Archive for December 2nd, 2010

Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

When do you make soup?

When the temperature drops, I make soup. When my budget shrinks, I make soup. When I want to treat friends to a casual meal, I make soup. When my fridge and pantry is full of odds and ends, I make soup. When my wallet is bulging with bucks, I make seafood chowder. It's been a while!

I make a lot of soup.

What is it that makes soup so comforting? Eating soup is like getting a hug from mom. It can be down-home or uptown and you can eat it with a spoon. It warms you up when you're cold and lifts your spirits when you're down.

According to food historians, our present day restaurant industry is believed to be based on soup. Restoratifs (where we get our word 'restaurant') were the first items served in the public restaurants in 18th century Paris. Many of the soothing soups we know today such as broth, bouillon and consomme were created during this time period.

I like to keep the pantry and fridge stocked with soup fixings, so I can just cook up a big pot whenever it strikes me. There's nothing worse than having the sniffles and thinking, "If I had some noodles, I could make chicken noodle soup, if I had some chicken."

Like a good Girl Scout, I prefer to Be Prepared. Some staples I like to keep on hand for a quick and easy soup meal:

  • Stock – beef, chicken or vegetable ( try to buy high quality stock; I find the cartons to be better quality than canned). If you have the time, make your own.
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Rice, pasta, barley
  • Canned beans and dried beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Frozen tortellini
  • Baby spinach
  • Onions, celery, carrots
  • Ham hocks in the freezer
  • Potatoes

My go-to dish for holiday gatherings? You guessed it. Soup. 

A big cast iron pot of hearty peasant-style soup simmering on the stove, and a batch of cornbread coming out of the oven, is a great way to say 'welcome.' When I want to dress things up a little, I pour the soup into a pottery tureen (my idea of dressy) and place it at the center of the buffet, surrounded by small bowls of add-ons, so guests can create their own 'signature' soup. If I'm serving the soup as a side, I ladle portions into espresso cups so people can sip. No matter what the occasion, I've never failed to please people when I serve soup.

So for the next few days, I'll be serving up some recipes for soup here at The Shared Table. Tomorrow: Tomato Celery.

Till then, enjoy Lewis Carroll's ode to soup:

BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green, 
Waiting in a hot tureen! 
Who for such dainties would not stoop? 
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup! 
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau–ootiful Soo-oop! 
Beau–ootiful Soo-oop! 
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening, 
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish, 
Game, or any other dish? 
Who would not give all else for two 
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup? 
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau–ootiful Soo-oop! 
Beau–ootiful Soo-oop! 
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening, 
Beautiful, beauti–FUL SOUP! 

The Last Course: "A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate"

Proverbs 15:17 New Living Translation