Sunday, May 17, 2009

The search for soup

I love a good soup. Is love too strong a word? No. Not at all. I can remember several pivotal moments in my life, moments when I have had really, really good soup. For example, the Tuscan tomato soup at The Cottage on Broad in Story City, Iowa. Or the Philly Cheesesteak soup at The Larkspur Market in New Ulm, Minnesota. Or the hearty vegetable soup I ate on a cold February afternoon at a small pub in Edinburgh, Scotland. Okay, that last one was more about where I was eating, rather than what I was eating, but it was still a pivotal soup-related experience.

And so, for quite a while now I have been on a quest for some really good soup recipes. Along the way I've had to experiment on my family, with varying degrees of success. One success story has been my chicken noodle soup, taken out of an old garage sale cookbook. One non-success story has been my beef stew. My children have decided that they hate beef stew. Put beef, potatoes, carrots and peas on a plate separately, and my kids will eat it up no problem. Put beef, potatoes, carrots and peas in a bowl with thick broth and my boys will run screaming from the kitchen. Literally. They have literally run screaming from the kitchen at the mere mention of the s-word. And this stinks, because hubby and I really like beef stew.

Last year I bought my umptieth cookbook, the Williams and Sonoma soup book. I especially liked the look of their cream of broccoli soup recipe. Last summer at the height of the broccoli season I bought half a dozen large heads of broccoli from the Hutterite colony down the road, and took the recipe for a test drive. The recipe called for pureeing the soup smooth -- I like chunks of vege in my cream soups, so I skipped that part. And the results? Truly divine. Humming-while-you-eat good. I froze the rest of the batch in individual servings and brought it to work for lunch over the wintertime. Sometimes I added some shredded cheddar cheese for a cheesey broccoli soup. Delicious.

I've also used the same recipe for cream of cauliflower soup. And last week, I used it again for cream of asparagus soup. I've got four quarts' worth in my freezer right now. I happened to be pressure canning some beef broth while I was making the soup, so I decided to see what would happen if I canned the asparagus soup, for long-term storage. Note to self -- don't try canning cream soups again. Curdled soup isn't pretty.

After I finished, I realized that not only had I made really good soup, I had made it using nearly all local and organic ingredients. The asparagus was from a farm about twenty miles away, the milk was from a dairy about ten miles away, and the broth was some that I had made at home from chickens that had been raised on the dairy. How cool is that?!

So, if you too love a good soup, give a try to making some at home. Pick your favorite soup, find a recipe, and go for it. Making homemade soup is pretty easy, and it tastes a whole lot better than stuff you buy at the store. I probably paid about $20 in ingredients (asparagus isn't cheap, but I did save money by using homemade broth) and got six quarts of soup. Okay, four quarts of edible soup and two quarts of nasty curdled stuff. But that was my mistake, not the recipe's.

I anticipate filling my freezer door with pints of soup this summer. And having lots of very yummy lunches this winter.


Karen said...

Great. Now I'm hungry for soup and what do ya wanna bet that I don't have any homemade cheesy asparagus or broccoli or cauliflower soup!!! Save some for when we come to visit!! Better yet, bring some over with ya next time you visit!!

Jo said...

I would be happy to make soup for you!! You're coming out in August, right? Prime cauliflower time. Remind me and I'll serve some when you come out. Love ya!

Karen said...

Yes!! I"ll be there!! I remember stealing some of your asparagus soup when I was at your house watching the boys! Yummy! The big benefit was that no one else wanted any, so I ate it all by myself!! Hee hee!