Fall undoubtedly is the kickoff for soup season for many people. Millions of people around the country eat soup in the fall, whether they make it at home or eat it while dining out.
According to Ryan Fichter, executive chef of Thunder Burger in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Georgetown, “Great tasting soups are within reach for everyone to make. It may just take a few extra steps to make it happen.”
Here are five tips from Fichter, along with one of his own recipes, that will put you on your way to making amazing soups.
1. Start right. The soup base, or stock, is a big part of the equation when it comes to having a great-tasting soup. Pay close attention to the base, so it gets off to a good start. Homemade base is usually the best first choice. If that’s not an option, choose a stock that does not have MSG.
2. Mind the pasta. If you are going to have pasta in your soup, be sure to cook it before adding it in. Many people skip this step, and it can throw off their whole recipe. Pasta should only be added to the soup once it’s been cooked separately.
3. Go fresh. When it comes to any of the ingredients going into your soup, fresh is the best option. Any time fresh ingredients can be used, they should be. If fresh is not an option, then go for frozen, before opting for canned.
4. Cook well. Using the right kitchen tools is important to a tasty soup. Some people prefer to use a slow cooker, which is fine. If you will be using a pot, choose one that is large and heavy. Also, an immersion blender can be helpful when preparing soup.
5. Serve right. Enhance the soup’s presentation by using a garnish. Also, most people prefer to have something with their soup, so choose the right addition, such as crackers, biscuits, muffins, bread, or breadsticks.
Creamy Potato Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1½ pounds potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
4 cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1½ cups heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes.
Add potatoes, chicken stock, allspice, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
With an immersion blender puree soup in blender until smooth.
Add cream and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.