Saturday, January 19, 2008

January is National Soup Month


January is National Soup Month. A delicious steamy bowl of soup is the perfect winter comfort food.

Homemade soups use a variety of ingredients including meat, poultry, fish and seafood, vegetables, fruits, milk, cream, sour cream, cheese, wine, eggs, herbs and spices, grains, and noodles.

Soups can be chunky or smooth, thick or thin, clear broth or creamy, hot or cold. Various types of soups are served hot, warm, room temperature, and chilled. Cold soups tend to lessen the effect on the taste buds so require additional salt, pepper, herbs, and spices for proper taste.

Many soups use a thickener for the proper consistency. The best method to thicken most soups is to remove some of the cooked vegetables, puree in a blender, and return the pureed mixture to the pot.

If you are short on veggies or there are none in your soup, make a paste of flour mixed with twice as much cold stock, milk or water. Add the paste and stir slowly at a simmer for about 5-10 minutes. The ratio is 1-1/2 teaspoons of flour to 1 cup of soup.

A roux of butter and flour can also be used as a thickener. The longer the roux is cooked, the darker and more flavorful it becomes.

Cream is another alternative to not only thicken soup, but to also add a luxurious richness.

A cornstarch slurry of 1 part cornstarch to 2 parts liquid will also thicken, but should not be boiled or the thickening will break down.

Soup can be served as an appetizer, a first course, a sandwich accompaniment, a main course, or a dessert.

Soup accompaniments include crackers, crusty rolls, breads, and corn muffins. Use toppings like sour cream, grated cheese, fresh herbs, chives, croutons, or tortilla chips.

Many soups taste best if cooked and then refrigerated so the flavors blend. Fat that solidifies on the surface of the chilled soup can be easily removed.

Who knew there were so many kinds of soup? I found the following kinds of soups at online cooking web sites and in various cookbooks.

Bisque a thick, rich soup usually consisting of pureed seafood and cream. Newer recipes may use poultry or vegetables in place of seafood. Two examples are Crab Bisque or Pumpkin Bisque.

Billy bi a French soup made with mussels, onions, wine, cream and seasonings. The classic recipe strains the mussels to leave a smooth soup, but the mussels are often left in as an added bonus these days. (Also "billi-bi")

Bird's Nest a Chinese soup actually made from the white or black nests of a small Asian bird. The nests are difficult to harvest, thus very expensive.

Borscht a soup from Russia and Poland made with fresh beets, assorted vegetables, and sometimes with meat and/or meat stock, usually garnished with a dollop of sour cream and served either hot or cold.

Bouillabaisse a French seafood stew made of fish, shellfish, onions, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, garlic, saffron and herbs.

Bouillon a broth made from cooking vegetables, poultry, meat or fish in water.

Bourride a Mediterranean fish soup with garlic, onions, orange peel, and sometimes saffron, thickened with egg yolks and flavored with garlic mayonnaise.

Broth a liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat or fish in water; same as "bouillon."

Brunswick Stew a hearty squirrel meat and onion stew originating in Brunswick County, Virginia, USA. Modern versions substitute chicken or rabbit for the squirrel and may also add other vegetables such as okra, lima beans, tomatoes and corn.

Burgoo a thick stew of a combination of meats, including pork, veal, beef, lamb and poultry, with various vegetables including potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, sweet green peppers, corn, okra, lima beans and celery; originally made with small game such as rabbit and squirrel and popular in the Kentucky region of the USA.

Callaloo a Caribbean soup made with callaloo leaves (from taro root), coconut milk, okra, yams and chiles.

Chowder a thick, chunky seafood or other rich soup containing chunks of food.

Cioppino a rich Italian fish stew made with tomatoes and a variety of fish and shellfish, usually highly-spiced.

Consommé clarified meat or fish broth

Coulis originally this term referred to the juices from cooked meats. It can also be a thick pureed shellfish soup. Nowadays, many different types of thick purees are called coulis, including vegetable and fruit mixtures.

Court-Bouillon a broth made from cooking various vegetables and herbs, usually an onion studded with a few whole cloves, celery, carrots and bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and bay leaf), perhaps with a little wine, lemon juice or vinegar; used as a poaching base for fish, seafood or vegetables.

Fumet a concentrated stock, particularly one made from fish or mushrooms, used to add flavor to less intensely-flavored stocks or sauces.

