This time of year is perfect for soups, stews and chilis. Here are a few tips I have learned to make whatever is simmering in your pot delicious.
Use homemade stock. This is probably the one thing that makes soups excellent. It is super simple, frugal and tasty. Chicken stock goes well in all soups and stews and is probably the easiest to make since most people don’t buy beef with bones in it. I like to roast a chicken in the crock pot and then when I have taken off all of the meat I will cover the carcass with water, add a couple of splashes of apple cider vinegar to draw out the nutrients and then put it on low and let it simmer for about 12-18 hours. You can add onions, celery or carrots if you’d like as well. Simply strain the bones and vegetables into a collander or sieve and store your stock in the freezer or refrigerator for up to a week. This can make plenty of stock and you can even boil it down into a concentrated stock so that it takes up less space in your freezer. If you have stock, you have the basis for many quick dinners.
Add acidity. I find that lemon juice, lime juice or apple cider vinegar are best for anything containing chicken or a lighter flavored legume. Red wine vinegar works well in chilis and beef soups, especially when tomatoes are involved.
Take into account your vegetables’ cooking times. Things like onions and celery are great to put into a soup pot at the beginning of the cooking time, but vegetables like broccoli and green beans are best when not overcooked, so throw them in during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
Let your soups cool, just slightly. Most brothy and bean-based soups taste best when not taken just off of the stove. In fact if a soup is too hot you can’t really taste all of the nuances of flavor you have worked so hard to put into it. Let it cool for maybe 5 minutes or so before serving.
Add the cream last. If your soup requires milk or cream add it at the very end and don’t let it boil. It can curdle if it is heated too high and will not be tasty. If you are freezing your soup freeze it without the cream or add it and use a very low flame when reheating.
Add contrasting flavors and textures. If you are serving a creamy pureed soup such as butternut squash, garnish it with a bit of crunchy apple or croûtons or even toasted pumpkin seeds. The texture difference will bring out the creaminess of the soup. Also, if you are serving a long simmered soup or stew add a bit of freshness at the end in the form of an herb. Think parsley or thyme in chicken soups, cilantro in Mexican soups and fresh basil in anything Italian or tomato-based.
Do you have any great tips for making soups?
For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes.