Are you like me and when it’s raining you want to cozy up with a comforting bowl of soup? It’s raining here today and it’s got me thinking soup!
You can create a soup from whatever you have; without a recipe. This information is valuable in any season, so keep it bookmarked for when you need it.
Soup without a recipe is simply a formula
In the simplest terms, soup is a moist cooking method – and is just a bunch of “stuff” simmered in liquid. You’re allowing the flavors to steep and release their flavor which results in a delicious soup. Usually, the longer they “steep” or simmer, the better the flavor will be. Base of Flavor + Substance + Liquid and (Simmer for as long as you got) is your basic formula. I go into detail below, but click the image below for a printable version.
Base of Flavor
AROMATICS – This is kind of what it sounds like. It’s any vegetables or herbs that add aroma and flavor. It could be onion, shallot, garlic, chiles, lemongrass, ginger, etc. This is where you see mirepoix which is a typical base for soup. French Mirepoix is: onion, carrot, celery but there are many types of combinations depending the country.
Add what you like – and what flavor profile you’re going for (French, Asian, Latin) then add what flavors lend themselves to each other. For example, a French style soup may start with butter and mirepoix and an Italian style soup may start with olive oil and soffritto.
Plus + “The Substance”
PROTEIN- Pretty straightforward: poultry, beef, fish or seafood, eggs, beans. You can mix some, too!
VEGGIES- Almost any veggies work in soup. Generally speaking, the less dense it is, the faster it will cook and the denser ones need longer time to soften. For example, you would add carrots first and then the zucchini closer to serving.
GRAINS AND PASTAS- You can choose to add grains to give more substance to the soup, but they absorb a lot of liquid, so add less thank you think (or cook them separately) remember that you must add another layer of seasoning with salt as well.
Plus + The liquid
LIQUID- Water, homemade stock or packaged broth, (sometimes I do I mix of both water and broth) Coconut milk, tomato sauce, etc. Add more than just to cover the contents of the soup[. Allow the soup to cook for a bit before tasting and adjusting.
FLAVOR ENHANCERS- herbs, citrus juice, cream, alcohol or even garnishes like zest, chopped nuts, croutons, tortilla strips, flavored oils, etc this also helps with contrasting textures!
Putting it altogether
1. Start with your base and either sweat or caramelize. Do you want a sweeter, depth of flavor? Caramelize your vegetables. Want a lighter, cleaner flavor? Sweat them. Release all their liquid without any color, yet get them soft and translucent. Add a layer of seasoning.
2. Add your “substance” ingredients, but keep in mind not to add them too early if they cook quickly. For example, sliced chicken breast doesn’t take long before it becomes rubbery – so cook the rest of the soup before adding lean meat and poultry. Also, I always season poultry/beef before it goes into the liquid.
3. Add liquid, bring to a boil and then turn down to low to simmer for as long as you’ve got the time!
4. If you want to reduce the liquid, you can keep it uncovered, but otherwise, to keep the heat and moisture in,
put a lid on it.
5. After about 15 minutes of cooking – give it a taste and adjust for seasoning. Usually the culprit of a watery of “flat” soup is lack of salt or lack of cooking time. So adjust those and go from there.