Leaves will soon be swirling around in splashes of golden yellow, sunburst red, and candied orange in the brisk autumn air. It brings to my mind the colorful palette of squash, carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini in a hearty bowl of vegetable soup. Can you picture this pot of soup as a canvas where you can “paint” with your selection of favorite vegetables, meats, herbs, and spices? How about the flavor and texture? It can be savory, spicy, sweet, tangy, smoky or even sweet and sour at the same time. Do you like it steamy hot or refreshingly cold? Like it in a light broth, or creamy as in a chowder? Similar to an artist, your creative strokes in ingredients, flavors, and texture are limitless.
I love soups especially when there is a chill in the air. They are so rich in flavor, nourishing, and easy to make; such a comfort food. One soup that has all of these criteria is Barefoot Contessa’s Rosemary White Bean Soup. It has just four main ingredients – white cannellini beans, lots of onions, chicken stock and fresh rosemary. Who would have thought this filling creamy ivory colored soup is so simple and luscious just by cooking and then pureeing it. Another favorite is the Vietnamese Pho Soup made in a pool of rich hot beef broth with rice vermicelli or rice flat noodles, bean sprouts, shredded scallions, and cilantro. It is then topped with paper thin slices of raw beef sirloin or eye round. The steamy hot broth immediately cooks the beef slices in the bowl. To heighten the flavors even more, garnishes of mint, Thai basil, serrano chilies, and the juice from lime wedges are added. It is so versatile with your choice of meats and garnishes. So delicious I can eat several bowls!
The foundation to a good soup is the excellence of its stock. If you can’t make a homemade stock, don’t let this hold you back from making a delicious soup, There are wonderful stocks available in the markets. Have soup as a main meal with some bread or a first course to a full dinner. I like to make a big pot and have it whenever I want, especially as a snack or for lunch (even breakfast). Soups are great as leftovers because the flavors continue to deepen. Be sure to make a little bit more as most soups can be frozen. Whether you have a soup recipe with a few ingredients or one with many, at the end all who partake of it will be satisfied and say, “Ahhhh”.
Cooking Light Soup by Heather Averett
Soup, a Way of Life by Barbara Kafka
Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen by Deborah Madison
Splendid Soups by James Peterson
300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder
Ultimate Soup Cookbook by Neil Wertheimer