Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Art of Soup Making

On The Menu

Ok mom, it’s that time of the year again.   We need to make our soups now and freeze them, just in case we get sick, so some will be ready when we need it.
Angelique when is the last time that either one of us has been sick let alone sick at the same time?  Haven’t you been listening to me all these years “moms don’t catch things from their children”!
Yeah but what about us innocent kids who catch things from our moms or did you forget last year when everyone at your job had the cooties, and you bought them home to me.
Last year we had a flu epidemic, and you only had 2 or 3 days of a runny nose and scratchy throat.  Most folks were out 5 days, and they had two bouts of the flu.   So you came out lucky.
That’s only because I was saved by my famous split pea soup.  I know that chicken soup is supposed to be the cure for colds and flu, but my mom cannot make a good chicken noodle soup, and canned soup is out of the question.  So I had to settle for the next best thing.
You know, I don’t have any idea why I can’t make a good chicken noodle soup.  I follow all the rules, roast/boil chicken and bones until the collagen is released layer the seasoning, skim the fat.   You name it, I do it.
Maybe it’s not meant to be or you just haven’t mastered the art of soup making.  Just like baking is a science, maybe soup making is an art too.
You just hit the nail on the head, Ange.  No one has ever referred to soup making as an art.  In reality, it really is.  To make a good soup, you don’t just throw all the ingredients in a pot and let it cook.                           
Yep, when you make your vegetable soup, you sauteé some of the vegetables with seasoning before you add it in the soup. And it gives the soup a completely different taste.                                                                                                                                            
That technique is called layering the flavors. We do not use any canned stocks/broths, bullion cubes or any products that contain msg in any of our dishes.  As a matter of fact, bullion cubes and msg should be eliminated from everyone’s diet.
Instead we use herbs and spices both fresh and dry; bay leaves, carrots, celery onion, garlic and peppers. Topped of with a little sea salt.  These all serve to make a very tasty and low sodium and fat soup base.
When we make creamy soups like potato leek or butternut squash, we use carrots/potatoes instead of milk/cream to get the creamy texture, eliminating all the unnecessary fat and calories.
Soups can be a meal in itself.  It comes in handy when you’re in a pinch and need a quick meal.  Make large batches and freeze it.
Since the holiday is near, I’m going to give you the recipes for our favorite holiday soups which is Roasted Butternut Squash and Angelique’s anytime favorite fennel flavored Split Pea soup.
Take note that these soups are great for folks on special needs diets.  They are low in sodium, sugars and fats.  By using all fresh ingredients; you are the one in control over the sodium, sugar and fat contents.  Keep in mind, that all fruits and vegetables contain some amounts of sodium/sugar.
Ange has the best split pea soup I've ever tasted.  Yes, even those who don't like it, will love her recipe.  
Well, I got the recipe from you.
No.  You took my recipe, made it your own and improved it substantially.  That is what I encourage everyone to do.  My recipes are just an outline.  Make it your own.  

Soulful Eating               
Angelique and Joyce

 Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Yields 8 - 10 servings

4 pounds butternut squash
1 jumbo sweet potato
1 tablespoon sea salt – Divided
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup olive oil – Divided
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice mix
1 gallon Vegetable Broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Slice squash lengthwise and remove seeds
  • Wash sweet potato and cut in half lengthwise
  • Brush the inside of the potato & squash lightly with olive oil then sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and garlic powder
  • Bake in oven 45 minutes or until tender.  The potato will get done before the squash, so remove it when it’s done
  • Once they are cool enough to handle, remove skin from the potato and scoop the squash out of its skin with a tablespoon.  Mash both the potato and squash with a potato masher
  • Add vegetable broth to a large stockpot and place over medium heat
  • Add mashed vegetables to the broth
  • Sprinkle in the remaining salt, coriander and pumpkin spice then mix thoroughly
  • Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Cook uncovered 30 - 45 minutes or until soup thickens, stirring occasionally
  • If you have an immersion blender (hand blender), puree the soup in the pot. 
  • If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender and puree; then return it to the pot.
  • Check for seasoning and add pumpkin spice/salt – ½ teaspoon at a time if needed
  • Bring the soup back up to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.
  • Continue cooking uncovered an additional 15 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness.  Keep in mind that once the soup sets, it will become twice as thick.
Split Pea Soup
Yield 6 - 8 Servings
3 quarts water
1 large bay leaf
1 pound split peas
1 large potato, peeled, quartered
1 large carrot, sliced
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ground fennel (cumin or rosemary)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Roughly cut potatoes and carrots because they will be pureed
In a large stockpot, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil then lower heat to medium low and cover. 
Cook for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until everything is soft; when soup is done, remove the bay leaf.
Remove pot from the heat; if you have an immersion blender (hand wand) puree soup in the pot.
If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer soup in batches to a food processor or blender and puree, then return soup to the pot. 
Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Continue cooking uncovered an additional 15 minutes or until the soup reaches the desired thickness.  Keep in mind that once the soup sets, it will become twice as thick.

Basic Vegetable Broth
Yields 1 gallon
5 quarts of water
2 – 3 large bay leaves
2 large carrots cut in thirds
1 large sweet potato with skin, quartered
1 large granny smith apple, cored, quartered
2 large stalks celery with leaves cut in thirds
1 bunch of scallions/green onions

If you want a richer hardy flavored broth, add – ½ pound dried shiitake mushrooms (get them from an Asian market)
Place all ingredients in a stockpot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered 45 minutes.  Let broth cool for 1 – 2 hours before straining.   Broth can be divided and frozen for up to 6 months for future use.

Additional Notes:
  1. Put the dry herbs and seasonings in at the beginning of the cooking process and the fresh in towards the middle to end.
  2. Use both fresh and dry of the same seasonings i.e. onion powder and diced onions, garlic powder and garlic cloves, etc.
  3. Sauté the aromatics like celery, onions, peppers and garlic in a little oil with a pinch or two of salt
  4. If using fresh leaf herbs like parsley, basil and cilantro, etc add them at the end of the cooking period.  You get the full flavor of the herbs when the heat carryover from the cooking process cooks them. 
  5. Use vegetable broth (homemade) as the base of all your soups; it cuts down the sodium, fats and calories, just to name a few.
  6. If you don’t have any vegetable broth on hand, just add 2 – 3 large bay leaves to your water and build the flavor from there like we did with the split pea soup.

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