Tips to help you cook super healthy, super tasty and satisfying soups.
Following are a few tips to give you the best pot of soup you ever made!
Flavor the Soup
To fully capture the flavor of the vegetables in your soups, do as little to them as possible. Rather, rely on the extraordinary flavor of the products at hand. You want the taste of the vegetable to come through. To do this, cook the vegetable lightly in its own juice by juicing enough of the vegetable to substitute for stock. You could also make a stock from the vegetable trimmings. You want to concentrate the flavors and use just enough herbs to enhance the vegetables.
To help your vegetables reach their full flavor potential, saute or roast them before you add them to your soup pot. This will caramelize the naturally occurring sugars in the vegetables, giving them a much richer, deeper flavor. Over a medium-high burner, heat a skillet that's big enough to contain your chopped vegetables in a single layer (they will steam instead of caramelize if they're stacked on top of each other), pour in a small amount of oil, and add your vegetables. Stir or toss them often enough to keep them from burning, but be patient.
Really good browning can take some time. Another way to add flavor to your vegetables is by pan-roasting them in a hot (450-degree) oven. Toss them very lightly in oil, place them on a sturdy baking sheet in a single layer, and do not cover them. Stir occasionally, and remove when golden-brown.
Variety in Your Soup
One of the greatest things about soup is its versatility. You could eat soup every day of the year and never have the same kind twice. Use your imagination, try using your favorite vegetables in different pairs, etc. Examples: American regional favorites like gumbo, chowder, cioppino, burgoo, frogmore stew, and good ol' chili. And that's just for starters!
Garnish for Your Soup
Not only does a little garnish make your soup look nice, but it will add a whole new and contrasting flavor, texture or temperature.
- Try a sprinkling of freshly minced herbs or finely grated flavorful cheese.
- To cool down a spicy soup or just add a touch of creaminess, stir lime juice, or a little grated ginger, or some finely chopped orange zest, or perhaps a dash of curry powder into some sour cream or plain yogurt.
- A spoonful of salsa, or a few chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, scallions, or cucumbers add a cool, fresh taste to your soup.
- Finally, add crunch with a topping of croutons, tortilla chips or crackers.
Following are some starter recipes for you.
Chicken Noodle Soup Express Recipe
2 cans of fat free chicken broth (14-1/2 ounces)
Generous dash pepper
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup uncooked medium egg noodles (preferably "No-Yolks")
1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
Mix the broth, pepper, carrot and celery in a saucepan. Heat to a boil. Stir in the noodles and the chicken. Cook over medium heat ten minutes or until the noodles are done. Recipe serves two to four.
Nutritional information per one-fourth of recipe: Calories: 86; Total Fat: 2g; Carbohydrate: 7g; Protein: 9mg
Black Bean Soup Recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
1 rib sliced celery
1 medium chopped carrot
1 seeded and chopped fresh jalapeno pepper
2 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups water
2 cans (15 ounces) rinsed and drained black beans
1 can of (14-1/2 ounces) 99 percent fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves
Lime wedges and light sour cream for garnish
In a large pot, heat oil over medium until hot. Add onion, celery, carrot and jalapeno pepper and cook ten minutes or until vegetables soften; stir occasionally. Add garlic and cumin and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add water, beans and broth. Heat to boiling over medium-high. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Remove from heat. If desired, use immersion blender to puree mixture until almost smooth. Stir in lime -juice and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and sour cream.
French Onion Soup Recipe
1/8 cup olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cans (10.5 ounces each) beef broth (bouillon)
3/4 cup Coca-Cola
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Thick French bread slices
Grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in heavy saucepan; add onions and cook until golden; do not brown. Add undiluted beef broth, one soup can of water, Coca-Cola, salt, vinegar, and pepper. Cover; simmer 20-25 minutes. In a broiler, toast one side of the French bread slices. Turn, generously sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and toast until browned. Ladle soup into deep bowls and top with toast, cheese side up. Recipe makes about 6 cups or four servings.
Note: Note: To reduce foam for accurate measurement, use Coca-Cola room temperature and stir rapidly.
Roasted Tomato Soup
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, halved
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably home made
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 fresh sage leaves
Preheat oven to 450-degrees. Toss tomatoes with garlic, thyme and olive oil. Spread tomatoes evenly on baking sheet and roast them 20 minutes. Let tomatoes cool, then remove thyme sprigs and slip skins off tomatoes. Puree tomatoes, garlic and stock in food processor until smooth. Transfer puree to soup pot and simmer over medium-low heat until it heats through. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve hot, with sage leaves torn over the top. Recipe makes four servings.
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