There’s nothing better than a hot soup on a cold winters night, it warms up your house, you, and fills everything with a homey smell that just can’t be replicated. The other great thing about soups is that you can tailor them to any season. There’s such a huge range of flavors available to, you can even make chilled and dessert soups that are delicious and easy. To get started you really need to be comfortable in your kitchen, as making a soup isn’t about following an exact recipe. Of course, you can follow a recipe to the letter, but you lose lots of the fun of the process. A great soup just needs a few key elements, and is so versatile even less experienced cooks can make great soup at home. Check out this recent post and start your cooking journey.
My favorite soup is a method that makes use of what you have on hand, so you’re not stuck making a last minute dash to the grocery to pick up that one special ingredient. This process lets you make soups that are different every time, and easy to throw together. The goal is to make your cooking process as effortless as possible, so you do it more and more! If you’re still learning this course on effortless gourmet cooking is a great way to get started, otherwise follow on and learn how to make your own soup, without a recipe!
Select a Type of Fat
The majority of soups all need to start with a type of fat, but choose a healthy one because why make a soup that’s going to go straight to your hips! All you’re doing with the fat is using it to sauté any vegetables or meat that needs it, so grab what you have on hand. Typically butter or olive oil are both great, and can help you extract the flavors from the initial vegetables to make your soup even more tasty. Garlic and onions are fantastic when your soup starts from a sauté, or use any other root vegetables and ingredients you have on hand that need to be fried a little to boost their taste. When choosing between butter and olive oil, select the one that best suits the intended flavor of your final soup. If you’re making an Italian style tomato soup, an olive oil would work great with the base of tomatoes. If you’re planning to make a creamy soup like a mushroom then butter is going to be a better choice. If you’re just making a simple vegetable soup, pick whichever you feel like!
Select the Base Taste for Your Soup
Open the cupboard and have a look inside. What are the options you have?
Chicken, beef, pork or fish stock all make for a great base, or so does the can of tomato puree that’s hiding in the back of the cupboard. Cream or milk can also be used to delicious result, so make sure you choose at least one or two bases that complement each other. Tomato puree is delicious with beef stock, or you can mix almost and flavor of stock with milk. You could even mix the cream with the tomato puree for an authentic Italian tomato soup. You get to choose the flavors you want in your soup.
Select a Meat
That is, if you want meat and you’re not simply making a vegetable soup. Depending on the base flavor you’ve chosen, pick a meat that will accompany the taste. Ground beef and fish stock do not go well together, but for a soup based on chicken stock ground beef is a great meat, especially if there are tomatoes in there too. You could add roast chicken, pulled pork, or whatever you desire in the soup, just be sure that it matches your base. This step is not required for vegetarian soups.
Select Your Vegetables
When it comes to soup, there are a range of “stock” vegetables that go with just about every different kind of soup you can make. Onions are a given, they add a huge range of taste and flavor to the soup and go well with almost any taste. Depending on both your preferences (and what you have in your fridge), garlic, carrots and celery are also great to add in. If you want to experiment you can try potatoes, spinach, kale, beans, corn…the list is endless. Use whatever you have in your fridge, and make it a really healthy soup you’re cooking up.
Spice and Season the Soup
Adding salt and black pepper are a given, and will help to enhance the flavor of any soup that you’re making. If you’re feeling adventurous and have a bit more selection in your spice rack, you could try one of these combinations:
- With chicken soups: Use celery seeds, marjoram, parsley, thyme and sage
- With beef soups: Use marjoram, rosemary and thyme
- With tomato-based soups: Use basil, fennel or oregano
- With chilli soups: Use plenty of chilli powder, fresh chilli or cumin
- With creamy soups: Use a dash of thyme or parsley
These are all the most common, but as you experiment and learn what works by all means dream up any combination that you like! It’s all about seasoning the soup to taste how you like it.
But what if this is all new to you? Perhaps you’ve got a hot date coming and you need some inspiration, and you’ve already watched this course and need some more guidance. Try this recipe on for size:
Silky pumpkin soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 medium pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 liter of liquid vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper (to season)
- 1 tbsp cream
- Take a large fry pan and sauté the onion, garlic and the olive oil together and cook for 3-4 minutes
- Fill a large saucepan with the vegetable stock, and bring it to a medium simmer before adding the pumpkin
- Add the onion and garlic to the large saucepan and let simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes (until the pumpkin is fork soft)
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and add in the cream and mix thoroughly
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and blend the soup in a blender until it is in a fine consistency
- Pour servings into bowls, and add a dash of cream to the center of both
- Use the handle of a teaspoon and insert into the center of the bowl of soup, and move your hand in a spiral outwards to make a lovely effect with the white cream contrasting the color of your soup
- Serve the soup with hot dinner rolls
In this recipe you can see that it would be very easy to swap out the pumpkin for a range of different vegetables. You could use cauliflower, sweet potato or tomatoes, just choose the vegetable you like the most (or that’s sitting in your fridge waiting for you to use it)! You can also add in meat if you want additional protein in your soup, which could be cooked along with the onions and garlic in the sauté stage, or added to the saucepan while its simmering if it’s already cooked (like torn off pieces of roast chicken). Don’t forget to save a couple of pieces of chicken for a garnish of the dish at the end. Yum. If you’re looking for more recipe ideas, there’s a great soup in this course, as well as many other things to try as you learn to experiment a bit more in your kitchen.
Why not try adding in that last handful of pasta that’s sitting in the bag which really isn’t enough for a whole meal, or the last vestiges of the smoked turkey or ground beef that’s sitting in the refrigerator. Bacon works fantastically with chicken and mushroom soups, and can be added in at the start of the process for the best flavor. Thin soups can be thickened up by adding half a cup of rice and letting it simmer, and you can even leave the chunks of vegetables whole – you really don’t need to blend them. All you really need to remember is that it’s super easy to make a healthy and delicious soup with only a couple of pounds of leftover vegetables, and have it taste great.
Soup is the easiest way you’ll find to warm up both your kitchen on a cold winters day, while making an entire meal that can feed both you and your family. It’s also a great vegetarian option for families that choose not to eat meat, because you don’t need to add meat to make a soup taste delicious. If you need a bit more inspiration about healthy ways to cook vegetarian, check out this course and give your family a treat! Get cooking and enjoy your next soup, that you’ve made specially.