Gazpacho an uncooked soup made of a pureed mixture of fresh tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumber, bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and sometimes lemon juice which is served cold; also served chunky-style. You may also see this spelled "gaspacho."

Menudo a hearty, spicy Mexican soup made with tripe, calf's feet, chiles, hominy and seasonings reputed to be a great hangover cure.

Minestrone a thick Italian vegetable soup usually containing pasta along with peas or beans and sometimes other vegetables.

Mulligan Stew a stew made literally of what's on hand including meat, potatoes and vegetables in any combination.

Mulligatawny a rich meat or vegetable broth highly seasoned with curry and other spices with bits of poulty or other meats and can include rice, eggs, coconut shreds and/or cream; originally from India.

Irish Stew a stew made of seasoned lamb or mutton chops, potatoes and onions, covered with water or broth and stewed for several hours.

Potage a French soup usually pureed and often thickened with cream or egg yolks.

Pepper Pot a thick soup of tripe, meat, vegetables, pepper and seasonings also known as Philadelphia pepper pot.

Posole a Mexican thick, hearty soup made of pork or chicken meat and broth, hominy, onion, garlic, dried chiles and cilantro and served with chopped lettuce, radishes, onions, cheese and cilantro as optional additions at the table.

Scotch Broth a Scottish soup made with lamb or mutton, barley and various vegetables.

Soup basically any combination of vegetables, fruit, meat, and/or fish cooked in a liquid.

Stew a dish containing meat, vegetables and a thick soup-like broth made from a combination of the stewing liquid and the natural juices of the food being stewed.

Stock strained liquid that is the result of cooking vegetables, meat or fish and other seasonings in water.

Vichyssoise a rich, creamy potato and leek soup garnished with chives and served cold.

Won Ton a Chinese favorite made of won tons (bite-size dumplings filled with a minced mixture of meat, seafood and/or vegetables) cooked in and served in a clear broth flavored with various ingredients such as scallions, celery and soy sauce.

Pumpkin Bisque

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 16 ounce can pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken stock made with Watkins Chicken Soup Base
1/2 teaspoon Watkins Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Watkins Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Watkins Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1/4 cup dry sherry
Watkins Nutmeg

Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until they are soft and transparent.

Add the pumpkin, stock, cayenne pepper, ground pepper, allspice, sugar, and sherry. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes. Place the mixture in a blender and puree until smooth.

Return the soup to the pot, add the half-and-half, and simmer until heated. Garnish with the nutmeg and serve.

This soup can be served either hot or cold. Serve it hot with grilled fish and seasoned green beans or cold as a luncheon entree with a crisp salad. Makes 4 servings.

Gazpacho (A cold soup)

1/2 pound tomatoes (about 2 or 3 medium), divided use
1 cup chopped sweet onions, divided use
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped, divided use
1 medium bell pepper, seeds removed, divided use
5 ounces roasted, peeled red peppers (can use canned)
1 (14-ounce) can tomato juice
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 or 3 slices of bread, cubed
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Watkins Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons chopped chives

Place half of each of the tomatoes, sweet onions, cucumber, bell pepper, and roasted red peppers into a food processor or heavy-duty blender.

Add 1 cup of the tomato juice and puree until smooth.

Pour puree into a large mixing bowl and mix in the remaining tomato juice. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Place serving bowls in the refrigerator to chill.

Rub the clove of garlic around the interior of a large skillet. Heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking, then add the bread crumbs and saute until golden brown. Set bread cubes aside.

Chop remaining vegetables to a uniform 1/4-inch dice. Place in a small mixing bowl along with balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Let marinate at room temperature up to 1 hour, then mix into the refrigerated puree.

To serve, ladle gazpacho soup into chilled bowls and garnish with chopped chives and toasted bread cubes. Makes 8 servings.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1-2 lb. cooked chicken tenders
2-3 potatoes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups water
3 teaspoons Watkins Chicken Soup Base
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 diced tomato
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon Watkins Chili Powder
1 small can diced green chilies
Fresh cilantro, to taste
3 flour tortillas
Grated cheese
Avocado slices

Cut cooked chicken tenders and potatoes into cubes. Place all ingredients except tortillas, cheese, and avocado into a crock pot and cook on medium heat for 5-6 hours. Cut flour tortillas into small strips. Fry in batches in deep fat until slightly golden brown.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with fried tortillas, grated cheese, and avocado slice.

Minestrone Soup

This filling vegetarian soup is bursting with beans and other flavors from the garden.

