Monday, August 4, 2014

| method: soup |

I love soup. Always have. Once I figured out the basic method for making soup, I was in soup heaven. Here is my basic technique. It's a great way to use up whatever you have in the fridge and make a hearty meal or two or four. I love to make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week for my lunches. I take a mason jar full of soup and my favorite easy salad for lunch all week long. (Sidenote: favorite easy salad is arugula with a diced hardboiled egg, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.)

Okay. Soup-making time.

1) Fat and aromatics.
Get some fat going in a big pot. Olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, butter, whatever. 
Add in your aromatics. Things like onion, leeks, shallots, garlic, carrots, celery. Whatever you want. Tip: if you're doing garlic, don't go too hot or it will burn. Keep on a medium heat.
Saute until they start to get soft.
(Meanwhile: heat up your broth. I usually heat water in an electric tea kettle and add the liquid veggie bouillon to it. You could also just heat broth in a separate pot, of course.)

3) Other veggies and seasonings (maybe).
Rule of thumb: if you're using dried seasonings, add them now. If you don't know what kind of herb to put in, I find oregano or thyme are often a good bet. I also love to add just a hint of crushed red pepper to almost anything. (If you're using fresh herbs, save for later.)

Another fun option is to add in some wine here. A cup or two of your favorite and then save the rest of the bottle for dinner.

Add in other veggies in order of hardness. So if you've got things like cabbage, peppers, zucchini, potatoes add them sooner. Save stuff like kale, spinach, or other greens for later. Cook for a while until it starts to get softer. 

4) Protein, broth and simmering. 
If you're adding a protein, now is the time. Beans, cooked lentils, etc.

Add enough broth to cover everything. This is also a great time to add something like a can of diced tomatoes or tomato paste. 

Simmer for a while to let the flavors start to mix together. (Side note: now is also a good time for grains if you're into that: small pasta, rice, bulgur, quinoa, couscous.)

5) Finishing.
If you have remaining fresh herbs, now is the time. Salt and pepper, too. When in doubt, fresh parsley is never a bad bet. 

It's also a great time to finish with other options:
- dash of vinegar (red wine vinegar or rice white vinegar are often lovely)
- dash of lemon juice
- milk is a good option (temper* it first so it won't curdle)
- plain yogurt adds nice tang, or sour cream (again, temper*)
- a can of evaporated milk makes things really creamy
- note: do NOT mix acids with dairy or things will curdle

*Tempering is when you try to bring the dairy up to a similar temperature as the soup. So put your dairy in a separate container and then ladle in some of the broth and stir until the milk mixture starts to get pretty warm. Then stir it all into the soup slowly. Make sure the soup is either on low or off by the time you do all of this. 

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