Soup in Ten Steps

September 25th, 2010 / Comments 4

In April every radish is a treasure, in May the appearance of spinach seedlings brings joy, in June it is delightful to create a salad of tender greens, in July the garden and the kitchen are in harmony, in August tomatoes and squash are overflowing, in September, apples, pears and plums appear along with school buses, and the CSA share that seemed modest in the spring is overwhelming.

veg bounty c egbert Soup in Ten Steps

Cucumbers and parsley are turning to slime in the bottom of the fridge, tomatoes are being passed back and forth between friends like fruitcake in December, zucchini and yellow squash are nearly the size of canoes and there is a bunch of rainbow chard lurking around every corner.

Whether you call it Vegetable Overload, Squash Surplus, Garden Glut, or CSA Bounty, it is imperative to have a strategy to survive this delightful dilemma. I suggest soup. Call it Empty the Refrigerator Soup, Wilted Vegetable Soup or Garden Delight Soup but don’t delay, it’s time to start chopping, sauteing, simmering, serving and storing soup.

I have a ten-step game plan that I follow whenever I make soup. The steps are the same whether I’m making a simple, pureed broccoli soup or a hearty vegetable soup. I adjust ingredients, quantities and proportions according to the contents of my fridge, my pantry, and also include vegetables that have been left in my unlocked car by generous friends. Here’s my soup game plan:

  1. Heat oil in stockpot
  2. Saute aromatic vegetables in oil in the stockpot until tender but not browned
  3. Add meat and cook until browned
  4. Add herbs and spices
  5. Add liquid
  6. Add vegetables and simmer until tender
  7. Puree (if desired)
  8. Add additional liquid to thin soup to desired consistency
  9. Adjust seasoning
  10. Serve with appropriate garnish

The oil can be butter, olive oil, grape seed oil, vegetable oil coconut or any combination, and should just coat the bottom of the pot. Onions, leeks, garlic, scallions, shallots, carrots and celery are all aromatic vegetables and any combination will work. Meat is optional, it may be ground, or cut in small pieces or one large piece that is be sliced when the soup is served. The liquid for Step 5 can be water, broth, or stock or a combination but, because it will be simmered to cook the vegetables and meat, it should not be a dairy product. The liquid in Step 8 can include cream, milk, sour cream, yogurt, or coconut milk. In Step 9, adjusting seasoning may mean adding a bit more salt or pepper or other more exotic flavors like a bit of bourbon, orange zest, lime juice, hot sauce, etc. Garnishes may be as simple as a thin slice of lemon or as luxurious as a chunk of lobster. Raw fish or shellfish can be added for the last five minutes of Step 6. Refrigerate or freeze leftover soup for another day.

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