Bring on the Soup!

January 19, 2009 Updated: January 19, 2009

Soup is a warm, satisfying meal on a cold winter night. Making a pot of soup is a perfect way to give your family a healthy, hot meal.

There are dozens of different soups you can make, so if you only make chicken soup, break from that pattern and try something different. There are so many different kinds of soups to make, but basically you can either a stock-broth based or creamy soup.

Making a good stock will enrich your soup greatly, and while commercial produced substitutes are often used due to our busy daily lives, there is no real replacement of a full-flavored stock.

Soup stock usually contains staple foods like onions, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, and even cloves. Add those key items with beef bones, chicken carcass or fish skeletons. Brown stocks are made by browning the bones in a roasting pan in a broiler until they are ready to put in a stockpot.

Stock should simmer … just a bit of a bubble on the surface, during the first 30 minutes of cooking, while skimming off the scum in the process. Keep your stockpot partially covered so not to lose flavor.

It is necessary to strain your stock of bones and fat, leaving you just with the liquid broth. The easiest way to remove fat is chilling your stock in the refrigerator and spooning off the fat congeals on the surface.

Don’t shy away from making your own stock because you think it is too difficult. While it may take time to cook, the process itself is easy. Keeping your own stock on hand will make quite an impact on the flavor of your soups.

Perfect Beef Stock

3 Tbsp. cooking oil
5 pounds beef shank or 3 pounds beef bone with 1 pound stew meat
4 carrots, cut in thick slices
3 onions, quartered2 tsp. dried thyme4 celery, cut in half
Bay leaf
1/4 cup dried parsley
Ground pepper and sea salt to taste

Put vegetables and meat in a roasting pan and top with oil making sure they are covered in oil a preheated 450 F degree oven. Brown ingredients for about 10 minutes, but keep and eye so that they don’t scorch.
After ingredients are browned, transfer to stockpot, pouring off fat from roasting pan.
Add spices and 4-5 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 hours keeping pot partially covered.
Skim off scum that rises to the surface. Strain and cool.

Minestrone Soup

2 pounds of chuck beef cubed
1 large can whole tomatoes pureed or diced
10 cups of beef stock 1/4 cup olive oil3 garlic cloves
Bay leaf1 tsp. oregano or 2 Tbsp fresh oregano
1 red pepper chopped
1 onion, diced4 carrots
4 stalks celery chopped
2 zucchini diced
1/4 cup dried parsley or 3/4 cup fresh
1 can black beans or 1/2 cup presoaked beans
3 Tbsp. tomato paste1 cup dry pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese grated for garnish

Sauté’ onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in oil for 10 minutes.
Add parsley and oregano and cook an additional 5 minutes.
Add stock and remaining ingredients and simmer for 40-50 minutes until vegetables and meat are tender.

This makes a nice big pot of soup. Serve with crusty bread.

Note: Add more broth or water to replace liquid lost while cooking, especially if you are cooking with dry beans as they absorb a lot of water.

Creamy Bacon and Cheese Potato Soup

5 medium to large potatoes peeled and cubed
3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
5 slices bacon
2 cup chicken broth or water
5 cup milk

2 cup cream

2 Tbsp. flour

4 Tbsp butter

Sea salt and ground pepper

1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated

1/4 pound Fontina cheese, grated

Cook bacon until crisp, crumble and set aside.
Sauté’ onion and celery in butter for 5 minutes.
Cook potatoes in chick broth or water until tender.
Reserve 1/2 cup milk and add remaining milk and cream to cooked potatoes.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Mash cooked potatoes with a fork.
Add flour to remaining milk and gradually stir into milk using a whisk.

Add cheese stirring until melted. Top with bacon bits.

Serves 6

Butternut Squash Soup

1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound butternut squash, pared, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 each pears, pared and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh-snipped thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon coriander, Ground
1 cup whipping cream
Garnish: 1 pear: pared and sliced
1/2 cup pecans, toasted or chopped

Cook and stir onion in margarine in 4-quart Dutch oven until tender.
Stir in broth, squash, 2 sliced pears, thyme, salt, white pepper, and coriander.
Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Pour about half of the soup into food processor work bowl fitted with steel blade or into blender container; cover and process until smooth. Repeat with remaining soup.
Return to Dutch oven; stir in whipping cream. Heat, stirring frequently, until hot.
Serve with sliced pear and pecans.

Serves 6

Source: Public domain recipes converted from Meal Master format.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

By Jennifer Wickes

1 Tbsp. butter
2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 cup peeled, cubed fresh pumpkin
1 cup peeled, chopped McIntosh apple
1 qt. vegetable stock
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. apple brandy
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk

1. Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic, and sauté 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin, apple, stock and salt. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.

2. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until pumpkin is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

3. Puree with a hand blender or food processor until smooth. Return mixture to the stockpot; add milk. Cook until thoroughly heated. Add the apple brandy and spices. Mix thoroughly.

4. Serve with croutons and a glass of Chardonnay.

Hint: Our pumpkin soup is topped with a gentle swirl made of sage oil. Here's how to do it: Just blend ½ cup olive oil and ½ cup fresh sage. Put oil mixture in a clean squirt bottle and draw a swirl.

Serves 6 

Jennifer Wickes is the editor at Cookbook Reviews and Cooking With The Seasons, which has been voted to be one of the Top 100 Culinary Sites on the Internet!