It’s officially soup season here at our house. Although we enjoy soup year-round, it is when the chill is in the air that we truly embrace a variety of these belly-warming concoctions.
According to The History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, soup is derived “from ‘sop’ or ‘sup’ meaning the slice of bread on which broth is poured.” And, until bread was invented, “a thick soup was a concoction of grains, or of plants or meat cooking in a pot.” Further, “gruel or porridge was thus a basic food, a staple form of nourishment.”
Here in our house, it is a bit of both. But, whether it is the bread-and-broth variety, or the gruel/porridge variety, soup provides us with nourishment for the body and for the soul (Yes, I’m conjuring up the chicken soup analogy here) during these chilly months.
My childhood soup memories are varied. I was served Campbell’s chicken noodle soup for lunch, alongside buttered saltine crackers. My Dad boasted that the only thing he could make was Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup (which, I found rather tasty).
But on the other end of soup spectrum is perhaps one of my favorite soup memories of days gone by: Grandma’s chicken soup. It sat on the stove, warm and ready to eat, when we arrived for Sunday afternoons with the family. Her greasy-topped broth was filled with bits of chicken, vegetables, and small little homemade dumplings. Oh, I could almost smell it – and taste it – now.
It’s the comforting feeling that happens in our home whenever we make soup, that makes it so desirable. Yet, soup can be hit or miss when it comes to young children. Some devour it, while others can’t quite embrace the idea of their entire meal being mixed together (i.e., they are the kids who feel each food should have a separate identity until they co-mingle in the belly). As a family, we fall somewhere in between on the soup acceptance scale. Some days it’s a hit with everyone, other days, we get the “I don’t like this or that” comments from at least one child.
It doesn’t matter, I’m determined to make them all soup-loving persons, even if I have to live through a few years of complaints.
Last night, I made Chicken Tortilla Soup. It was something I had not made for the family before, but definitely a variation on Greg’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink chicken soup he always makes whenever we have the remains of a roasted chicken lying around. The simmering pot was on the stove when they returned home from school, and I immediately heard, “Oh, that smells good, what’s for dinner?” I didnt’ answer them, I let their noses do the investigating, and eventually they found themselves in the kitchen smelling the pot on the stove.
When it came to dinner, we didn’t have 100% acceptance, but I don’t care, because there are leftovers in the fridge. And we all know how good soup can be on Day 2!
Below are a few tips on how to make the most of your soups, as well as a few recipes to try.
- Make a broth every time you finish a roasted chicken
- Soup always tastes better a day or two after the are made. Make the soup ahead of time, and just reheat whenever ready to enjoy. How convenient is that?
- A good stock or broth, flavorful ingredients, and appropriate seasonings can create a tasty pot of soup.
- Take advantage of fresh, seasonal ingredients. But, canned or frozen vegetables and refrigerated leftovers are great options.
- High-quality stock is the an essential part of any soup recipe. Although not difficult to make, stock does require a couple hours of cooking time. The result is well worth the effort. Making stock also is a great way to use up items that would otherwise be thrown out, such as bones, shells, etc.
- Add a parmesan or pecorino rind to your broth when the soup is ready simmer. The rind will soften and the flavors of the cheese will infuse throughout the dish. If the rind is not completely dissolved by the time you’re ready to serve, remove it and discard – or break it into smaller pieces — and eat them!
- Add homemade croutons to your soup.
Family Eats Favorite Soup Recipes