Soups can be a great way to warm up on those cold winter nights, or they can be served cold to cool you on hot, hazy summer days. They are versatile in that they can be served as an appetizer, to augment a salad, or sandwich, or can be the main course. Soups can be made form just about any ingredient from meats to vegetables to fruits to rains to dairy products. I’ve even seen a recipe for Garlic Soup, with garlic being the main ingredient!
Soups can be classified according to the liquid base they use. The following groups are:
Stock or broth: The liquid results from the extraction of meat, fish, and/or vegetables with water. Brown stock is prepared from beef, while white stock is prepared from chicken or veal.
Cream soups: They are a mixture of a thin white sauce and mashed or strained vegetables, meat or fish. Some stock may be used in the white sauce.
Bisques: Use a mixture of chopped shellfish, broth, milk, and seasonings. They are usually thickened.
Purees: They are a thick soup made by pressing cooked vegetables or fish through a sieve into their own stock. Those made with milk are similar to cream soups but are much thicker.
Chowders: They are much like an unstrained stew made of meat, fish, or vegetables with milk, salt pork, and various seasonings. Crackers are generally added just before serving.
No matter what you use as the base to your soup, begin with low fat products to make it just a little healthier as well as nutritious. Use ground turkey instead of ground beef or fat-free luncheon meats rather than ham hocks.
Try using plain yogurt or skim milk when a dairy product is needed. Use fresh fruits or vegetables whenever possible to give it that fresh-from-the-garden taste.
Try different grains such as rice, barley, noodles, or dumplings to different consistencies. Experiment with different seasonings other than salt to give interesting and unique flavors. Curry and thyme are two of my favorite seasonings to use.
Another tip for lowering the fat content of a soup is to refrigerate prior to serving and skim the hardened fat right off the top. If time is of the essence, try using a skimmer or using paper towels to soak up the fat that has risen to the top.