Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Soup Obsession
I realized last night that I've made soup at least once a week for the past two months. It started as a simple curiosity with the immersion blender, and soon became a full-blown obsession (coinciding with warmer weather, oddly enough). Some of the reasons I love making soup are:
1) Once you get the hang of it, there are endless possibilities. See below for a basic recipe, but definitely start experimenting. Last night I made a carrot-ginger-sweet potato soup that was delicious, and I've gone everywhere from the basic chicken and veggies to leek-asparagus to heavenly butternut squash and apple.
2) It is so affordable! For example, last night I made a soup that cost under $10 ($8.23 to be exact) and it fed a dinner for 3 plus leftovers for my lunch today. What can beat that?
3) The leftovers are a major plus for soup, and probably one of the main reasons I've continued to make it. I bring my lunch to work every day, and having soup on hand makes that so much easier. I'll bring a small tupperware of soup with an apple or some bread and voila! Lunch in 1 minute. I tend to make a ton of soup so that it will last the whole week, not just for lunches, but for dinner side dishes and small snacks too. You can't go wrong with fresh soup.
4) It is good for you! Soup from a (eek!) can or even "fresh" from a grocery store is often loaded with salt and butter. I tend to use a little bit of butter and olive oil, but otherwise let the ingredients speak for themselves. Really, its just water and fresh veggies with some spices (and maybe a dollop of milk..).
5) It's easy. It really is. I promise, just start making it and you'll never stop.
OK so here are the basic steps to making a delicious soup:
- veggies (a pound or two - and you can mix and match. Let's go with potatoes for the basic).
- onion (again, you can mix this up by using leeks, shallots, scallions, or a mix).
- water (or chicken stock or vegetable stock. I prefer to make my own stock, but if you get store-bought, make sure to get low-sodium/unsalted)
- olive oil/butter (just oil is fine, but if it's a creamy soup I'll throw in a tablespoon of butter)
- salt, pepper, and any other spices you have in your cabinet.
To make the soup (For this example, let's do Potato-leek):
1. Dice one onion and one or two leeks (depending on how much you get--be sure to wash thoroughly!). Peel and cut up the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
2. Heat up a large pot at medium heat, then add about a table spoon of oil. Maybe some butter if you want.
3. When the oil is hot, add the onion and leek. Add a little bit of salt to help them sweat. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
4. Add the potatoes and stir around a bit. Maybe throw in some pepper if you feel like it.
5. Add the stock (I'd use stock for potato soup to add flavor), enough to cover the potatoes and then some. If you don't have enough, add water to compensate.
6. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or more, until the potatoes are soft and cooked through.
7. Use immersion blender (or in batches in the regular blender) to make the soup smooth. Maybe since it's potato I'd leave some chunks.
8. Taste the soup. Add salt and pepper and taste again. Add spices, perhaps cumin or herbs de provence. Taste again. When it tastes really good, serve.
9. Cut up some chives for presentation and place on top. Serve with crusty bread.
So, for variations, you can use butternut squash and apples instead of the potato, or carrots or sweet potato or asparagus or anything really. Switch up your spices. Add ginger or garlic (about halfway through the onion sauteeing phase). Add chicken at the end (haven't tried to blend that, but chunky chicken and veggie soup is delicious). Don't blend it. Add cream. Add lemon zest. Do anything you want! It's lots of fun, I promise.