Welcome to a first in a series of posts on soup making techniques! I loved the soups, stocks and sauces phase of culinary arts school and since I consider this my area of expertise when it comes to cooking, I wanted to share this simple way to enhance your meals and use up leftovers.
Autumn is in the air and I am excited because this is my time of year to make soups! I never buy canned soup because it is chock full of preservatives, salt and to me, it just tastes bland. Icky!
OK, I lied, I will buy canned soup for cooking such as cream of mushroom. But alas, I would not just eat it as a soup. I suppose culinary training made me a food snob 😉
To make a good soup, one needs to understand basic soup ingredients and terms. I learned these in school and I admit, the french terms are fun to learn and remember. You will see me use them a lot in my recipes on here. Let’s start with some basic ones:
- Roux- A mixture of melted butter with equal parts flour. This is used to thicken soups
- Mirepoix- a simple mix of celery, carrots and onions, used to flavor stocks
- Bisque- Different from a cream soup, this is made from shellfish
- Napper– Thick enough to coat the back of a spoon
- Ragout– a stew
You may be a bit confused now. You may be saying to yourself..”What is the difference between a stock and a broth?” “How do I even start to make a soup from scratch?”
Simply put, a stock is what you start with and a broth is flavored by a stock. (huh?)
To make the best soup, you need the best stock. This is best achieved by making your own stock. Soup is great because you can basically use ‘garbage’ to make a stock, thus your soup is low cost. For a stock, you will need mirepoix, water and (for this purpose) a turkey or chicken carcass. All this can be saved from previous meals. Next time you bring home a rotisserie chicken or this thanksgiving, put your bird’s carcass in the freezer.
To make the stock, simply add the carcass(es) to water, add mirepoix (in about equal parts) and herbs like peppercorn and thyme to a large pot Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 6-8 hours. When the time is up, you will have a delicious stock. To finish it off, just cool quickly in an ice-bath and strain out the chunks. Set it in your fridge overnight and skim off the gelatin (fats) in the morning. You now have a delicious stock. For storage, I suggest heating up until remaining fats are liquid and again cooling to a temperature you can handle. Set up or have someone hold gallon zipper bags and pour in. Lay flat on the freezer. When frozen, you can stack them on their sides for space.
Once you have an awesome stock made, you are ready to make soup. Join me next week when I talk about the different types of soap and the basics of making a cream soup.
By the way, the soups pictured are of soups I made when I was in Culinary Arts School.