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Homemade Soups: Warming And Hearty

Red Pea Soup with Teardrop Dumplings. Photo courtesy of The Art of Caribbean Cooking.

Homemade Soups: Warming And Hearty

By Chef Selwyn Richards
PRIDE Culinary Columnist

Chef Selwyn RichardsIn many areas of the world soup is considered to be the main meal of the day. Most homemade soups are made without any recipes, using only cooking skills that have been passed down through the generations and concocted within imaginations. Market produce, home grown vegetables, herbs and leftovers find their way into some of the best soups.

Soup for the Soul
Soup is pure comfort food that warms your body and heart. It is simple to make and fun to eat. Just ask any child who slurps from the spoon at the dinner table how much fun it can be. This hearty dish fills you up yet, is easy on the tummy because it’s so easy to digest.

How Did Soup Start Anyway?
Soup is believed to have come from the word “sop.” This term means to pour a rich warm broth over a slice of bread. Bread is a main staple in many homes and goes perfect as a complement to soup. Torn bread, a crusty loaf of bread and even croutons find their way into soup bowls all over the world.

There’s Nothing Quite Like a Bowl of Homemade Soup
In this day and age homemade soups have taken a back burner in many homes. With the readymade convenience of canned soups many have forgotten just how warming and comforting a good bowl of soup made from scratch can be.

Soup is an extremely versatile dish because it can include just about any ingredient you’ve got on hand. Vegetables, chicken, beef, pork, fish and even fruits can be placed in a soup pot with the end result being a delicious meal.

Depending on the ingredients, soup can be a hearty chunky concoction served in rustic style or a silky, creamy dish fit for even the most refined setting. Hot or cold the possibilities for soup creations are endless.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Homemade Soup

A good soup has a strong and hearty flavor. Ingredients such as garlic, tomatoes or onions can give flavor to a simply prepared soup. These types of ingredients will give any type of liquid you add to your soup the best flavor and appeal.

Another way to enhance the flavor of your soup is by using a well flavored stock. Stocks are made by using raw vegetables, meats or fish. Place the ingredients into a stock pot with water and allow them to simmer until the liquid becomes infused with the hearty flavors.

Once the stock has simmered, strain it well and use it as the base liquid for homemade soup. Stocks are best when made in large amounts and frozen for later use. This not only saves money, but time too because you don’t have to wait for the stock to be prepared before you begin putting together the soup itself.

Water is always acceptable in place of stock when making homemade soup. Just remember when you use water the soup will have less of an infusion of flavor and less body. That doesn’t mean your soup will be bland and boring. Simply, create the flavor you’re looking for with herbs and spices.

Wondering how much stock to use for a pot of soup? Using 8 ounces of stock per person will prove to be the perfect amount.

How To Remove The Fat From Soups
Remove the fat from homemade soups by tossing in four ice cubes.  The fat will congeal around the ice, which can then be removed. This will cool the soup, so you may need to reheat after completing the process.

Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: selwyn@theartofcatering.com or by phone — (905) 619-1059.

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