Making a great soup at home doesn’t need to be complicated. Just follow a few basic guidelines and you’ll soon be cooking up enough soup to satisfy the whole family.
Soups are a versatile meal. Substantial soups can be turned into satisfying lunches or dinners, whereas lighter soups are more suited for first courses, or afternoon snacks. Making soup at home is not as difficult as it may seem. It’s a meal that everyone appreciates.
Although you can pick up some nutritious soups at the store, nothing quite beats the taste and satisfaction of a homemade creation. What’s more, making soups from scratch is the ideal way to use up leftover foods or ingredients that are close to the end of their shelf life. Homemade soups will also allow you to control exactly what goes in your pot. You can make it as hearty or light as the occasion calls for.
- Making Soup At Home – The Basics
- Types Of Soups
- Essential Ingredients
- The Best Equipment For Making Soup
- Extra Ingredients
- The Simple Steps To Making Soup
- Storing Soup
- The Benefits Of Homemade Soup
Making Soup At Home – The Basics
Types Of Soups
Chilled Soups are perfect for the hotter months when a steaming hot meal is just too much. Probably the most classic cold soup is Gazpacho, a classic Spanish dish that is made from raw blended ingredients that usually include onion, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, olive oil and stale bread. As there is no need to cook these ingredients you will only need a blender to make it. Other popular chilled soups include Vichyssoise, Borscht and Cold Ramen.
Hot Soups can cover a wide range of flavors, they are usually made by cooking the ingredients with some stock and then served either chunky or smooth. Popular soups include Red Lentil, French Onion, Chicken Noodle and Classic Tomato – among many others.
Broths have grown in popularity of late owing to their health benefits. Broth soups can be made from chicken, beef, fish or vegetables. They are usually made by simmering the ingredients and straining away the solids so that all that remains is liquid. This is the broth that you then consume. Each serving is usually very low in calories.
Pretty much anything goes when making a soup. You can get really creative and add your favorite ingredients, or use it as an opportunity to use up foods that are lurking at the back of the fridge. Consuming soups is also a fantastic way to eat vegetables that you might not otherwise like the taste of.
The following ingredients are handy items to have on hand enabling you to make soup when the mood takes you;
Store Cupboard Essentials
Canned Foods such as chopped tomatoes, legumes (chickpeas, blackbeans etc) and coconut milk.
Spices can make all the difference to an otherwise bland soup. It’s useful to have a wide range of dried herbs and spices on hand for many cooking needs, but spices that are particularly useful for adding to soups include chilli powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, coriander as well as curry, sea salt and black pepper.
Side Note: If you have an abundance of chili peppers you can dehydrate these using either an oven or a food dehydrator. Once dehydrated you can then grind them up into flakes or a powder to have on hand for all your cooking needs.
Oils are needed when you want to soften up some vegetables by gently frying them before cooking them. Recommended oils for this include cold-pressed virgin olive oil and and coconut oil.
Garlic appears in many soup recipes. Depending on how much you add, it can bring out a subtle aromatic flavor to many dishes. Make sure you are storing your garlic correctly for maximum shelf life.
Onions are similar to garlic in that onions add a welcome aroma to many soups.
Stock/Broth in a can or carton is a useful standby to have. Making your own isn’t hard but when time is short, a store-bought variety will be sufficient.
Chili Peppers can add a great zing to many soups without compromising on calories. A fresh chili pepper such as jalapeno and serrano are good choices for soups.
Carrots form the base of many soups and are a useful standby to have on hand. Carrots are also high in beta carotene which we all need.
Fresh herbs are best added at the end of the cooking time, or used as a garnish. Fresh herbs are really easy to grow on a kitchen windowsill if you think you will use them on a regular basis.
Ginger is one of those spices where a little goes a long way. Fresh ginger is not expensive to buy and can be easily grated into soups.
The Best Equipment For Making Soup
You don’t need expensive kitchen equipment to make a good soup at home, you will more than likely have most of the required items already. However, if you regularly consume soup you might decide it makes more sense to invest in some kitchen appliances to make soup making easier for you. We will cover some of the options for kitchen appliances later on, but as a minimum you will need the following;
- Chopping board
- Casserole dish or large saucepan
- Frying pan
- Sharp knives for chopping ingredients
- Wooden spoon
- Vegetable Peeler
- Blender (either an immersion blender, bullet style blender, food processor, or a traditional blender suited to blending large quantities)
Other Kitchen Appliances That Can Be Used For Making Soup
You may already own one of these popular appliances, many of them are versatile enough to make more than just soup so can be a worthwhile investment;
- Slow Cooker – if you like the idea of leaving your soup to cook while you are out at work, or busy doing other stuff, a slow cooker can be the perfect way to make soup. There are plenty of slow cooker soup recipes you can try, some of which will require a blender if you prefer a smooth soup finish.
- Instant Pot – You can’t have missed the hype of the Instant Pot, a multi cooker that includes a popular electric pressure cooker as well as a slow cooker function. Soup can be made using the pressure cooker mode or slow cooker.
- KitchenAid – Owing to the financial investment, a KitchenAid is for the cook who makes a lot of food from scratch. A variety of soups can be easily prepped, cooked and blended all in one machine.
- Ace Blender – From the same company that produced the above-mentioned Instant Pot is the Ace Blender which also has a soup function. Although it has only been released recently it is showing promise as a great budget version of the higher end food processors like the KitchenAid.
Brighten up a soup by adding some extra ingredients at the end;
- Croutons add a welcome crunch to soups. These can be easily made from day old bread by cutting it into small cubes and baking it for 5 to 10 minutes under a drizzle of oil. You can experiment with different types of breads as well as adding in different flavors such as parmesan, garlic, chilli etc.
- Fresh herbs make a great garnish and complement the flavor of some soups. For example, coriander is a great addition to many curried soups as well as a plain carrot variety.
- Cream is best added at the end of any soup making or you will risk it curdling. It can be stirred in or just added with a table spoon on top of the soup. You can also use whipped cream (a whipped cream dispenser can be useful for this).
The Simple Steps To Making Soup
- Heat a suitable sized pot with your choice of butter or oil.
- Add an aromatic such as onion, garlic or leek. Allow it to gently cook on a low heat until soft.
- If you are making a meat based soup, fry it off now (unless you are using leftover meat from a previous meal).
- Add any vegetables, spices, dried herbs and stock/broth.
- Allow to simmer on a low heat for the stated time in the recipe.
- Add any seasoning if required at the end.
- If using cream, add it at the end.
- Serve with rolls or crusty bread.
The great thing about making soup is that you can batch make it and easily store it for later use. You will need to use freezer safe containers – and if you can buy ones that hold the correct portion sizes for you it will be easier to divide up and store.
According to the USDA, soup can last up to 3 or 4 days in a fridge and 2 to 3 months in a freezer (if stored correctly).
The Benefits Of Homemade Soup
When you make soup at home, you enjoy the many upsides to this healthy option:
- You can control exactly what goes into the soup. Some store soups can include high levels of sugar or salt, but by making your own soup, you can use smaller amounts or even leave those ingredients out entirely.
- It can be more economical to make your own soup from scratch. Often you will be using up leftover ingredients or using food items that would otherwise be thrown out.
- You should be consuming a wider range of fresh vegetables when making soup at home. You can add in ingredients that you wouldn’t otherwise eat – it’s also a great way to get the kids to eat more vegetables without them even knowing!