A Bowl for the Soul

Soup is an underrated culinary gem.  It warms your soul while satisfying your hunger—win and WIN!  I have always loved meals that could be made in one pot or pan.  Soup is at the top of my list in that category.  From the first pot of soup I created as a young adult, I was hooked.  There was a sense of pride in cooking something in a large stockpot that tasted complex and homemade.  Add a slice of crusty artisan bread or maybe a salad, and—voila, you have a complete meal!

Okay, enough “soup love.”  You get the idea.  So let’s talk about the template I use for making soup.  Keep in mind; this is one culinary creation you can easily tailor to your own taste preference.  I follow a few personal guidelines when making any homemade soup:

  1. Homemade stock is best.  If you have a little time, vegetables in your refrigerator, and leftover bones from a previous meal, you can make the most amazing stock.  The Internet has a wealth of recipes for all types of stocks. Freeze it for making the perfect soup later.  Nothing in a can or a box will taste this good. Ever.  I do use boxed stock on occasion.  I prefer using stock to broth.  There is a difference in the taste and the ingredients.
  2. Sauté your vegetables—create a fond in the pan.  Depth of flavor is important for tasty homemade soup.  “Layers of flavor” is my mantra for the soup making process.   Start your soup by sautéing vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, etc.) in a little oil or pan drippings.  Let them develop a lovely fond (the brown coating in the pan when you sauté).  When you add the liquid to deglaze the pan, magic happens.  That magic translates into amazing flavor.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be creative with the flavor profiles.  Soup recipes are quite forgiving to modification.  If you think the addition of a spice or an additional ingredient makes sense, then try it.  Add it in moderation, taste, and then add more if necessary.
  4. Finish with a brightener and a garnish.  Acids like lemon juice, lime juice, vinegars, etc. can give a flat soup a little boost.  I love fun garnishes like toasted or glazed seeds/nuts, mini-cheese toasts, and croutons.  Parsley or cilantro can give a lovely herbaceous note, too.

Before you know it, you will be creating your own soup recipes and sharing them with others.  Have fun.  Be adventurous.  Enjoy playing with your soup!

Portuguese Fish Soup

3-4 tbs. olive oil

1 cup diced carrot

1 cup diced onion

1 ½ cup diced potato

4 cloves minced garlic

2 cups chopped kale

1 ¼ cup white wine

1 can peeled tomatoes (28 oz.) pureed

1-1 ½ pounds firm white fish (Alaskan Cod) *check www.seafoodwatch.org for sustainable varieties

6 cups vegetable stock (substitute fish stock for more seafood flavor)

½ tsp Spanish smoked paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Chopped parsley and cilantro for garnish

  • Heat olive oil in a stockpot.  Add the onion and carrot.  Sauté on medium-high heat until onion is translucent—about 7-10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan.  Add the tomatoes, potatoes, and the stock.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  • Add the kale, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  Stir to incorporate.
  • Add the fish and simmer for 5 minutes until cooked through and tender.
  • Serve and garnish with the parsley and cilantro.

Portuguese Fish Soup

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