Soup is wonderful. It is simple to easy, healthful, inexpensive (except for lobster bisque) and you can make plenty for leftovers. In other words, it is the ideal family food for autumn and winter. Assemble your essential cookware then follow these 4 steps to perfect soup.
Step 1: Soup starter kit
Keeping a soup starter kit to hand means you can whip up a pot with whatever fresh ingredients, either meat or vegetables, you have to hand. Obviously there are endless spice and herb options, not to mention different kinds of oils and stocks you can use. This is just a suggestion list — amend it to your taste.
NB: Dried herbs are great in soups as they are inexpensive and withstand cooking. Save fresh herbs for garnish.
- Vegetable stock (cubes or liquid)
- Chicken/meat stock (cubes or liquid)
- Miso paste
- Cooking oil
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Bayleaf (laurel)
- Pimenton picante or dulce (sweet or hot paprika)
- Black or mixed peppercorns
- Coarse sea salt
With these basic ingredients you can start any soup from chicken noodle to Japanese ramen to beef stew. The secret is, you assemble soup like you would a balanced meal — starch, vegetable and protein. The combination is up to you!
Step 2: Pick your protein
Lots of times people think protein = meat, but there are all kinds of protein options to enrich your soup and turn it into a hearty, healthful meal. You can put any meat (and most parts of an animal) in a soup pot. It is a traditional way to extract nutrients from otherwise inedible parts of the animal like hocks or necks. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and rabbit are all possibilities. In Ibiza, of course, we cannot neglect seafood! Fish soups and stews can be delicious.
Beans are a fantastic protein source for vegetarian soups. Try chickpeas, white, black, navy, broad, kidney or pinto beans. Buy dried beans and soak them overnight before cooking for a cheap, nutritious addition to your meal.
Step 3: Choose a starch:
Not all soups require a starch, but we have a soft spot for those that do. Noodles add an extra dimension that we love. Farfalle, macaroni, fusilli and penne are great in soups based on Italian, Spanish or French flavours. For Asian-style soups try thick white udon noodles, nutty soba, rice stick or vermicelli.
One trick for adding body to vegetable soups is to puree a peeled baked potato into the stock to add some body.
Step 4: Eat your vegetables
Almost anything you find in your fridge, cupboard or garden will be at home in soup. Root vegetables add earthy notes and beautiful colour, think beetroot, carrot, parsnip, Swede or celeriac. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and their relatives are hearty and delicious. All types of squash are great in soups, as are mushrooms.
Soup is simple: start with the basics, mix and match and add ingredients to taste, then enjoy!
Share your favourite soup recipe or cooking tip in the comments!