American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition

 

The Joy of Soup

During the hustle and bustle and stress of the holiday season, soup can really spread some joy. mosaic_whitebeansoup2

Soup makes the house smell great, and when its cold and dark outside nothing is more comforting than a hot bowl of yummy goodness. You can start it in the morning in the slow cooker, make it at the last minute in the pressure cooker, or go old-school with a good stock pot on the stove. Need some soup recipes? Try clicking here and here and here.

Here are some tips to take your soup from good to great.

When you start:

When you saute your aromatics (onion, garlic, carrot, celery, etc.) add your spices in and let them bloom in the oil to add more flavor to the soup. Adding tomato paste or some canned tomatoes at this point will also boost the flavor.

When you add the big vegetables or beans, get them coated with all the flavorings and oil and let it all simmer a few minutes before adding your stock or water.

If you’re using water instead of stock (perfectly fine!) you can add more flavor and body by adding a few bay leaves and the rind from some parmesan cheese. I keep a ziplock bag of rinds in the freezer – once a block of cheese is done I pop in the rind and I have some when I make soup. Rinse and scrub them, then add to the pot.

When the soup is done:

If your soup seems too thin, instant polenta and instant potato flakes are good thickeners. Start with 1/3 cup (for every four cups of stock or water you added), let it simmer a few minutes, and then add a little more if you need it. Your soup will be velvety and have a richer flavor.

If your soup tastes a little dull, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of wine vinegar (red or white) will brighten it up and make it sing. A spoonful of pesto (store bought is fine) turns a plain vegetable soup into something special.

If your soup needs richness, a swirl of olive oil on top can make it sumptuous; so can some grated cheese. Or both – I won’t judge.

And lastly, keep some good crusty bread in your freezer. You can warm it up in the oven while you finish the soup. Voila – you’ve turned a simple, easy soup into a quick, satisfying meal. Way better than take out.

Nothing says I love you like soup.

Enjoy!

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