the pot – it’s a magic kitchen wand!
Whether your soup is chunky or creamy, the fourth and final step is the garnish the soup. This is an optional step but can give your recipe a delicious punch by adding another layer of flavor. Some options are dash of lemon or lime juice, tamari or coconut aminos, balsamic vinegar, coconut cream, wine, herbs like tarragon, cilantro, mint or sage, and to spice it up some tabasco or red chill pepper flakes.
Really, anything goes. Experiment, have fun, be free…..
What’s your favorite soup making magic?