Making tasty, healthy soup is easy. Many people think you need to buy or make stock, simmer or boil the mixture for hours on end and finally pray you end up with something that tastes a little better then boiled water.
The fact of the matter is soup doesn’t need to be a hit or miss affair, with a few simple steps, you can be on your way to making fast, healthy and affordable soups.
1. Pull Out Your Skillet
Get rid of your soup cauldron and bring out your skillet. You’re going to need a fairly large one, with deep sides, and if you don’t happen to have one around, you can purchase one from any big box or specialty store for around $25.
2. Get Used to Simmering
They key to making a good soup starts right at the beginning Instead of adding a ton of liquid, then the vegetables and letting it simmer for hours, what you want to do is let your ingredients simmer for a dozen or so minutes before a you add the liquid. Lets take a look at how to go about doing that.
3. Discover your Preferred Spices
First step is putting some olive oil on the skillet and heating it for a few minutes over high heat. After you’ve gotten the oil hot enough add some spices (I’m a big fan of oregano and basil). As the spices brown, you’ll want to add in some garlic and onions. Make sure both the garlic and the onions are finely cut, this ensures more flavor is released. The spices having released allot of their flavor into the oil, the garlic and onions will combine to make a savory base for the vegetables to come. This is also an important step because you’ll be able to smell what the base of your soup will taste like, allowing you to make some last minutes adjustments.
4. Get your Base in Order
After you’ve got the above mix simmering along, got ahead and add your heavier vegies. I’m a big fan of potatoes and carrots for this phase. Carrots add allot of flavor on their own and potatoes absorb allot of the spices and garlic to make them very tasty. At this point you’ll want to add some salt and pepper. Let the those vegies simmer for a at least ten minutes.
Make sure they never start to brown. You can do this by occasionally mixing them and ensuring that the heat isn’t too hot, and in fact for this phase (depending on your stove) I would recommend medium. Make sure not to skimp on this phase, it’s important to have a decent amount of heavy vegetables or else you’re soup runs the risk of being far too thin.
5. Find some Extra Flavor
When the heavier vegies have been simmering for at least ten minutes, go ahead and add lighter ones. Celery is handy here. After they have been in there for a few minutes, go ahead and add what is by far the most crucial part of a good soup, tomatoes. Canned are fine, but you should definitely try whole, ripe tomatoes at least once, you’ll notice the difference. Cut them into smallish pieces and add them in. Remember that what should guide your choice here is what kind of vegetables will complement your spices and base vegies. I recommend experimenting and following your instincts, odds are you’ll end up a flavorful combination.
6. Pulling it all Together
After another few minutes add in some water, enough to go at least an inch on top of the contents. Unlike other soups, you don’t have to use stock for this. In fact each time I’ve used this method I’ve added only water. The flavor of what you’ve got in there is powerful enough to make sure the water mixes well. Let that mix simmer for a good 30 minutes, make sure to stir from time to time.
At the end you should have some fantastic soup ready to be served. Soups like this are also handy because they happen to taste better after having been left in the fridge for a day or so. You may also want to season it a bit before serving.
7. Enjoy Your (not too hard) Work
That’s really all there is to it, you can simply and quickly whip up some great testing soup that is not only affordable but a healthy alternative to your standard meal fare. The most important to remember is that allot of cooking from scratch looks daunting, but once you’ve done it at least once it gets far simpler.