Nothing warms you on a cold winter evening (or morning or afternoon, either) like a steaming bowl of soup. And it couldn’t be easier to make!
Starting from scratch
• The first thing you need to do is create a flavor base. Most recipes start with a base of sautéed onions, carrots and celery, though sometimes alliums are all that are needed.
• Dice the vegetables small to get the most flavor out of them, then sauté right in your soup pot. Cook over medium heat, just until they begin to soften. Add water (cold, if you need a clear broth) and bring to a boil. This is also the time to add meat, bones or dried beans.
• Decrease heat to a simmer and cover pot. Broth alone needs only 30 – 60 minutes to cook, just enough time to pull all the flavors out of the base ingredients. Broth with beans or meat will cook 2-3 hours, until protein is tender. Add any herbs, vegetables or starch at this point.
• If you don’t have time or the desire to make your own broth, use canned, boxed or frozen. To make a quick and easy soup, utilize leftovers or whatever you can find in your refrigerator or freezer to make a one-of-a-kind creation.
Round it out
Some soups are a meal in themselves, but a lighter soup might call for an accompaniment.
Crusty bread and cheese or spread
• Biscuits – plain with butter, or slit almost all the way through and filled with a square of cheese or ham
• Cornbread (great with bean soup)
• Grilled cheese sandwich (classic with tomato soup)
• Salad – as a separate course or along side
• French fries or onion rings
• Any small-bite or appetizer bit
Onion-cheese biscuit bread
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1/4 cup green onion
3/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
poppy seeds (optional)
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8×8” square baking pan.
• Combine dry ingredients, onions and cheese. Add buttermilk and melted butter; stir to combine. Knead gently a few times until dough comes together. It will be stiff and somewhat dry.
• Pat into prepared pan, the top need not be smooth. If desired, brush the surface with a little milk and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
• Bake 20-22 minutes until top is brown. Let cool at 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Makes 16 servings
Dress it up
Enhance a creamy soup with an unusual garnish for a nice presentation. Choose an item that will contrast with the flavor or texture of the soup:
• Drizzle of cream or half an half
• Dollop of sour cream or yogurt
• Broken pretzels
• Chopped or slivered nuts
• Finely chopped herbs
• Fresh or defrosted peas or chopped spinach
• Shredded or diced cheese
Keep soup hot before serving, and cool quickly for storage. If you have a large amount, transfer first to multiple shallow containers.
A quick way to cool broth is to use 1-2 quarts less in the cooking, then add 1-2 quarts ice to the strained broth. Soup may be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or, for best quality, up to 6 months in the freezer.