06 April 2011

Recipes: Intuitive Soup

Image credit: Sydney Morning Herald
Just to be upfront: this isn't actually a recipe. This is more like a general guideline for soup making. I rarely follow recipes for making soup, and if I do, it's to consult a few recipes and to pick and choose the parts that I like. I prefer to make soup in my crockpot, so that I don't have to worry about burning anything stuck to the bottom. Today, I am making a batch of soup incorporating items from my fridge that needed to be used up. 

To make intuitive soup, you will need:
a large crockpot
2 quarts of broth*
2 - 3 cups chopped veggies+
1 chicken breast (optional)
2/3 cup of rice or pasta (optional)
seasonings to taste

* If you don't have broth on hand, you can easily make your own. I often boil chicken breasts with random seasonings in a pot full of water and use the broth from that to make soup or risotto. You can use only vegetables, too. Some veggies that work well are: onions, carrots, celery (not the leaves!), mushrooms. You can also skip making broth and add extra veggies to your pot of soup for added flavor. I also like to cook a chicken breast right in the crockpot, which adds flavor, too.  

I am currently on a low-sodium diet, so most bouillon options and broths from the store are out for me. I do like Vogue veggie base though, which is a vegan vegetable broth powder available at Whole Foods and probably other places, too.

+ For vegetables use: onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes, kale, escarole, spinach, butternut squash, potatoes, beans, or whatever you have on hand. Experiment! I like using a can of diced tomatoes or tomatoes with green chiles, depending on what taste I want. For my soup today, I added about 1.5 cups of shredded cabbage, because I had some in my fridge. I also added 5 small diced carrots and a can of tomatoes with green chiles. Sometimes I'll use salsa instead of the tomatoes. 

Adding rice or pasta is totally optional, but will result in a thicker, more filling soup. Pastas tend to disintegrate when the soup isn't eaten right away, so use pasta if you think you'll finish most of the soup within a day or two. I added 2/3 cup of brown rice to my soup today, which means it will take longer to cook, but since I start my soups early in the morning, it should be ready for dinner, no problem.

I generally wait to add seasonings until closer to eating the soup, so that the natural flavors can blend before I taste it. Seasoning you might want to add are: salt, pepper, cumin, basil, or thyme. Really, though, any seasonings will work. Use what you like and taste each time you add something. Other flavors you might want to add are: Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, or lemon, depending on the flavors of your soup.


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