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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Understanding Soups

Soups are liquid preparations that are made through simmering vegetables in flavoured broths or stocks. Soups can include meats, grains, pulses, pastas and a variety of vegetables. It can be made of one vegetable or any grouping of the earlier mentioned ingredients. Herbs and spices can be used for flavouring soups. Some soups include dairy products such as cream, yoghurt, or milk, these soups are usually creamed soups, meaning they are liquidised into a smooth creamy consistency. Non-cream based soups are usually chuncky in texture. However, if pulsed in a liquidiser these soups can achieve a creamy texture, such as potato soup, or carrot soup...etc.

A lot of people panic when it comes to making soups. Some would not even attempt making a soup from scratch!! Soups are simple, super easy and can be a lot of fun. There is no limit to what you can do with soups, the combinations you can go for are endless. Try out new flavours and ingredients, see how you like the combinations, the texture and go for it. The first step to soups and the most important element to soup success is Broth. Always use a good broth in making your soup, it makes all the difference! If the broth is good enough to have on its own, then just think of what it can do when layered with flavours through the use of the other ingredients (vegetables, meats, grains, legumes, herbs, spices....).

'Soupe' was originally used to refer to the slice of bread on which the contents of the cooking pot (potage) was poured. Potage included unstrained vegetables, meats or fish; garnished with starches like rice, pasta, bread...etc. Soupe and Potage are nowadays used synonymously. 
Soups can be classified as CLEAR or THICK.
Clear Soups  
like Consommé or Bouillon
This is a meat, poultry or fish broth served hot or cold as a soup course, generally at dinner, at the beginning of meals. Consommés may be thickened by using arrowroot or with egg yolks and cream to make for a richer soup.
  • Consommé can be used as a rich stock and the basis for other, more complicated soups or dishes. Other ingredients may be added to consommé such as meats, vegetables,  poached eggs, grated cheese,  croutons....etc
  • True Consommé is clarified  broth achieved by careful preparation, without stirring or boiling rapidly, and by boiling with egg whites before straining. 
  • Double Consommé is a reduced full-flavour clarified broth.
  • Cold Consommés are usually refrigerated 1-2 hours before serving. They may be lightly jellied and served diced as a savoury jelly.

Thick Soups
Thick soups are divided according to the type of thickening used.
  •  PUREE SOUPS vegetable soups thickened with the starch of the puréed vegetables.
  •  BISQUES made with puréed shellfish, usually enriched with cream.
  •  CREAM SOUPS thickened with béchamel sauce or roux, enriched with milk and / or cream.
  •  VELOUTE SOUP  thickened with egg yolk, butter and cream.
There are also broths thickened with arrowroot, rice or tapioca.

Health Benefits
Soups are nutritious and good for your body. The use of vegetables provides your body with essential minerals and vitamins, and at times proteins. A soup can be a full and well balanced meal on its own, providing you with all 5 food types. They are re-hydrating for your body and can be filling, which makes them super foods. If you fast all day during the month of Ramadan, soup is the ideal break-fast as it eases your digestive systemme into taking in other foods....

In the course of a meal
Soups are usually served as appetisers, and at time as Amuse Bouche. They kick start your appetite, offering intense flavours and warming you up, paving the way for the rest of the meal. They can however be served as a full meal on their own.

Here are some soup recipes for you to try
Soups are warms, comforting or cold and refreshing. However way they are prepared they are kick start your appetite and play symphonies in your mouth. Make your own soups, there is no comparison to the goodness of home-made soups from scratch! I hope you found the information useful, and that you will start making your own soups. Leave me a comment and let me know if that is true :)