I was trying to ‘mix-up’ my soup making and decided that taking what was at hand and ‘repurposing’ it was the solution. Using this method you can enhance and ‘disguise’ vegetables in addition to making them nutritious and delicious!
This is a method that you can use to make a soup base that can be frozen in small batches, then thawed and you add new fresh ingredients to make it new and unique, each time.
The basic technique is this: You take whatever vegetables and herbs are at hand and simmer them in a stock; veg or meat. You highly season this base, far more than you would if you were going to eat it as is. You also leave it a bit on the thick side, as you will be adding more liquid when it is actually served. Another thing: you are going to puree this base, so you do not have to make the vegetable pieces the ‘correct eating size.’ Just get ’em washed, peeled and chopped and in the pot they go!
If you want to go the extra mile, prep your veggies in advance and use the tops, peels, etc to make your stock.
You simmer this concoction for a couple of hours; just make sure the longest cooking vegetables are done through before you shut off the fire. (In my case, the cores of the parsnips.) Think of this as a stock pot where you only simmer for a few hours and will be pureeing all after cooking.
Since this is October in the Pacific Northwest, we have an abundance from the garden, but only 5 or 6 ingredients are still OK. My batch today consisted of the following, you can use this as a guide: (items in bold came fresh from our garden.) It’s also a good way to use up odds and ends that are too small to use any other way; ie, one broccoli stalk, 1/4 of a red onion that is screaming “use me, please!”
Broccoli stalks, the flower tops were eaten previously.
Red Bell Peppers
Green Bell Peppers
Red Chard with stalks
Italian parsley, stems and all
Cilentro, stems and all
Cooked pinto beans, white beans would work, too. I would stay away from black beans.
Chicken Stock to cover
(In my 11/18/13 batch, I also added frozen tomatoes and frozen bell pepper strips.)
And for the Seasonings:
Bay leaves, chopped jalapenos, cumin, salt, pepper, turmic, chili powder, sesame oil, soy sauce, Mrs. Dash Original.
I like whole bay leaves. Be sure to count them when adding, then remove them ALL before blending. (This is a trick I learned in commercial kitchens: Always COUNT the bay leaves!) If you select whole leaves, they will not fall apart and be easier to identify when extracting.
Cook this down and let cool. Then run through a food processor or blender until it is smooth. Freeze in small containers or use right away. Lots of carrots mean a more orange soup base, this one came out more green pea soup in color, for some reason. The pinto beans, the broccoli??
- More stock
- Chopped tomatoes, a bisque?
- Milk, cream of vegetable?
- White Sauce, thicker cream of vegetable?
- Grated cheese
- Cooked meats: sausage, chicken, etc. I like to sauté Italian sausage, bulk or chopped links, add the base to the pan, then add hot milk or hot stock to get the correct thickness.
With a slab of my Peasant Bread, this makes a nice meal!
Seems like a lot of trouble for just soup? I have found that I take extra care in making a large pot of something that will be eaten over the course of the next few months than for a one-up dish for one meal. You are also making about 2 gallons of finished soup for each gallon of made base.
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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