1 C. celery, minced fine
1 C. onion, minced fine
1 C. carrot, minced fine
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. garbanzo beans
1/2 C. kidney beans
1/2 C. whole dried peas
1/2 C. white pea beans
3/4 C. sliced carrots
3/4 C. coarsely chopped onion
3/4 C. sliced celery
3/4 C. chopped bell pepper
1/2 C. rice or barley
1 C. shell macaroni
2 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. Watkins Oregano
1 tsp. Watkins Basil
2 tsp. soy sauce
Watkins Pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Slowly sauté finely minced onion, celery and carrot in butter until very brown. Add peas and beans and about 3 quarts of water. Cook slowly until beans are almost done; about 2 hours. Add the remaining vegetables, rice, spices and more water to cook another hour. Add the macaroni 30 minutes before serving and more water if needed. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (1 1/2 to 2 lbs.) smoked ham hock
1 package (1 lb.) dried split peas
1 Watkins Bay Leaf
1/2 teaspoon Watkins Thyme

  1. Heat oil in a 6-quart pot over moderate heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 3 quarts water and remaining ingredients; simmer, loosely covered, until split peas are very tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Remove and discard bay leaf. Transfer ham hock to a cutting board. Puree soup in small batches in blender until smooth. Transfer to a clean pot. Remove skin and fat from ham hock. Pull meat from bone and shred into bite-size pieces. Add 3/4 of ham to soup and reheat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally; salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with remaining ham. Makes 8 servings.

Southwest Chicken Corn Chowder

Mild green chiles, chili powder, and cilantro give a Southwest flavor to chicken corn chowder. Serve in toasted bread bowls for an impressive and tasty presentation.

1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth made with 4 cups boiling water and 6 teaspoons Watkins Chicken Soup Base
2 red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp Watkins Oregano
1/2 tsp Watkins Poultry Seasoning
1/2 tsp Watkins Chili Powder
Salt and Watkins Pepper to taste
3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 (4 ounces) can chopped mild green chiles, drained
1 large raw chicken breast cut into 1-inch bites
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
2 cups Mexican 4-cheese blend shredded cheese
1 roasted red pepper, cut into 1-inch strips (jarred is fine)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Hot sauce to taste
Shredded cheese and additional chopped cilantro for garnish
Bread bowls for serving

In a large Dutch oven, saute the sweet onions in butter or olive oil until they begin to turn translucent and fragrant.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes, oregano, poultry seasoning, chili powder, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil and simmer about ten minutes, until potatoes are just barely tender. Add the corn and simmer until corn is heated through.

Remove about 1-1/2 cups of the chowder and puree in a blender or food processor. Return puree to the chowder and add green chiles and chicken. Simmer about 5 minutes to cook chicken. Add cream and shredded cheese. Stir until incorporated and cheese has melted. Gently stir in red pepper, cilantro, and hot sauce to taste.

Serve in toasted bread bowls with additional shredded cheese and cilantro for garnish. Toast the top of each bread bowl and eat with soup. Makes 6 servings.

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

1 1/2 pounds boneless lean beef, cubed
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Watkins Black Pepper
2 tsp. Watkins Garlic Powder
4 cups beef broth made with Watkins Beef Soup Base
6 C. water
4 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 C. chopped fresh parsley
1 C. barley
1 tsp. Watkins Thyme

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the beef in the oil for 5 minutes, or until browned. Stir in the salt, pepper, and garlic powder and place seasoned meat in a slow cooker. Add a little water to the skillet and stir to pick up the browned bits. Add to the slow cooker. Add the broth, water, celery, carrots, green onions, parsley, and barley. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours, or until the vegetables and barley are tender. Add the thyme just before serving. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Chilled Strawberry Orange Soup Recipe
Whip up this delicious fruit soup in a food processor or blender in a matter of minutes. Frozen strawberries may be substituted for fresh.

1 pound fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, slightly thawed (about 1 pint)
1-1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice (optional)
1 teaspoon grated ginger

Process strawberries, orange juice, sugar, lime juice, and ginger in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Summer Fruit Soup

Fruit Soup - easy to make and refreshing to eat - is the perfect summer dessert.

3 cups fresh fruit, diced (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, grapes)
6 cups water
1/2 cup sugar or honey, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Watkins Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

  1. Combine all fruit, water, sugar or honey, and cinnamon in a large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
  3. Mix 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water. Then stir the cornstarch mixture into the soup. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, cool, and refrigerate.
  5. Serve cold.

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