Post # 220 Home Made Soup, It’s What’s For Dinner

February 12, 2014 at 4:59 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 220 Home Made Soup, It’s What’s For Dinner

I really can’t think of too many things that elicit as warm and homey a feeling as soup made in your own kitchen.  It bathes the entire house in its succulent aroma.  For hours, it tempts and entices.  The eating is seldom a disappointment.  And when you’re sick and someone else makes it for you!  Well!

Soup is so easy to do.  It can be as easy as two ingredients that come together in minutes, or as complex as a Thanksgiving dinner that takes about as long to prepare.  It can be made from scratch, beginning to end, or out of a can or envelope and still taste just as good.  I have several favorite soups I’m going to tell you about now.

Total favorite is chicken noodle, which seems to be everybody’s favorite.  I know so many ways to make this from easy to complex.  For me, if the concoction has garlic and chicken in it, I’m probably going to slurp it up.  One of my favorite ways to make this is from an envelope.  Sorry, I know, you all expected something where I butchered a hen, but nope.  Bear Valley makes instant soups that are amazing.  They have several varieties and we haven’t tried them all, but one that I fell in love with from the first moment was their Creamy Wild Rice soup.  You boil eight cups of water, dump in the contents of the envelope, stir an simmer for ten minutes and it’s a wonderful soup.  BUT if you add one chicken breast chopped into small pieces, and one clove of garlic chopped into smaller pieces, this is transformed.  When I was in college, I would open a small can of chopped chicken and dump it into a pan with two cups of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of chicken bullion.  I’d let that simmer for a few minutes and add some garlic powder and onion powder, then add either cooked noodles or cooked rice, whatever was handy.  If I had any vegetables handy, they’d go in too.  Not the best soup, but still better than top ramen, which I ate a lot of.  Now, of course, it’s all about the complexity of flavors so we start by roasting a chicken, cooling it and shredding the meat off the bones.  Lay the meat to the side and boil up the bones and various vegetables to make a hearty stock.  Strain everything and clarify the stock (remove the fat), then onward to chicken soup with fresh veggies, the chicken stock, and the shredded chicken.  Takes a while, but the flavor is unbelievable.

My next favorite is beef and noodles.  For some reason, I love a good roast cut into chunks and simmered for hours with onion and garlic and salt.  It just tastes good.  Throw in some noodles of pretty much any kind and you’ve got a great soup.  I also like to throw in green beans because that combo tastes good to me.  A lot of times I put in a can of diced tomatoes to make the stocker heartier.  Partner/Spouse will also brown bacon bits in the pan before browning the beef to add another layer of flavor.

Another soup I like is one that I get in a lot of Asian restaurants.  It’s basically just beef bullion with finely chopped green onion and paper thin slices of mushrooms.  A cup of that is worth the dollar I spend on it.  I don’t like cream soups, but I do like creamy soups when there is no cream in them.  It’s easy to make a creamy soup with a flour roux (butter and flour cooked to a paste, see post # 2) and water.  One soup that I’ve had only once but loved was a creamy mushroom soup where the mushrooms were sautéed in butter until well cooked and all juices released then removed from the pan.  Flour was added to make a roux, then chicken stock was added to make the base.  The mushrooms were added back to the soup to cook for a while then the whole thing was pureed to a luxurious creaminess.  I was hesitant, at first, to try it since as I said, I don’t care of cream soups.  But this one was made without cream, and was delicious.  Spices were added just before serving so the flavors were just beginning to blend and still held a ruggedness that was unusual and delightful.

My two least favorite soups are tomato and potato, and not because they’re both creamy soups, and not because they rhyme.  When I was a kid, I did not like potatoes in any form that wasn’t crispy.  French fries and potato chips were good, all other forms were for the birds and I ate them reluctantly and only after a protracted battle with my mother.  You know the stubbornness of a little kid who doesn’t want to eat?  An Irish mom who’s just spent a couple of hours at the stove cooking can out-stubborn that little kid.  That dislike for potatoes disappeared as I grew older (and didn’t have potatoes every single day of my life) but potato soup never made its way to my “Like” list.  Tomato soup is a puzzle.  As much as I like tomatoes, you’d think tomato soup would be a given, but it’s not.  I don’t like tomato juice; I don’t Bloody Marys; I don’t like tomato soup.  Not even Gazpacho.  Go figure.  Kind of like mashed potatoes, there’s nothing to get my teeth around.  Or maybe I just don’t like the flavor.  I’ll figure it out one day.

There’s only been one time in my life where I had a bad bowl of soup.  When we were very young kids, I was around second grade, we lived in upper state New York.  Winters were cold and mom tried to keep ahead of three active kids who wanted to be outside all the time.  Soup was one of her mainstays for feeding us and keeping us warm.  One time, though, she was making chicken noodle soup from scratch and she scorched it.  I don’t know how, I was six, but it was a terrible smell.  It was probably the pot, because I don’t remember ever seeing that pot again.  She tried to salvage it a bit, and served it to us with our PBJs.  Totally inedible.  We each ate about half of it and said no more!  She tried to argue with us, but for once, our little kid stubbornness won out over her Irish mom/cook firmness.  Particularly after she took a taste.


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