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, yogurt, or milk, these soups are usually creamed soups, meaning they are liquidised into a smooth creamy consistency. Non-cream based soups are usually chunky in texture. However, if pulsed in a liquidiser these soups can achieve a creamy texture, even without the addition of cream, 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!! But really, 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. Experiment with new flavours and ingredients, see how you like the combinations, the textures and just go for it.
The first step and the most important element to soup success is Broth. Make a mental note of it and know that broth is the make or break element in soup making. Therefore, 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….).
Let’s delve a bit deeper …
“Soupe” was originally used to refer to the slice of bread on which the contents of the cooking pot (potage) was poured. Pottage included unstrained vegetables, meats or fish; garnished with starches like rice, pasta, bread…etc. Soupe and Pottage are nowadays used synonymously.
Soups can be classified as CLEAR or THICK.
1. 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.
2. 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.
The 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 mak
es them super foods. If you fast all day during the month of Ramadan, soup is the ideal break-fast as it eases your digestive system 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 links to soup recipes for you to try
- Dima’s Brown Lentil Soup
- Red Lentil Soup
- Moroccan Harira
- Fresh Tomato Soup
- Vegetable Soup
- Leek & Potato Soup
- Tom Yum Kung Soup
Also check out my article: Soups and The Origin Of Restaurants, I think you will like it.
Soups are warm and comforting or cold and refreshing. However way they are prepared they kick start your appetite and play symphonies in your mouth. Make your own soups, there is no comparison to the goodness of homemade soups from scratch! Don’t worry too much, and don’t think too much either.. Just turn on the music, pic a vegetable or too and pair them with an herb or too, think of the flavour of spices, maybe you want one pungent spice, or a mix of a few spices that you know work well together. Decide on the broth (meat, chicken, fish or vegetables) and just start chopping, sauteeing, seasoning and simmering… The next thing you know, you have a heartwarming meal for your family to gather and enjoy.
On a separate note,
you know one of the things that keeps me going for hours in the kitchen is music! I love turning on the music and cooking away… I sing, dance and stir all at once, and I really enjoy this me time, even on the busiest and most hectic work days :)) I even choose the music according to mood and the cooking task I have ahead. so it will range from mellow to deep house (yes I am one of those nutters who love techno, trance and club music!!) My most favourite music though to listen to while cooking (the ones I frequently catch myself listening to when cooking) are Norah Jones, Sharbel Rohana (oriental Jazz), Hindi Zahra (indie, jazzy, swingy) and also love, love, love Lili Boniche! Thinking to add to the list of “cooking music favourites” so tell me, whose music inspires you while cooking? Let’s see if I can get some more artists into the regulars list :))