Post # 282 Soup is Good Food, really and truly

August 8, 2014 at 6:49 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 282 Soup is Good Food, really and truly

About a hundred years ago, when my brother and sister and I were still very small, we lived in upstate New York for a few years.  I loved the years we spent there, and from the moment we moved west, all I talked about was moving back east.  I made it after two decades and I was still just as entranced by the eastern sea board as when I was a little kid.  But back then, when I was little, things seemed a whole lot simpler.

There was an advertising campaign from a soup company which showed kids of various ages outside playing in the snow.  Periodically, one or another of them would holler out to their mom, “Is it soup yet?”  She would smile and shake her head no as she stood at the stove stirring something in a pot.  After a few shouts from the kids, she waved them indoors where she served them freshly made instant soup.  Two coups of water with an envelope of soup mix heated through was part of a healthy hot lunch on a cold day.  The kids raced inside to eat hot chicken soup, a sandwich or two, and a glass of milk.  Sales for that company went through the roof!  This was in the early to mid sixties when home cooking was all about convenience.  I still ask “Is it soup yet?” when I want to know if dinner is ready.

Soup

 

I love soup.  I don’t to marry it or anything, but I love soup.  Mom liked making soup; it helped stretch the food budget.  She also liked convenience so we had a lot of instant soups, canned soups, cup of soups, and the like.  We also had a lot of home made soups.  One of her favorites was one of my least favorites.  Being Irish, and being raised on a farm for much of her childhood, she was particularly fond of potato soup.  I hated it.  The only part of it I liked was the bacon bits.  Every other ingredient was off my list of things to eat.  Potatoes were icky.  Milk, yuck.  Onion?  Nuh-uh!  But in our house, if you didn’t eat what was on the table, you just didn’t eat.  So I forced it down and prayed for my favorite the next day.

My brother and I dearly loved Beans and Cornbread.  Or, as we called it, Beengs and Cornbread.  Hot, slightly salty, firm but mushy beans, chunks of ham suspended in a wonderful rich and thick broth.  And hot cornbread with melting butter on the side.  What couldn’t be better?  I made some of this earlier this week!  Dad would always break up his cornbread into the bowl and pour the soup over it.  I think it might be a generational thing because the FiL does the same thing.  I prefer the two to be completely separate from each other, each their own delectable taste treat.

Mom like making soup, but being a haphazard cook, sometimes the soup was burned.  How do you burn soup, you might ask?  You set it to a high boil, sit on the couch, open a book, and don’t move any of the chicken or vegetable for the next three hours.  Trust me.  It’ll burn.  But when she paid attention, oh my gosh, it was wonderful.  She would put a chicken in the stock pot and start it boiling.  Later, she’d take the chicken out and add a few chopped veggies.  Later, she’d pull all the meat off the chicken and add it back.  About fifteen minutes before serving it, she’d make a medium light dough with herbs in it, then spoon that into the hot broth.  By the time the dumplings for done, the whole mess tasted like it came right from cook’s heaven!  I still don’t know how she did it, but I’ve come close.

Then someone gave her a crock pot for Christmas.  Soups and stews abounded!  Perusing the grocery store shelves, I discovered there were stocks other than chicken and beef.  Who knew?  As America’s tastes changed, what was available in the markets changed.  Who remembers when miso soup starter became a staple on the store shelves?  I do!

One day, I was making a beef vegetable soup and it looked a little thin.  The flavor wasn’t as robust as I wanted.  It didn’t have any depth.  I didn’t want to add any bouillon to it because that would make it way too salty with the flavors that were already there.  So I added a can of chopped tomatoes to it.  Holy Mother of all this is Holy!  That soup took on a flavor that nearly knocked me over.  I called two or three friends just to tell them about it!

But I don’t like tomato soup.  Matter of fact, I don’t like any of the cream based soups.  Cuz I hate milk and cream, that’s why.  I’ve never liked them.  The last glass of milk I drank was in 1968.  I just decided I’d had it.  In college, a friend introduced me to a way to make a “cream” soup without any dairy product at all.  It was a Wow! moment.  She made cream of broccoli soup with flour, chicken stock, broccoli, and some seasonings.  It was a creamy, delicious delight.  Up to then, I’d added canned “cream of” soups to my soups to get a “creamy” texture, but the flavors were so terrible that I hadn’t done that in a while.  Now, I had a way to make good creamy soups.

More recently, I learned that if you cook chopped onions in oil and allow them to brown, then add stock or water and make your soup, it will take on the color of the brown onions.  The Two Fat Ladies taught me that and I’ve used that technique a lot!  Don’t use if you’re looking for a lightly colored soup, such as chicken.  It will get brown.  The browned onions add an incredible flavor to the broth.  Don’t do this with fresh garlic, though.  Browned garlic is mostly just burnt garlic and tastes terrible.

While I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been making soup!   I made vegetable beef while writing this and working around the house.  When I wrote about adding tomatoes, I added tomatoes!  When I wrote about how much I love soup, I decided to make soup!  I’m going to add noodles to it later so they don’t break down too much before serving.  As you can see from the pic below, the onion trick works!

soup 1

Enjoy your soup.

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