The Fundamentals of a Good Soup

A good soup is one of my favorites. Let's talk basics. To get a soup right I think there are a few fundamentals everyone should follow.

  • Start soups by sauteing vegetables in oil. Onion, celery, carrots and garlic for more traditional soups. Garlic, ginger and green onion for Asian soups. Or whatever suits your dish!
  • Salt and pepper. Use more than you think and taste as you go.
  • Immersion blender. Get one. They are cheap, easy to clean, and give you the option to make smooth and creamy soups.
  • Good broth. Soups are generally composed with a significant amount of broth. Make your own. It's so easy and mass amounts can be stored in the freezer. If you buy it, be sure to buy low sodium so you can add your own salt. Also, make sure there's no high fructose corn syrup in the brand you buy. Gross.
  • Patience. Let flavors cook slowly and come together. It takes time. Not always, but usually. 
  • Take care of each ingredient. Making a soup with pork or beef? Brown the meat in the bottom of the pot first. Throwing everything in a pot of boiling broth won't give you your best results.
  • Dried ingredients. When dried ingredients rehydrate, they release flavor into the broth. Stock up on some dried mushrooms, peppers, garlic, onion, etc. If not for the soup, use in your broth. 
Here are a few tips and substitutions for this awesome creamy broccoli soup. First, if you want to make this vegetarian just use veggie broth as a substitute. For the cheeses, if you only have parmesan just use 1 cup rather than also using hard gouda. I always make a point to have some parmesan in the freezer. Buying the big hunks of it saves money and ensures you always have some in the freezer! And bonus, keep the rinds frozen once you finish the cheese. Add to soups and stocks for added flavor. Thanks to Merrill Stubbs for the inspiration on Food52.

Creamy Lemon Broccoli Soup (Hold the Cream)
makes 4-6 bowls

2 crowns broccoli
1 yellow onion (diced)
5 cloves garlic (minced)
2 stalks celery + some leaves (diced)
6 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup parmesan + 1/2 cup aged hard gouda (grated)
1 parmesan rind (optional)
1/2 lemon (juice)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
olive oil

Get out one soup pot for this meal. That's all you'll need. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and celery. Let cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and let cook for 3 minutes.

The recipe calls for 2 crowns broccoli. I mean 2 bundles or packages from the store. Trim the bottom of the crown, but keep most of the stalk. Cut the stalks into coins and the head into florets. Drop into the pot and toss around in the oil to coat. If you have a parmesan rind, drop it in with the broccoli. Turn heat down as low as it will go. Cover and let the broccoli cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.

After an hour, add the broth and a tbsp of salt and some pepper. Bring up to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer for 20 minutes covered.

Turn off heat. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to about 80%. Leave some chunks. With the heat still off, squeeze in lemon juice and stir in grated cheese. There you have it. No cream required for a really flavorful and creamy soup.

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