Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Soup does its loyal best. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you? This quote comes from Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners and directs us to think about soup and its benefits.
Soup is warmth and comfort, security and strength, ease and good flavor. With contemporary accessories like food processors, blenders and slow cookers, soups are beginning to qualify not only as down home cooking, but as practical, fast foods. The aroma of a simmering soup or stew can restore your spirits. And soups and stews are great when made ahead because their flavor improves overnight. Deanna Sagaser, County Extension Agent in Hale County shared the following information concerning soups and stews.
To make good soups, you need more taste than skill. The recipes you follow are only guides. Even if you follow a recipe slavishly and it is painstakingly detailed, the soup will never be exactly the same twice. The moral of this story is you must taste what you are cooking often. Don’t forget the food safety issue, always use a clean spoon.
Adjust the dish by adding more salt, pepper, spices, or herbs. Mustard, sugar, Worcestershire or soy sauce, red wine, bouillon cubes, drippings from a roast or a tiny bit of ground cloves to improve broths.
Stews and chilies typically have a tomato base and lots of meat. The pieces of meat and vegetables in a stew are generally larger than in a soup and the mixture is considerably thicker, Don’t cheat on the simmering time on stews-the long, slow simmer helps extract maximum flavor and ensures fork tender results.
Make sure the spoonful you taste is relatively cool. If it’s very hot, you won’t be aware of its real flavor. Sometimes just letting a soup sit for half an hour can improve it, so when you aren’t happy with your dish, walk away from it; then come back and taste again.
Many soups take on a richer taste if refrigerated for a day to give the flavors time to blend and develop. You can store soup in the refrigerator up to three days. Most soups freeze well, especially thick gumbos, chilies, and stews. Be sure and place soups and stews in small enough containers so that it will chill promptly in the center of the mixture. Package soups and stews in pint or quart plastic freezer containers or heavy-duty zip top freezer bags. Be sure to label them with the recipe name, date, and amount. Freeze soups up to three months.
For more information on Soups and Stews from A to Z, contact the Wise County Extension office at 940/627-3341.
As you plan your New Year’s menu, you might want to try the following:
Black-Eyed Pea Soup
4 bacon strips, diced 1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (15½ ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained 1 cup water
1 ½ teaspoons salt 1 to 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 1 ¼ teaspoons ground mustard 1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon curry powder ½ teaspoon pepper
¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar, optional Minced fresh parsley
Shredded Colby-Monterey Jack Cheese
In a large saucepan cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; remove to paper towels. Drain drippings, sauté the green pepper, onion and garlic until tender. Add peas, tomatoes, water and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 -20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, parsley and bacon. Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts)