Ok, Seinfeld references aside, we are actually going to walk through the other category of soups today, and these are the more cream based, and I am going to lump purees in here too because aside from the addition of dairy, it is essentially the same technique.
Like I said, there are basically two types of soups in this one. They all start out life the same way, but what you do at the end can determine if it is vegetarian, chunky, creamy, or rich.
Cream of Something Soup
The cream of something soup is generally a smooth puree. At the end of the cooking process we will puree the soup and add in the dairy component. Generally made with vegetables, but one could add in chunks of proteins, although I would not necessarily puree them. ick!
These soups would essentially be a broth based soup, with varying amounts of cream, that is thickened, but not pureed. A great example is New England Clam Chowder. It is essentially a clam broth based soup, but it has equaly amounts of cream and is thickened by adding roux or pureed potatoes
A Bisque is similar to a chowder, but it is made from crustacean and usually the meat is pureed as well in the process of cooking. These also tend to be a very rich soup with not too much cream, and is very simple in flavor profile. Commonly served with a side of Sherry, although that went out with bell bottoms, you can find it in more classic restaurants. The name is starting to make its way around to other soups now, like Tomato Bisque for example.
A puree soup is basically like a cream of something soup that we do not add cream to. The soup is thickened mostly by the pureed vegetables. A great example would be classic tomato soup. One could make Asparagus soup this way as well, but its hard to keep it from becoming baby food.
THE BASIC PREPARATION
Once you learn how to make a cream soup, you have learned to make them all. These tend to be my favorite and you can have a lot of fun mixing flavors. One of my favorite ones I did was a Butternut Squash soup with Orange and Ginger. It was amazing. For this use a heavy bottomed-pot. A thin one like we used for stocks is begging for burned soup.
Start by chopping your veg sweating them in a bit of olive oil, then adding the stock the stock to cook for an hour on a low simmer. some veg might be best treated to a roast in the oven first, like the squash I mentioned above. Add in your seasonings, but be careful because things like peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves for example, do not puree well, so should be easy to remove, so put them in a cheesecloth bag called a sachet.
Next we want to add the creamy component to the soup, I usually use half and half for this part, and I don’t add all of it in, only about half. Its too hard to gauge how thick the soup will be, and this will allow us to thin it with the cream if need be at the end. You skip this step in the puree soups.
Once that has cooked for another hour or so on a slow simmer, I will then puree the mixture using the immersion blender we reviewed not too long ago. This can take some time to get every bit blended. If you have to use a blender, only fill it half way, and do NOT put the lid on tight, it will shoot off the top! Also start slow and build speed up, then set aside and repeat.
At the end I adjust thickness with cream, or add in slurry (flour and water) until it is good. If I add a slurry, I always cook for a bit to make sure the flour cooks out. Adjust seasonings and it is good to go! Strain through a wide strainer if you want, and with some types of veg, it is a wise idea, like asparagus.
You don’t have great results from freezing cream soups, it has to do with the cream and fat that wants to separate in the freezing process, which turns it nasty when it thaws. Puree soups however, freeze great. This also means you can make a puree soup, freeze it, thaw it, then just add some cream at reheating and you are good to go. A nice little work around if you have a ton of Broccoli or tomatoes from a garden.
One note is to use low heat and keep the ingredients moving. This soup wants to settle and even separate, so you can’t just turn it on and walk away. Check seasoning before serving.
I hope that gives you a rough idea, and when we do a recipe this week we will go more into a creaming method or two for examples.