It’s funny to think that soup was the original restaurant dish, in France no less, but nowadays is associated mainly with casual, cozy meals at home. I get a lot of pleasure from the sight and smell of a big pot of soup bubbling on the stove. Making soup is simple and quite creative and the flavor combinations are limitless.
You can make soup with just about anything, literally. Veggies, meat, fish, poultry, grains and pasta are all good candidates for the soup pot. At this time of year, I like to take advantage of the last of the tomatoes for tomato bread soup. Butternut squash soup with caramelized onions is another personal favorite of mine. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are in season now and make terrific soups with just a little milk or cream and herbs to help them shine.
Every good soup begins with a mirepoix, which is a combination of chopped onions (you can substitute leeks) carrots and celery cooked slowly over low heat in a bit of butter or oil. Add to that a few basic herbs such as parsley, thyme and a bay leaf to enhance the overall taste of the soup. Now for the main ingredients – add roughly five times as much of the main ingredients as you did mirepoix. Next up is the liquid (broth, stock or water), which should simmer for at least 5 to 10 minutes. One of my all-time favorite kitchen tools is a hand-held immersion blender. You can puree as much of the soup as you like right in the pot! It really cuts down on the cleanup.
I am a huge fan of garnishes for soup because they add depth of flavor, texture and visual appeal. Some choice ones are chopped herbs, toasted nuts and seeds, pesto or a flavored oil, yogurt or sour cream, or chopped, blanched veggies.