Basic Soup Techniques

Fresh homemade soups are a menu essential. There is no better way to ‘clean up’ the loose ends at your restaurant or even at home. Whether it’s leftover prime rib end cuts or the one or two specials that you just couldn’t ‘sell out’ – soup is the perfect solution. I once heard a sous chef say, “Anything can be soup” and I agreed.

Traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear broth soups and thickened, hearty soups. The traditional classifications of clear soups are ‘boullion’ and ‘consommé’. Thick soups are grouped by the type of thickening agent used. Purées areclear broth soup and creamy style soup vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques, chowders and ‘cream of’ soups are made from poultry, beef, seafood or vegetables thickened with flour roux and cream . Creamy soups may be thickened with either the roux or cornstarch methods.

Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include rice, lentils, pasta and grains such as barley and wheat. These items contain flours and natural starches that are released when cooked.

Tips For Perfect Soups

You can create a richly flavored and full bodied stock from chicken, turkey or beef bones by adding them to a stock pot simmering soup stock potand topping them off with water. Cover the pot and simmer at a medium high heat until the bones begin to break apart. This will release the natural gelatins inside the bones. Reduce the stock by half and this will give you a broth that is slightly thickened and will coat a spoon. Strain away any remaining bones and you will have a healthy beginning to delicious soups.

Keep a selection of “soup bases” on hand. There is a wide variety of flavor enhancers that are taylor made for the type of soup you are preparing. Selections range from a bold beef, vegetable or chicken base to fresh lobster & seafood bases.

Always use the proper herbs and spices for your recipes. Avoid a ‘heavy hand’ when adding flavors to your soups and sauces. Always remember that you can always add more seasonings while you are cooking but you can’t take any out.

Clear soups can be frozen and stored for several  months. Freezing of soups containing cream products is not recommended.

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