Soup


No, that’s not a typo.  This is a guideline for how to make soup with vegetables.

To make a good soup, you need to start by slow cooking aromatic vegetables until they are soft and nicely browned.  This is even true if you are using a Crockpot or other slow cooker.  Heat 2-3 T. oil or butter in a pot and saute diced 2 C. or more of leeks or onions, and 3-4 diced carrots.  Diced celery or bell peppers are other common components.  If you are using aromatic herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme or oregano, add them as well.  Same goes for chile pepper. Use a wooden spoon to stir the vegetables over low heat until they are nicely browned.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now it’s time to add liquid ingredients: water, broth, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, etc.  For the amount of aromatics above, you will want 6 C. of liquid for a thick soup and 8 C. for a brothier one.  Bring the liquid to a boil, then simmer.  The longer you cook the soup, the more flavor the liquid will be able to absorb from the aromatics.

This is also the time to add creamy vegetables:  potatoes, cauliflower, winter squash, or sweet potatoes.  But only if they are raw.  They will absorb the flavors of the soup as they cook and gradually start to fall apart, adding texture to the broth.  2 C. of diced vegetables will add nice texture to a soup; 4 C. or more and you are making a thick soup or stew.

If you’re using lentils or split peas, they should also go into the pot now — not more than 1/2 -1 C. of dried.  However, if you are making soup with larger beans like kidneys or navy beans, it’s generally best to cook the beans separately until they are tender — they soak up lots of water while they cook.  On the other hand, if you are planning on pureeing all the beans anyway to make a creamy soup, you can throw them in now.

Once the creamy vegetables are soft, it’s time to make a decision.  If you want to thicken the soup, puree a cup or two and return to the pot.

If you are using cooked beans, add them to the soup now.

This is also the time to add the stiffer green stuff:  Green beans, broccoli, kale, cabbage, 1-2 C.  Chop them up and throw them in, then simmer for 4-10 minutes, until they are the texture you want.  Turn off the heat.

If you want to include spinach, cilantro, or fresh basil in your soup, do it now.  The heat of the soup will wilt the greens without destroying their delicate texture or flavor.

This is also the right time to add lemon juice or vinegar to your soup, if you think it needs it.  For the most part, these acids will boil off if you add them earlier in the cooking process.

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