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Old 06-14-2006, 12:05 AM   #1
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Soups - Good place to start?

So ever since I started cooking I've thought that soups would be a nice place to start cooking, since you can basically make the entire thing in one pot and I can freeze and refidgerate them with relative ease. I also really like soup, so that was a big incentive. I've probably made about 6 different soups and none of them really been above average. I'm not sure if it's because making good soup is difficult or if I'm doing something wrong.

I've never had anyone else try my soups, so it might just be my non-confidence in my cooking or something else like that. Isn't there a saying or don't a lot of people say that food tastes better when other people cook it? That seems really familiar for some reason.

So if someone could help me on my way to better soup making, I'll....send you some Free shipping!

brad

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Old 06-14-2006, 12:20 AM   #2
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What kind of soups have you made? I find stock-based soup to be the easiest and most fun to make, though no doubt there are people out there who would disagree. You will never find me wasting a good turkey carcass after a holiday meal, for instance. Plus, stock simmering in the kitchen makes the whole house smell wonderful!

Kelly
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Old 06-14-2006, 12:35 AM   #3
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Kelly - I probably should have mentioned this earlier but all my soups have been vegetarian soups; not sure if that makes a difference.

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Old 06-14-2006, 12:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
I find stock-based soup to be the easiest and most fun to make, though no doubt there are people out there who would disagree.
Stock based soups are also quite difficult to make right. This is simply due to the fact that the stock must be of high quality if it is to taste its best (and the best stock is homemade stock).

Quote:
Kelly - I probably should have mentioned this earlier but all my soups have been vegetarian soups; not sure if that makes a difference.
Vegetarian soups do not have to taste average. Perhaps the best way to start would be to post the recipes of the soups you have made and we can go from there.
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Old 06-14-2006, 12:52 AM   #5
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Brad,

This does make a difference, but you can still make vegetable stock.
I repeat, what kind of soups have you tried?

Oh, and by vegetarian, do you mean vegan, or do you still do fish and the like? Or however that goes... I'm an omnivore, myself, with definite leanings toward carnivorism.

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Old 06-14-2006, 01:19 AM   #6
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If you don't mind seafood.. here's a great ( if I do say so myself clam chowder recipe. Enjoy.


three 10 oz cans chopped clams
1lb bacon
three cups peeled and chopped potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon thyme (some times I use parsley instead)
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all purpose flour

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
open canned clams reserving all juice
set aside

cut up bacon, removing a lot of the extra fat
in large sauce pan cook bacon until crisp. Keeping the bacon and the grease in the pan
add potatoes, clam juice, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, onions, pepper,bouillon cubes.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Combind milk, cream and flour till smooth. Add to potatoe mixture. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Stir in Clams. Return to boiling reduce heat. Cook for a few minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If soup is too thick add more milk or cream
if soup is too thin add more flour mixing with milk or cream first!

We add a tablespoon of butter to each bowl when serving ( not at all good for you
but it tastes great!!!

Add some nice frech bread and a green salad and you've got a wonderful dinner! Use small bowls so you can have seconds! As with most soups this is better the next day!
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Old 06-14-2006, 01:21 AM   #7
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And... if you don't mind trying meat...

Lentil Soup 8 cups water ( or chicken or beef broth may be used instead of or in a combo with the water)
2 cups lentils
1 medium onion chopped fine
8 cloves of garlic ( more or less is fine)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Rince lentils.
Add all ingredients ( except salt)
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes or until lentils are soft. Then add salt.

You can add ham or sausage if you wish and amounts are really all up to you. I always have extra garlic and onions in mine and sometimes celery too.

