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The Basics of Making Soup

Written By Hicham Chaouchi on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 | September 12, 2018

The Basics of Making Soup
The Basics of Making Soup
There are a few issues to consider in soup making:
Preparing foods for soup: Cutting vegetables or other ingredients to about the same size allows them to
all cook at pretty much the same rate; you don’t want  your carrots tender while your potatoes are still hard.
And using small pieces allows you to eat soup elegantly, without cutting in the bowl or cramming too-large pieces of food into your mouth.
Using leftovers in soup: One of my first cooking teachers made cream-of-something-or-other almost
every night with leftover vegetables. She rinsed the left

Why Not Use Water?

Stock is flavoring for soups and sauces that you can make in advance. But it is not the only way of flavoring
them. All stocks are basically a combination of water and solids. So it stands to reason that you can begin any soup with water instead of stock, as long as you add sufficient vegetables and other flavorings—wine, extra vegetables, soy sauce, or herbs, for example—and cook the mixture long enough for a flavorful liquid to develop.
overs with boiling water, combined the vegetables with stock and seasonings, puréed, and reheated, sometimes with cream, sometimes with milk or yogurt, sometimes with nothing. Almost any leftover whose flavor does not conflict with the basic seasonings of your soup is fair game: pasta, rice, bread, meat, fish, poultry, vegetables— even mashed potatoes, which can blend in nicely
Heating stock for use in soup: Most soups begin by cooking some meat or vegetables, then adding stock or water. If you heat the stock or water while you prepare the solid ingredients, you will cut your cooking time by as much as ten or fifteen minutes.
Puréeing soup: Upright and immersion blenders can purée almost any soup in an instant. (A hand-cranked
food mill is not a ton of work, but it’s not nearly as fast.) If the purée is too thick, stir in some water or half-andhalf, which will add flavor, enhance texture, and thin the soup all at the same time. If your purée is too thin, see“Giving Soups More Body” (page 132).
 
Incidentally, guilt factor aside, heavy cream is a sensational thickener, adding wonderful flavor and silken texture. And you don’t need much—1/2 cup or even less is  usually enough for 6 cups of soup.  
Adding pasta or rice to soup: Rice or pasta add body, flavor, and variety to soups, but they’re best cooked in separate water, because they absorb so much water and give off so much starch that cooking them directly in the soup changes the character entirely. (There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but you should be aware of it.)
Storing soup: Many soups can be made in advance, or at least partly so (I’ve noted the best time to interrupt cooking when there is one), and freeze brilliantly for a month or more, so there’s rarely a reason not to double or even quadruple a given recipe to reserve some for another time. Generally, it’s best not to freeze or even refrigerate a soup once you’ve added starches like rice and pasta. Since they continue to absorb water even during storage, they break down, becoming soft and thickening the soup unnecessarily (of course if you like these qualities, go right ahead). Nor should you freeze soups made with dairy, which are likely to curdle when reheated.

USING AN IMMERSION BLENDER


An immersion blender lets you purée soup right in the pot. Remove the pot from the heat. Hold the blender upright and make sure the blade is immersed to prevent splattering.

E S S E N T I A L R E C I P E S

These are not necessarily the “easiest” soups in this chapter (though few of my soup recipes are what you’d call difficult), but rather the most basic, like “Boiled Water” and Puréed Vegetable Soup Without Cream, or those that have become emblematic, like Chicken Soup, Many Ways.

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