Ever Wondered How to Make Delicious Soup?
Have you ever wondered what makes a soup delicious? Where does the flavor come from?
You may have heard people talk about soup making as merely throwing leftovers and wilted vegetables into a big pot. But soup is more than a hodgepodge of ingredients.
A Word from the Finest Master Chef
In fact, the finest master chef of the 20th century, Augustine Escoffier, said, “Of all the items on the menu, soup is that which exacts the most delicate perfection and the strictest attention.”
As beginners, perhaps we can aim at something in the middle.
One thing is for certain, a great soup is not merely thrown together with random ingredients. It is built in flavor-layering steps.
Quality Flavor Starts Here
The first flavor layer is quality stock. It’s the foundation for delicious soup, and its job is to absorb flavors from other ingredients and carry them to the taste buds. In fact, it’s so important that if the stock isn’t delicious the entire soup will lack taste.
You can make it yourself or buy it in easy-to-use packaging. Indeed, the stock you make yourself will infuse your soups with outstanding goodness, but it’s not your only choice.
I certainly won’t fault you if you choose store-bought stock. I totally understand.
Slow Simmering Extracts an Abundance of Flavor
Stock is a flavorful liquid that adds delicious, deep taste and body to soup. It’s made by slowly simmering ingredients in water to extract their flavors.
And just as there are different types of soup, there are different types of stock. First, the main flavor relies on the meat and bones you choose to simmer. Secondly, certain combinations of herbs and spices more aptly complement the chicken, beef, or fish that you’re simmering.
That being said, many stocks only contain a few ingredients. For example, classic stock ingredients include:
- A blend of vegetables (carrots, onions, and celery)
- Bones (chicken, beef, or fish)
- Herbs and spices
Coaxing Flavor from the Brilliant Trio
Next is the second element of delicious soup. It involves coaxing maximum flavor from a blend of vegetables and herbs called aromatics.
The most common aromatic combination is mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah). It’s a mixture of 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery.
Before they are added with the rest of the soup ingredients, these vegetables are diced and heated in a small amount of oil until they soften.
As a result, this process creates tons of flavor. Yet, surprisingly, some recipes skip this step to save time.
Nevertheless, when flavor is important, this small effort yields big results in helping you create soup you’ll be proud to say you made yourself.
Enhancing the Main Ingredient
Generally, it’s the main ingredient which gives a soup its most distinct flavor, as well as its name.
Moreover, there are ways to enhance the flavor of these featured ingredients before adding them with the rest. One method to increase the overall flavor of vegetables is by roasting. Through roasting, a process called caramelization converts their sugars into something complex and delicious.
Season with Purpose
Herbs, spices, and seasonings make up the fourth element of great soup. Not only are they flavor powerhouses, they provide wonderful health and healing benefits as well.
In fact, some of the most commonly used herbs in soup are also among the most nutritionally powerful. Here are just a few: rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic, and basil.
Flavor Building in Every Step
As you see, there is flavor building in every layer of outstanding homemade soups. From slow-simmered stock to herbs, spices, and seasonings, making the most of your ingredients will help you create superb soups with amazingly rich flavor. Accordingly, these will be warm and wonderful soups to savor and proudly share with those you love.