Add one tsp of vinager to each bowl at serving time.
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Old 06-14-2006, 05:02 AM   #8
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I have only ever made vegie based soups too (love my meat so not sure how that happened - have not been making soup for long) and I have been forcing it on family and friends in an effort to improve (and hoping that they
will pass on their yummy soup to me - hasn't worked so far but they want more)

Praps you could post a recipe you've use..plenty of people round here would be able to give you great feedback...not me though...i just shove it it the stockpot and hope for the best.
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Old 06-14-2006, 09:51 AM   #9
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Hey neighbor, the vegetarian soup IMO is the hardest to make to taste excellent. It takes practice. You have to play around with seasoning to accommodate your taste. Also, personally I like to add some fake chicken or beef soup powder or seasoning.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:41 AM   #10
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start with a good stock. I keep all of my extra greens and shavings in the freezer (when there's room). There are a number of other tricks that you can pick up by reading or practicing. For instance, you can change the thickness by either adding cream (do you use dairy?) cornstarch or flour, or by blending some of the chunks in the soup.

As you try different recipes, you'll also learn what you like and don't. You'll have better luck picking recipes you're going to enjoy and you'll be more prepared to adapt recipes.

I reallly enjoy soups and have about a dozen that I cook with some regularity. If you'd like, I can e-mail them. Just PM me.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:45 AM   #11
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here's one of my favorites

Gobi Ka - Gingery Cauliflower Soup

3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1" piece fresh ginger, peeled and slivered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/3" cubes
1/2 lb cauliflower florets
1 1/4 quarts chicken (or veggie) stock
2/3 cup heavy cream

Set the oil over medium-high heat in a good-sized saucepan. When hot, put in onion, and, a little later, the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry until onion is somewhat browned. Put in cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne. Stir once, put in potato, cauliflower and chicken stock. Stir and bring to boil. Cover and turn heat to low; simmer gently for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2 Put soup into a blender and blend or use a hand blender to purée. Add cream and reheat gently.
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Old 06-14-2006, 01:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggis
Perhaps the best way to start would be to post the recipes of the soups you have made and we can go from there.
Bump......

Don't forget to include the proportions and not just the ingredients.
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Old 06-14-2006, 10:11 PM   #13
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Brad, are you following recipes or are you just chunking stuff in the pot and winging it?

I agree with CharlieD whole heartedly ... vegetarian soups can be the hardest to bump up from just "flavored-water" to "WOW".
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Old 06-14-2006, 11:00 PM   #14
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agreed michael and charlie. the absence of any meat really forces you to learn about veggie/herb aromatics as a base ingredient.

i think making a pot of escarole e fagiole would be a good start, for a vegetarian soup.

since there's so few ingredients (just browned garlic, hallots or onions, chopped and wilted 'scarole in a good evoo, water, beans, and shaved parm),
each ingredient needs to be at it's best to really do it's part in the dish.
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Old 06-15-2006, 04:34 PM   #15
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I did it!

I made good soup today!! Cream of mushroom soup was the winner for the week. If my other soups have been C+/B- this soup I rated at the beginning a B+ and by the end I was convinced it was an A- soup, so it looks like I'm starting to do something right.

One thing that I think may have made the difference was how much I simmered it. Because it was a "Cream of..." soup, it needed to be at least semi-thick so I cooked it for about ten minutes after boiling it at the end. My other soups I didn't simmer even close to this long. I usually half my recipes since I cook for myself most of the time and for soups I usually get about 2-3 servings out of a recipe but for this cream of mushroom I ate one bowl and had just a little bit leftover, so I'm thinking that my long simmering toward the end really heightened the flavor.

As far as how I have been going about this, I have been following recipes in two of my recipe books. I am not nearly confident enough in my kitchen skills to just huck things into a pot/pan and start goin at it. I've probably cooked less than 20 meals in my life and 98% of them have been in the past year.

I'll post the soup recipe that I made before this cream of mushroom anyway. I'll post the cream of mush recipe too just for the heck of it.

brad
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Old 06-15-2006, 04:42 PM   #16
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"Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special." Clarkson Potter. New York. 1999.

"Cream of Mushroom Soup"

2 tablespoons butter
1 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
1 cup diced onions
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, rinced & sliced
1 tsp salt
1 sbsp fresh lemon juice
5 tbsp unbleached white flour
4 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme (1/4 tsp dried)*
freshly ground black pepper to taste


*If using dried thyme, saute it with the onions and garlic rather than adding it at the end to ensure a more even and mellow flavor.

