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Jan 30, 2008 02:46 PM

Help learning to make soup

I love soup, but am intimidating to make it. I never know what spices to combines, whether to use stock or broth, when to add crushed tomatoes. I would appreciate any help as to how to learn to make soup- any guidelines. Thanks!

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  1. My first attempt as soup was lentil and I was scared to death and followed a recipe exactly. It came out fine, but not great. Same with others when I followed exact recipes. Now I just throw whatever I can think of into a pot, make sure there's enough broth in there for it to actually be soup, and let it hang out for a few hours. Always tastes good.

    Start by using flavors you know you like together in other meals. If you like chicken and thyme, there you go. If you like beans with ham, start from there. I would strongly recommend using low sodium broth if you aren't making your own. Otherwise it will get too salty fast.

    1. Not so much advice (I'll leave that to the true experts on the boards) as much as my own experience...This winter I've been trying to learn more about fresh herbs. I'll pick a few, add some veggies and as mojo said above, "...let it hang out for a few hours." My ideas about what to throw together have come from some very casual sleuthing on various recipie sites, the produce guys at the market, and even the package of the herb I have selected. I've had some hits and yes some misses, but the process has been fun. I'm learning what goes together, what clearly does NOT, and what combinations I enjoy most. Following recipies are a great way to start, but don't hesitate to try your twist on things. I agree though, go easy on the prepared broth, the salt seems to be the most prominent flavor.

      1. Hello Learning2cook: Nothing is easier to make than soup. Make sure you have a big-enough pot---8 quarts at least. Let's start with three easy basic soups. 1) Vegetable Soup: Beef bones, onions, celery, potatoes, carrots (just one or two as they are very sweet), canned crushed or chopped-up tomatoes, salt, water. 2) Pea Soup: Ham bone, dried split peas, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, water. 3) Chicken Soup: raw chicken ( I use legs & thighs), celery, onions, salt, water; add noodles for last half-hour of cooking. Quantities: let your 8-quart soup pot be 1/3-1/2 full of solids then fill it to within about 1 inches of the top with water. Bring to boil then turn heat down so the soup simmers slowly. Keep the pan covered with the cover a bit ajar so everything won't boil over. You may have to add a little more water as time passes. After you have done this once you'll know how much water you need to get the consistency you want. Simmer the soup for 2-3 hours. Remove any bones. Correct seasoning. If you want it thicker you can either boil it down some or add a few noodles which will thicken the soup as they cook in it. If you like your soup thickish cook a couple of handfuls of dried beans in it as it cooks (limas are good in beef-vegetable). After you've cooked your soup, it will improve as it sits in the refrigerator. I store soup in big glass canning jars that I got at a thrift shop as they take up minimal shelf room in the refrigerator. If you have freezer space, soup freezes perfectly in plastic containers with tight lids.

        1. One of the first dishes I experimented with when I was learning how to cook (still learning new things to this day frankly) was Tortellini Soup. The colours are brilliant red green and white (er, off-white from the pasta) and it's really satisfying on it's own. You can sub any pasta you have on hand if you don't have tortellini, just try to keep the noodles about the same size and the quantity the same. This one from food network is pretty much it (although I don't remember onion in the old recipe):

          As for stock, I often use the low-sodium kind ...the regular ones are over-salted imho. I'll leave the advice about how to make your own stock to the experts...As for when to add crushed tomatoes... that depends I think on the type of soup you're making. The less time the tomatoes have in the broth the more pronounced their flavour will be...but they also won't have melded together with the other flavours as well. Depends on what you're looking for... Is there a specific recipe you're working on?

          1. A good place to start is with chicken soup. Use a cleaned fresh whole chicken, place in a soup pot cover it with water. The way I do it, I fill the pot, covering the chicken with water, add the aromatics, bring it to a boil, shut the heat off, cover it, and let the soup sit for one hour with the lid on.Perfectly cooked chicken that hasn't been boiled to bits.
            Once its cool remove the chicken and the aromatics (dispose them). I let the broth cool and skim the fat. Strain the broth though cheese cloth twice. Remove the skin from the chicken and gently remove as much meat from the bones. I keep dark and white meat separate in case I want to make chicken salad.
            If tell you, "use 6 qts of water, etc" since all things taste different, the soup you make might not taste right to you and because along the way when I cook, I taste, sometimes adding salt, or pepper and that's hard to quantify. Besides not all chicken is created equal. You may or may not get a a very tasty chicken.

            Aromatics for basic chicken stock & chop large because they are going to be tossed.
            1 onion
            2 carrots
            2 stalks of celery
            garlic cloves sliced in half

            For the actual soup
            1 large onion
            4 stalks of celery
            4-5 carrots
            reserve parsley
            2-3 cloves of garlic sliced
            Kosher or Sea Salt and fresh pepper (You will need more salt then I can tell you, but its usually a lot, so taste the soup.
            Chicken cut up into bite size pieces either all white or dark, or a mix.
            Wide egg noodles or small pastina, you pick.
            Put only the veggies with the broth back into the pot with the soup pot bring it to a simmer and cook until vegetables are al dente, add the chicken, and then the last few minutes add the noodles. Season and taste the soup! Toss the parsley in a few minutes before serving.
            This is such a comforting and healthy meal.

            To make a broth for Asian soups, when making the broth in the first part, instead of carrots, add ginger root a couple pieces and a little more garlic. And where you will add parsley instead add cilantro and scallions.