This time of year in the northeast our thoughts turn to comfort foods that warm and soothe us. Since soup is a hot liquid that is satisfying and filling, it can easily top a list of favorite comfort foods. Here are some great reasons to prepare and enjoy soup as a part of your regular meals and snacks.
(1) Soup is economical
- uses up leftovers; add in everything but the kitchen sink!
- make it water-based; skip expensive broths (use the water leftover from steaming veggies).
- make enough for more than one meal or snack; it tastes even better the next day!
(2) Soup is healthy
- soup is liquid based, the water has no calories and it fills you up.
- for cream-based soups, use low-fat or fat free milk instead.
- it is widely believed that chicken soup has healing powers.
(3) Soup is easy to make
- all you need is a big pot, water and your choice of ingredients.
- it is easy to substitute ingredients in soup recipes: the starch can be beans, pasta, rice, noodles, potato, or sweet potato; use your favorite meats, fish or poultry and any veggies!
- bay leaf is a great spice to add when making soup (remember to remove the leaves before eating).
The real secret to making a delicious soup is how the liquid or broth is prepared. The best tasting soups start with a homemade stock. For poultry, fish or meat-based soups this means simmering the carcass (chicken or turkey), shells (for shellfish) or bones (for beef, pork or fish) in water with herbs and spices to create the stock. For example, if you have had a meal with a roasted chicken, save the carcass and place in a large pot of water to simmer for several hours. (You can even freeze the carcass, shells or bones to use later to prepare the soup.) Then remove any leftover meat to use in the soup, strain out the liquid to use as the stock and then add other vegetables and starches to create your final soup. For a vegetable-based stock, first saute some herbs and spices in a tablespoon of olive oil, such as pepper, bay leaves, parsley, etc. Many cooks will saute a mixture of chopped onions, carrots and celery and use that to flavor a stock. Remember to keep it simple and use what you have on hand.
To help you get started, be sure to check out the variety of delicious soup recipes that earn Guiding Stars. Be well and stay healthy and warm!