In a soup pot on medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and saute just until golden. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, lemon juice and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are soft and have released liquid, about 7 minutes.
Sprinkle in the flour a little at a time, stirring briskly to prevent lumps. Add the water, cream, and sherry and stir well. Bring toa boil; then reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the fresh thyme and pepper to taste.

Ok let's see..I used dried thyme so I followed the directions for that. I added some at the end too just for an extra boost which I think added a lot. Instead of heavy cream I used buttermilk as I'm sure a few of you saw in the dairy section. I really didn't taste too much butteryness though, which I thought was a little strange.

Then the vegetable soup that I made two days ago was this:

"Ybor City Garbanzo Soup"

2 tbsp canola or other vege oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
pinch of thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
dash of cayenne (optional)
1 red bell pepper, seeded adn chopped into 1-inch pieces
4 cups water
4 cups cubed potatoes (about 1-inch)
1 1/2 cups drained cooked garbanzo beans (15-ounce can)
generous pinch of saffron
2 tbsp very hot water
1 tbsp white vinegar or fresh lemon juice


Combine the oil, onions and celery in a soup pot and saute on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, cumin, fennel, thyme, paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne, if using. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the water and the potatoes, cover, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
When the potatoes are tender, add the garbanzo beans. Put the saffron threads in a cup and cover with the hot water. With the back of a spoon, crush the saffron against he side of a cup for about a minute. Add the saffron and water to the soup. Swirl some of the soup broth around the inside of the cup to get every precious bit of saffron out of the cup and into the soup. Stir in the vinegar or lemon juice.
Serve Immediately.

I used lemon juice, no cayenne and I followed the recipe other than that.

Anywho I gotta get to work, pronto!

brad
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Old 06-16-2006, 04:27 PM   #17
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I've found the only way to make good vegetarian soups is to make my own vegetarian stock. My favorite for soups which will end up with a lot of ingredients & thus need only a mild stock has been made by simply boiling large mushroom caps for about 15-20 minutes. I then use the mushroom caps for stuffing & the broth for my soup.

For vegetable broths where the broth will be the mainstay or star, I like to roast the vegetables in olive oil in the oven first before using them to make broth. Really intensifies the flavor.
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Old 06-16-2006, 05:41 PM   #18
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I, as always, agree with Breezy, to make a really fine vegetarian soup you is to have a very good stock, and that can only be made at home.

Usually prefer to roast the veggies, think it gives a rich flavor.

There are soup bases you can buy, such as Minor's, but have never tried the veggie stuff.

Cannot believe it is as good as carefully home made.

But as a simple soup, and a satisfying one, you can try pasta fagiole (pasta fazool if you grew up in my neighborhood).

It is tasty.

Any vegetarian menu needs, in my opinion, more care and effort than many dishes made with meat.

And we are unabashed carnivores here.

Take care and God bless.
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Old 06-16-2006, 05:58 PM   #19
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Hmm home made stock...probably have to give that a try. That's probably one big reason that my soups have been lacking in flavor. Thanks for the tip on roasting with olive oil also.

Oh and I really don't care that people eat meat - I'm not one of those vegetarians. I'm actually not even a vegetarian yet; I'm on the road to be. I hunted and fished throughout my childhood and teen years as well. I just stopped hunting and fishing a few years ago.

brad

edit: just out of curiosity, what made you say that? If I come across with the "holy-than-thou" attitude that many people assume vegetarians have, just tell me.
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Old 06-16-2006, 07:06 PM   #20
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Phantom, take some advice from G'ma Connie. The most important thing about learning to cook is that you've gotta put your whole heart in it.

That's especially true with soups. They need time to be simmered, stirred and tasted. Many of my soups simmer on low heat for hours to get the broth just right.

I'm not a vegetarian, and would be hard-pressed to make a soup without chicken broth, a soup bone, or a bit of bacon (or bacon grease).

But I would think you'd need to go heavy with aromatic vegetables like garlic, onions, and herbs. You're going to need good oilive oil and/or butter to replace the meat fats. For protein sources, cheese, beans, peas, and lentils are good to use. Barley is also excellent in soups, and very satisfying.
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