A soup may be
thick or thin, hot or cold, subtle or spicy, jellied, pureed or creamed. It may
be as clear as a glass or full of chunky bits of vegetables and meats. Some
soups derive their essential flavor from a rich stock; other depends upon water
or milk to capture the pure taste of the ingredients. Certain soups can be
cooked in 30 minutes (some do not even take cooking), but others require hours
of slow simmering and taste even better when they've been left to mellow in the
refrigerator for several days. Here are some additional points to consider in
preparing your favorite soup.
WHEN TO SERVE
to be an obligatory "soup course" in every formal meal. Today we
use soup less conventionally: soup and a sandwich often constitute lunch; a
really hearty soup can be the whole supper; a good soup can be the
centerpiece of a meal with deliberately light dishes surrounding it.
does preside as the first course, it is usually a clear, delicate soup to
stimulate the appetite, unless the courses to follow are light and demand a
rich or heavy soup at the outset.
quantity of soup that a recipe produces may vary a bit each time you make
it, depending upon the proportions of liquid in the ingredients and how long
and briskly it has been cooked.
recipes do not have to be precise: a little more or less of the ingredients
prescribed, or the addition of something new, can often be an improvement.
flexibility presents the cook with thrifty way to use leftovers: the content
of the refrigerator shelves may be even dictate what kind of soup to make.
note that any leftovers you used must seem agreeable with the distinctive
flavors of the soup. An equal amount of experience and good judgment is
required to decide both what should and what should not go into the soup or
should be cooked in a covered pot to retain flavors and nutrients, although
you may want to cover the pot only partially to reduce the soup a bit and to
intensify its taste.
better to season a soup when it is nearly done because, as it simmers, it
cooks down, any salt you may have put in is intensified.
it is a stock-based soup you are making, the salt content of the stock,
particularly if it is a canned or dehydrated variety, is apt to vary
It is so
much better to taste a soup toward the end of its cooking and let your
palate be your guide.
timid about seasoning; it may surprise you to discover how much salt is
needed to bring out the good flavor of a soup. Nothing is less appealing
than a bland soup.
are equally good hot or cold. You can sometimes make one soup serve as two
by offering it hot one day and cold the next.
thickens as they cool, and chilled soup may need to be thinned with extra
broth or cream.
stock base is rich and meaty, it may gel when refrigerated, in which case
beat well with a wire whisk.
soups, like all cold foods, require more seasoning than hot.
BINDING AND THICKENING SOUP
used with certain soups to add body and as a binder to inhibit separation
and curdling. One tablespoon of butter to one of flour is the right
proportion for every two cups of soup.
flour into the melted butter and cook for about 3 minutes over low heat;
then stir in a little of the hot soup, whisk well, cook until thick. Then
add the remaining soup; heat and stir until smooth.
are thickened with eggyolks: 1 eggyolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of milk or
cream to each cup of soup shortly before serving.
curdling, drizzle a little hot soup slowly into the eggyolks, whisking
briskly, then pour into the pot of soup, reheating slowly and stirring until
it thickens. Do not boil or the eggs will curdle.
touches are all you need to enhance the appearance and flavor of a soup ---
a sprinkling of chopped parsley, chives, dill, or other fresh herbs, for
instance, or a bundle of quickly blanched vegetables such as carrots,
turnips, broccoli stems, or scattering of a raw ones like scallions and
mushrooms; a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, chopped eggs or
nuts; a little rice or pasta for body; a hint of sherry or wine for accent;
a dollop of sour cream, a slice of lemon, some chopped, cooked chicken, or a
few crisp pork craps added to each bowl at the last minute --- these are all
fine finishing touches and are suggested in specific recipes when they seem