We have talked about stocks, and recently, roux. Two key components needed to make sauce and soups. Making a great soup is one of those great feelings, when you really accomplish something well. A great soup can help you feel better, can warm you up, and it can really make your day.
There are essentially two types of soup, they would be broth based, and cream based. In this article we will cover broth based soups, and then we will cover cream soups in a later article. Once you get the feel for a basic broth, or a basic cream soup, it is really just a matter of tweaking the recipe to include what you want.
There are still a few types of clear soups. Lets start with the most basic, but one of the hardest to make, consommé. Consommé is essentially a clear broth, it is very flavorful, lightly garnished, and free of any materials through the use of a raft. You make a raft by whisking in egg whites, which attract the bits that may be floating, and then, we also make sure to remove any fat, leaving just the clear broth.
Next, we would consider to be a clear soup that has other things added into it at various points in the cooking process. This could be like a French Onion or something similar to that. Basically a broth that includes other food stuffs that is not a starch.
Last I would classify as starch added soups. This can be your chicken noodle, or Matzo ball soup or dumplings. The reason we break this one out separate is that while we may add the veg and meats early to bring out the flavor, we have to be careful when we add a starch to a soup because it can either over cook, or worse, disintegrate, which can easily happen with Matzo balls.
Soup can keep for up to 90 days in the freezer, so it is a great thing to make in large batches. Just be sure to thaw it before you reheat. A great practice is to store in small, single serve containers, you will only use what you need.
When you reheat a clear soup, you want to be mindful of how thick it is. If it is just clear, then simply bring it to a boil, check your seasonings, and serve. If it includes other bits, especially starches, heat it slowly, don’t stir too much, and season adjustments.
When you make a soup you want your stock to be as free from fat as possible, so it doesn’t look like an oil slick on the top. The best way I have found is to make your stock, then place in the fridge. All the fat will pool on the top and solidify, which you can just peel off an be ready to go.
If you are making a stock, then turning it right into soup, I suggest skimming with a ladle throughout the cooking process, strain the stock, then begin making your soup. It also helps if you use meats that are not fatty for the actual soup it self.
A lot of the veg and meat you add to the soup is all garnish for the rich stock you have made. One thing to keep in mind is to always cut your garnish to the same size, and make sure to add them in the order of longest cooking to shortest. I would add my carrots long before fresh herbs or peas, for example.
On the subject of meats or chicken, I prefer to cook the meats when I am making the stock, remove it, cut it down, then add it back in. I don’t like to add raw products, with the exception of some quick cooking seafood, into my soups.
Make sure to watch when you season your soup. It is going to be cooking for a time, all the while, it will be reducing in volume, but the salt will not. This has the potential to turn something to over seasoned very easily. If you are making a soup to freeze, put in minimal seasoning, but which I mean salt and pepper only, and season when you reheat.
Soup is a great place to start your cooking endeavors. Even if you have made soups for years, there is always room to make something new and different. There is always a flavor, seasoning, or something you can make that will take it to the next level.
Keep an eye out, for our next installment and get the low down on cream soups next!
Keep on simmering!