Soups are useful as the main course in a casual supper; they are also a good starter for a meal because you can make them ahead.
Tip for soup success: correct the taste of soup at the end by checking for four areas of taste: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. See the entry on: Adjusting the Taste of Dishes.
The other key element of a successful soup is the mouth feel of it. This can be achieved through fat in the soup, or better still, through texture.
To give a cream or smooth soup more texture, purée only 3/4 of it.
- Add items such as pasta, rice, couscous, etc. Add rice about 20 minutes, pasta about 10 minutes, couscous about 3 minutes before it is finished;
- Add dumplings;
- Purée some of the vegetables and return to the soup;
- Add finely-ground nuts;
- Egg yolks (add some hot liquid a bit at a time to the egg yolks, then introduce it all to the soup just before the soup is done cooking);
- Cream, evaporated milk, or Greek yoghurt;
- Serve over a slice of bread, as the Florentines serve their minestrone.
If you have a few spoonfuls of mashed potato in the fridge and are making a soup, especially one that has to be puréed in the blender anyway, consider stirring the leftover mashed into the soup before you purée it. It is a wonderful thickener that can cut down on the amount of flour or cream you have to add to the soup. If this sounds odd, remember that mashed potato often contains milk and butter, which you would put into a creamed soup, anyway. If the potato part sounds weird, consider that puréed potato is used to make “Vichyssoise” or Cream of Potato soup. You can also use instant mashed potato flake.
If you are making a clear soup that you want to remain clear, and you are adding pasta or rice, cook the pasta or rice separately. Otherwise, if you don’t care or are making a soup you want thickened, cook them right in the soup, especially if the item in question is rice: why pour all the nutrients in the rice water down the drain otherwise?
Literature & Lore
The American sitcom Seinfeld introduced the character of the “Soup Nazi”, who appeared in a 1995 episode and briefly in the serie’s very final episode.
The character was based on Al Yeganeh, owner of the Soup Kitchen International (closed summers and weekends) at 259A West 55th Street in New York. Yeganeh’s rules in his shop are that you wait to line up along the counter, know what you want and have your money ready, and move to the left of the cash register once your order has been placed. Failure to follow his rules can result in his refusing to serve you. His soups are reknowned however, and it’s owing to him, and his portrayal on Seinfeld, that many Americans today know about Mulligatawny soup.
In the Seinfeld episode, the character’s name was changed to “Yev Kasem.” Though not necessarily liking the “Soup Nazi” label that sticks to him because of the Seinfeld episode, Yeganeh none the less announced plans in April 2005 to build upon the reknown that has come his way and to start a franchise of soup shops across America.
A rival soup shop called “The Soup Nutsy” has appeared in New York 10 blocks away from him.
Elaine: Do you need anything?
Kramer: Oh, a hot bowl of Mulligatawny would hit the spot.
Kramer: Yeah, it’s an Indian soup. Simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era.
Elaine: Oh. Who, the Soup Nazi?
Kramer: He’s not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. You know, most geniuses are.
- Afang Soup
- Béaltaine Caudle
- Connecticut Chowder
- Consommé Xavier
- Cullen Skink
- Manhattan Clam Chowder
- Matzo Balls
- Mulligatawny Soup
- Partan Bree
- Petite Marmite
- Rhode Island Clam Chowder
- Rocky Point Clam Chowder
- Scotch Broth
- Yang Rou Pao Mo
- Yellow Pea Soup