soup may be thick or thin, hot or cold, subtle or spicy, jellied, pureed or
creamed. It may be as clear as a glass or full of chunky bits of vegetables and
meats. Some soups derive their essential flavor from a rich stock; others depend
upon water or milk to capture the pure taste of the ingredients. Certain soups
can be cooked in 30 minutes (some do not even take cooking), but others require
hours of slow simmering and taste even better when they've been left to mellow
in the refrigerator for several days. Here are some additional points to
consider in preparing your favorite soup.
There used to be an obligatory "soup course" in every
formal meal. Today we use soup less conventionally: soup and a sandwich
often constitute lunch; a really hearty soup can be the whole supper; a good
soup can be the centerpiece of a meal with deliberately light dishes
When soup does preside as the first course, it s usually a clear,
delicate soup to stimulate the appetite, unless the courses to follow are
light and demand a rich or heavy soup at the outset.
The quantity of soup that a recipe produces may vary a bit each time
you make it, depending upon the proportions of liquid in the ingredients and
how long and briskly it has been cooked.
- Soup recipes do not have
to be precise: a little more or less of the ingredients prescribed, or the
addition of something new, can often be an improvement.
- This flexibility presents
the cook with thrifty way to use leftovers: the content of the refrigerator
shelves may be even dictate what kind of soup to make.
- Please note that any
leftovers you used must seem agreeable with the distinctive flavors of the
soup. An equal amount of experience and good judgment is required to decide
both what should and what should not go into the soup or stockpot.
- Most soup should be cooked
in a covered pot to retain flavors and nutrients, although you may want to
cover the pot only partially to reduce the soup a bit and to intensify its
- It is better to season a
soup when it is nearly done because, as it simmers, it cooks down, any salt
you may have put in is intensified.
- Also, if it is a
stock-based soup you are making, the salt content of the stock, particularly
if it is a canned or dehydrated variety, is apt to vary greatly.
- It is so much better to
taste a soup toward the end of its cooking and let your palate be your
- And don't be timid about
seasoning; it may surprise you to discover how much salt is needed to bring
out the good flavor of a soup. Nothing is less appealing than a bland soup.
- Many soups are equally
good hot or cold. You can sometimes make one soup serve as two by offering
it hot one day and cold the next.
- Soup thickens as they
cool, and chilled soup may need to be thinned with extra broth or cream.
- If the stock base is rich
and meaty, it may gel when refrigerated, in which case beat well with a wire
- Cold soups, like all cold
foods, require more seasoning than hot.
BINDING AND THICKENING SOUP
- Flour is used with certain
soups to add body and as a binder to inhibit separation and curdling. One
tablespoon of butter to one of flour is the right proportion for every two
cups of soup.
- Stir the flour into the
melted butter and cook for about 3 minutes over low heat; then stir in a
little of the hot soup, whisk well, cook until thick. Then add the remaining
soup; heat and stir until smooth.
- Some soups are thickened
with egg yolks: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of milk or cream to each
cup of soup shortly before serving.
- To prevent curdling,
drizzle a little hot soup slowly into the egg yolks, whisking briskly, then
pour into the pot of soup, reheating slowly and stirring until it thickens.
Do not boil or the eggs will curdle.
- Small touches are all you
need to enhance the appearance and flavor of a soup---a sprinkling of
chopped parsley, chives, dill, or other fresh herbs, for instance, or a
bundle of quickly blanched vegetables such as carrots, turnips, broccoli
stems, or scattering of a raw ones like scallions and mushrooms; a dusting
of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, chopped eggs or nuts; a little rice or
pasta for body; a hint of sherry or wine for accent; a dollop of sour cream,
a slice of lemon, some chopped, cooked chicken, or a few crisp pork craps
added to each bowl at the last minute---these are all fine finishing touches
and are suggested in specific recipes when they seem appropriate.