Soups

Desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. 

This was the situation I found myself in almost 15 years ago when I came home after a long and difficult day of work and needed to come up with something to eat for dinner. As a young, single woman in New York City, I didn’t regularly go food shopping, nor did I have a well-stocked pantry. In fact, most of the time I ate out. However, that night I needed the comfort of something homemade. And so, I improvised with the only ingredients I could find – a can of tomatoes, olive oil, garlic salt and a chunk of cheese – I know, sad… But you know what? It hit the spot. I added the olive oil and tomatoes (with their liquid) to the pot and seasoned with the garlic salt. After simmering the mixture for about 20 minutes, I had a flavorful soup that I topped off with cheese shavings that melted effortlessly into the soup.

THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF SOUP. Using humble ingredients and simple techniques, it is easy to take whatever you have in your refrigerator/pantry and prepare a hearty and satisfying meal.

Soups, and their corresponding cooking techniques, can be grouped into the following three categories:

  • Clear
  • Thickened
  • Specialty/National

Like sauces, if you can master certain key techniques, you can then easily make derivative soups by adding and varying ingredients.

Below is detailed information on the methods for preparing each type of soup. Additionally, you will find listings of popular derivative soups that follow the same process. But first, a few definitions:

CLEAR SOUPS – Based on a clear, unthickened broth or stock

  • BROTH – simple, clear soups without solid ingredients; made from simmering meat and vegetables
  • VEGETABLE SOUP – clear, seasoned stock or broth with the addition of one or more vegetables and, sometimes, meat, poultry, starch
  • CONSOMME – rich, flavorful stock or broth that has been clarified to make it perfectly clear and transparent; coagulated proteins (albumins) bring impurities to the surface

THICK SOUPS – Opaque and thickened with a thickening agent or a puree

  • CREAM – thickened with roux or other thickening agents plus milk and/or cream
  • PUREES – naturally thickened by pureeing one or more ingredients
  • BISQUES – thickened cream soup made from shellfish
  • CHOWDERS – hearty soup made from fish, shellfish and/or veg, usually containing milk and potatoes
  • POTAGE – term associated with hearty soups; means soup in French

SPECIALTY/NATIONAL – catch-all category for soups that don’t fit into the main categories and are native to particular areas such as French Onion, Avgolemono, Borscht, Gulyas, Gumbo, Miso Soup, Chinese Hot & Sour, Chilled Tomato & Basil, Ecuadorian Quinoa & Peanut, Tortilla, Mulligatawny, Pho Bo, Caldo Verde, Zuppa di Ceci e Riso, Minestrone, Scotch Broth, Gazpacho

SOUPS – PREPARATION TECHNIQUES AND DERIVATIVES

VEGETABLE SOUP

Classification: CLEAR

Method:

  1. Choose vegetables that match flavor-wise and cut neatly
  2. Sweat vegetables in olive oil or butter with a pinch of salt and pepper
  3. To avoid overcooking, prepare starch (i.e. rice, potatoes) and any added meat separately and incorporate into the soup towards the end of the cooking process
  4. Add flavorful stock
  5. Simmer the mixture and add seasoning (salt/pepper)

Derivatives:

  • Vegetable Rice – Add rice
  • Chicken Vegetable – Add chunks of cooked chicken
  • Rice Vegetable Beef – Add rice and chunks of cooked beef
  • Vegetable Beef Barley – Add barley and chunks of cooked beef

CONSOMME

Classification: CLEAR

Method:

  1. Mix raft (term for the mixture of lean ground beef, egg whites, mirepoix, tomato paste, bouquet garni, salt and pepper which is used to clarify the soup)
  2. Combine the raft with COLD well-flavored stock/broth and heat
  3. Stir until it simmers then STOP and allow the raft to come to the surface and form itself
  4. Allow to simmer for 1.5 hours
  5. Decant through a chinois with coffee filters or cheesecloth
  6. Degrease the soup by dabbing the surface with paper towels
  7. Season with salt and pepper

