homemade soup= campbell’s + can opener?

Waking up to frost on my unraked yard I have to now admit that winter is coming. Much to my chagrin this does not mean the new season of Game of Thrones is starting up anytime soon but rather that winter is actually coming. It does mean however that soup season is upon us. Warm and comforting it’s the perfect dinner paired with a simple salad and a hunk of crusty bread. I’ve asked my friend and the Chef de Cuisine of our Dining Services division Jamie Bisioulis for some direction on homemade soup because contrary to what Campbell’s might tell you, good soup doesn’t come in a can.

Alright, it’s time we get back to basics here. Once you make your own from scratch, you will never go back. Make more than you need and freeze the rest! Follow these souper douper cooking tips and never buy canned soup again…

1. Start with a great liquid. Soups are mostly water, but it’s often disguised as broth or stock, wine or milk. Whatever the liquid in you soup is, use one that you would want to drink. It’s best to use homemade stock, but many delis and butchers sell freshly made frozen stock. If you are going with a grocery store broth, buy one that’s in a box, not a can… they are usually tastier. When adding wine to soups, be sure to bring it to a boil and let it cook for at least 10 minutes, to avoid the “did I just do a shot?” flavor. For cream or milk based soups, use fresh dairy products. This is not your excuse to use expired milk.

2. Sweat the aromatics. Aromatics include onions, leeks, garlic, celery and carrots. Cooking them over low to medium heat in the pan before adding any liquid will help soften their texture and blend their flavors. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not browning, about 5 minutes. The goal is to break down their cellulose (making them easier to eat or puree later) and get them to give off some of their liquid, which will deepen the flavor of the soup.

3. Use the right tools. Technically all you need is a heat-proof vessel and heat, but if you want to make soups that shine, a large and heavy pot, an immersion blender and an ample soup ladle should do it.

4. Salt in layers. Canned and prepared soups are known to be high in sodium. There’s a reason: all that water takes a lot of salt to flavor! Salt soups as chefs do—add some salt to the aromatics and other vegetables as you cook them. If you’re cooking meat separately, make sure it is well seasoned before it goes into the pot. And, most importantly, taste it before serving and add salt until you taste a hike-up in flavor, then stop.

5. Hit it with freshness. You’ve used great ingredients. You’ve cooked and salted them properly. How to make the most of it before it hits the table? Add a bit of something fresh right at the end. Fresh herbs, fresh citrus juice, a dollop or two of cream or yogurt. A hit of something uncooked and un-simmered will highlight the deep, delicious, melded flavors in the rest of the soup.

6. Garnish like a pro. Go beyond chopped parsley and freshly ground pepper. The best soup garnishes offer a contrasting flavor or texture to both compliment and highlight the soup. Crunchy on smooth (small croutons or fried onions, on silky soups), Smooth on chunky (sour cream on borscht), Bitter on savory (herbs on lentil soup) and salty on sweet (prosciutto on sweet potato bisque).

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Posted on November 16th, 2015 at 6:40 am [ssba]