There is nothing better on a chilly fall night than a steamy bowl of soup. There are lots of recipes and here are a few tips that can make them more interesting.
Stock is made from cooking water with bones and broth adds vegetables to the mix. Strain, cool, and freeze for future use. If you opt for stock in a box from your local grocery, go for the low sodium versions. Then you can control the amount of salt in the final dish.
Speaking of salt, it does matter when you add it. Salting the vegetables before adding them to your soup will give the seasoning more time to penetrate and enhance natural flavors. Taste the soup about 20 or 30 minutes prior to serving to decide if you need to add more.
Toasting dry spices before adding them to the recipe will intensify their flavor. Just put them in a dry skillet on medium heat. Monitor them carefully because burnt spices will not be pleasant. It should only take a couple of minutes. Let them cool and grind, chop or use whole.
The recipe below says to include white bread. This is a thickening agent. If any soup seems to thin for your taste, adding bread is not the only option. Add leftover mashed potatoes, or create a slurry of a tablespoon of cornstarch with water to make it more substantial. Be sure to whisk the addition into the simmering soup.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with minced herbs, croutons, or dairy, like yogurt or sour cream. Use full-fat dairy to avoid separation and curdling.
Cooking more than you need for a single meal is always an advantage. It will keep in the refrigerator for about three days or three months in the freezer. Package into individual servings or one large package, depending on your needs. Keep grain-based (noodles, rice, barley, etc.) ingredients separate since they will absorb much of the liquid as the soup rests.
Butternut Squash Soup
1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tart green apples peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion chopped
¼ tsp chopped rosemary (dried or fresh)
¼ tsp marjoram
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 slices of white bread chopped (brioche, baguette, ciabatta, French, Italian, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 45 minutes. Cool.
Puree in a blender in small batches.
Garnish with heavy cream and/or parsley or add sautéed fresh sage.