Derivatives:

  • Double Consomme – Use 2x beef and add leeks
  • Chicken Consomme – Use chicken stock and lemon juice
  • Cold Jellied Consomme – Add gelatin
  • Consomme Madrilene – Increase tomatoes
  • Celery Consomme – Increase celery
  • Consomme au Porto – Finish with port
  • Consomme au Sherry – Finish with sherry
  • Consomme Fettucine – Made into noodles

CREAM SOUP

Classification: THICK

Method #1:

  1. Sweat vegetables in olive oil or butter with a pinch of salt and pepper
  2. Add veloute or béchamel to thicken the soup
  3. Depouyer – skim the surface with a spoon to eliminate fats and impurities
  4. Puree (with a stick blender or by transfering soup to a stand blender)
  5. Strain the mixture for a smoother consistency
  6. Add milk or stock
  7. Adjust seasonings and finish with a liaison or heavy cream

Method #2:

  1. Sweat vegetables in olive oil or butter with a pinch of salt and pepper
  2. Make a roux  to thicken the soup
  3. Add stock
  4. Simmer until tender
  5. Depouyer – skim the surface with a spoon to eliminate fats and impurities
  6. Puree (with a stick blender or by transfering soup to a stand blender)
  7. Strain the mixture for a smoother consistency
  8. Add milk or stock
  9. Adjust seasonings and finish with a liaison or cream

Method #3:

  1. Sweat vegetables in olive oil or butter with a pinch of salt and pepper
  2. Add stock and boil
  3. Simmer until tender
  4. Add roux or beurre manie to thicken the soup
  5. Depouyer – skim the surface with a spoon to eliminate fats and impurities
  6. Puree (with a stick blender or by transfering soup to a stand blender)
  7. Strain the mixture for a smoother consistency
  8. Add milk or cream
  9. Adjust seasonings

Derivatives:

  • Cream of Broccoli – Add broccoli
  • Cream of Mushroom – Add mushrooms

PUREE SOUP

Classification: THICK

Method:

  1. Sweat mirepoix in olive oil or butter with a pinch of salt and pepper
  2. Add stock
  3. Add vegetables and another pinch of salt and pepper
  4. Simmer until tender
  5. Puree (with a stick blender or by transfering soup to a stand blender)
  6. Strain the mixture for a smoother consistency
  7. Add cream, if desired
  8. Season

Derivatives:

  • Potage Crecy – Add carrots
  • Dubarry – Add cauliflower
  • Potage Parmentier – Add leeks and potatoes
  • Potage Solferino – Add cream of tomato to potato and leek soup
  • Puree Mongole – Add split pea soup to tomato puree
  • Vichyssoise – Chill Potage Parmentier

BISQUE

Classification: THICK

Method:

  1. Sweat mirepoix
  2. Add shellfish shells
  3. Pincer la tomate – add tomato paste and cook through
  4. Deglaze with brandy and wine
  5. Add stock and a thickener – either rice, roux, veloute, beurre manie, OR cornstarch slurry)
  6. Puree (with a stick blender or by transfering soup to a stand blender)
  7. Strain the mixture for a smoother consistency
  8. Add cream and adjust seasoning

Derivatives:

  • Shrimp Bisque
  • Lobster Bisque

CHOWDER

Classification: THICK

Method:

  1. Render bacon
  2. Sweat vegetables in the bacon fat with a pinch of salt and pepper
  3. Make roux to thicken the soup
  4. Add stock and boil
  5. Add potatoes and simmer until tender
  6. Add hot milk or cream
  7. Adjust seasonings

Derivatives:

  • Clam Chowder – Add clams just before serving
  • Fish Chowder – Add fish just before serving
  • Potato Chowder
  • Corn Chowder – Add corn
  • Corn and Crab Chowder – Add corn and crab (just before serving)

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