One of my recent additions to the list of why I love fall is soup. I have never been a soup person. I think it is because all I ever knew was Campbell’s or my mother’s chicken noodle soup. Nothing against my mother, but I just can’t bear the smell of a boiling chicken. I don’t know why, its probably not rational, but I can’t stay in the house if there is a poor chicken frothing away in a pot of water on the stove. Ick!
My husband loves soups and my stay-at-home mother salary of $0.00 forced me to reconsider soup as a meal to serve my family. Soup is forgiving, cost effective, allows you to use up produce of waning quality and fills your home with a wonderful aroma that will have the neighbors knocking on your door! (As long as you stay away from boiling a chicken, that is.) Once you get the hang of it you can pretty much wing it, which is a huge plus to me.
#1: Invest in a good soup pot. I love my knock-off Le Creuset. I would certainly love it more if it were real since mine isn’t wearing all that well. There are some chips and dings where the enamel is coming off. I have a glass top range. I think that is flirting with disaster, but nevertheless, I flirt relentlessly with it because it is what I have for the time being. The cast-iron pot holds heat well and distributes it evenly which makes it great for sautéing your aromatics and then simmering soup for an afternoon.
#2: Use a wooden spoon, and make it hefty. Some soups are thick and many of mine contain lots of beans. It is hard to stir a vat of soup on the stove with a toothpick, or gasp, something made out of recycled vinyl siding.
#3: Get an immersion blender. Now. You are limiting yourself if you don’t make any pureed soups. Sure you can use your blender… if you don’t mind it exploding all over you and your kitchen, burning you in the process and leaving you with about 250 more pieces of extra kitchenware to clean. Put the immersion blender in the soup on the stove. Whirrrrrrr. Done. Don’t you want one? Mine was a birthday present for making Luke pureed baby food when he was 6 months old and also came with attachments for a whisk and a mini food processor. I love all three attachments and would highly recommend it!!
#4: Make soup in some quantity. I always make big pots of soup. It makes a great no effort lunch that will leave you feeling a lot more satisfied and is so much healthier than whatever handful of something you happen to pull out of the cabinet because you are so busy. It also freezes well for those nights when you could use a wife to cook for you too.
#5: I learned this one the hard way- Pasta has a limitless ability to absorb any amount of stock you may have had in your soup. It’s amazing. Beautiful soup, delicious dinner, an hour later your ditalini have turned into ziti and there is no liquid left. Horror? Not unless you are serving it to guests or bringing it to neighbors. Those will be the tastiest giant mushy pasta noodles around and I have learned to love them. If, however, you want to avoid this, cook the pasta separately and then add the pasta to each bowl first and pour the soup over them. Or avoid pasta. Use rice which holds up a little better, but can still be a stock hog.