What more perfect comfort food is there for this time of year than soup? Millions of people around the country eat soup in the fall and winter months, whether they make it at home or eat it while dining out. Those making homemade soup recipes are often in search of the perfect way to make theirs taste every bit as good as those they eat while dining out. With some attention paid to detail, they too can have satisfying, delicious soups.
“People are often intimidated when it comes to making tasty soups, but it’s not nearly as challenging as it may seem,” explains Ryan Fichter, Executive Chef of Thunder Burger. “Great tasting soups are within reach for everyone to make. It may just take a few extra steps to make it happen.”
Here are 5 tips for making a hearty, delicious soup:
- Start right. The soup base, or stock, is a big part of the equation when it comes to having a great-tasting soup. Pay close attention to the base, so it gets off to a good start. Homemade base is usually the best first choice. If that’s not an option, choose a stock that does not have MSG.
- Mind the pasta. If you are going to have pasta in your soup, be sure to cook it before adding it in. Many people skip this step, and it can throw off their whole recipe. Pasta should only be added to the soup once it’s been cooked separately.
- Go fresh. When it comes to any of the ingredients going into your soup, fresh is the best option. Any time fresh ingredients can be used, they should be. If fresh is not an option, then go for frozen, before opting for canned.
- Cook well. Using the right kitchen tools is important to a tasty soup. Some people prefer to use a slow cooker, which is fine. If you will be using a pot, choose one that is large and heavy. Also, an immersion blender can be helpful when preparing soup.
- Serve right. Enhance the soup’s presentation by using a garnish. Also, most people prefer to have something with their soup, so choose the right addition, such as crackers, biscuits, muffins, bread, or breadsticks.
“One of the great things about soup is that it is so versatile,” added Fichter. “Soup can be a great appetizer, side dish, or even a main course. Leftovers also heat up well for lunch, the next day. With soups, you just can’t go wrong.”
Try these fall soup recipes by Chef Fichter:
Creamy Potato Soup Recipe
- 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 small celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
- 1 large garlic clove, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds of Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
2. Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, allspice, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
3. With an immersion blender puree soup in blender until smooth.
4. Add cream and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.
Split Pea Soup Recipe
- 1 lb (2 1/4 cups) green split peas
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, halved
- 1 herb bouquet*
- 1 ham hocks
- Salt and Pepper
*Herb Bouquet: Tie 3 cloves garlic, 4 allspice berries, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 8 sprigs parsley in rinsed cheesecloth or place in bouquet garni muslin bag.
**To make toasted croutons, take 2 or 3 slices of day-old French or Italian loaf bread, cut into cubes. Let dry out a bit (can put in 200 degree oven for 10 minutes to help dry). Melt a tablespoon or two of butter on medium high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the bread cubes, spread out in a single layer. Let toast on one side and then turn to other sides. Add more butter if necessary. Alternatively you can toss the cubed bread with olive oil and let toast in a 350°F oven until lightly browned.
1. Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables, herb bouquet, ham hocks and 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Skim the scum off the top of the soup for several minutes, until the scum ceases to rise. Cover loosely and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they stick to the bottom of the pan.
2. Remove the ham hocks and herb bouquet from the soup. Purée the soup with a blender. An immersion blender works great for this; if you are using a regular blender, take care to working batches and only fill the blender halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending. If you want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the purée through a sieve.
3. Return the purée to the pot and heat to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with croutons and parsley or chives.
If you want, don’t discard the ham hocks, but cut away the outer skin and remove the meat from the bones. Dice the meat and serve with the soup.
Yield: Makes 2 quarts. Serves 6.