Monday, April 1, 2013

This Dusty Kitchen: How To Make Soup, From Scratch, Without A Recipe

I fell in love with cooking when I started making soup. It was then that I discovered the vast realm of possibilities that cooking held, then that I realized I could do anything with good ingredients and a little technical know-how.

I often make soup on Sunday afternoons. It's become a leisure activity of sorts, a way in which I celebrate the Sabbath, making myself quietly well acquainted with my kitchen, my knives, cutting boards, pots, and the vegetables left in my fridge after the week. I rarely use a recipe, instead taking stock of what I have, what needs to be used up, and going from there. 

Making soup without a recipe is easy. 

Start with oil, onions, and garlic.

This step is common to pretty much every one of my soups. It's a good way to start, to break the cooking cobwebs off my fingers if I haven't done much of note in the kitchen all week. Saute the onions and garlic together until the onions are nice and translucent.


Add meat.

Or don't. You could add beans instead. Or no protein-like thing at all. I added ham leftover from our Good Friday ham, graciously supplied by my parents.


Add veggies.

I went with broccoli. One head.


Add your favourite herbs and let it all cook together for a bit.

(Add more oil if necessary.)

I added basil and parsley. You could add anything though. Curry, perhaps. Rosemary. A bay leaf.


Decide what kind of soup you want.

Brothy or pureed? Just add water or broth.
Creamy? Add flour. Or corn starch to keep it gluten free.

I added flour (5 tbsp or so), cooked it for a couple minutes (stirring constantly!) then slowly added 6 cups of water, stirring constantly to make sure none of the flour clumped up.

Add bouillon.

I went with a vegetable bouillon. If you use broth in the step above, obviously you can skip this bit. But, bouillon and I get along well.


Simmer.

This is the step that leaves plenty of time for cleaning your now messy kitchen. If you want.


Add cream.

That is, if you're making a creamy soup or a creamy pureed soup, the very last step is to add cream. Remove it from the heat first - cream doesn't necessarily like being cooked.


Serve!


Oh, it was so tasty. A creamy broccoli soup with chunks of ham? You can't go wrong. You can make any soup though. Don't tell me you don't know how to cook, or that when you do you must follow a recipe exactly. Switch out the ham for beans, the broccoli for carrot, the creamy soup for a brothy soup, add a handful or two of pasta when you're letting it simmer, and, voila, you have a whole new creation.

Do you have any favourite soup making techniques?

5 comments:

  1. I like making a lot of my meaty soups with oxtail. I bring a huge pot to a boil, add the oxtails and let them simmer for several hours until the meat starts falling off the bones. I discard the bones, chop up the meat and put it back in the pot, add a couple beef bouillon cubes and then you have a basic stock for any kind of beef soup you want :). The oxtail also has a really distinct flavour that other meats do not have,

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  2. Oxtail! I will have to try that! Where do you find it? Can you get it at the grocery store or does it require a trip to the butcher shop?

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  3. This soup sounds AMAZING. Too bad Mike doesn't like ham or cream. But...I might make a batch and freeze it in individual portions for lunches!

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  4. It was! You could leave out the ham (broccoli soup!) and if it's really just the cream he objects to and not the creaminess, just skip the cream. It won't be as creamy, but it still will be a little bit creamy because of the flour.

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  5. What a great looking soup! I love soups that re-purpose leftovers.

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