I don’t know what the weather is like where you all live, but here in Western Canada, it’s freakin’ cold. Like almost at the point where the Celsius and Fahrenheit meet on the thermometer. On days like these, I want a dinner that is going to warm my belly but I also want to crawl under a blanket rather than standing in front of the stove for an hour. There is only one answer to this conundrum: soup! And when I say soup, I do not mean something that comes in a can.
I used to think that soup making was a difficult undertaking, but it’s actually a piece of cake (or, uh, a bowl of soup). Here are some reasons to put down the can opener and make your own from-scratch soup:
1. It’s quick and easy.
Now, if you’re making your own stock, you’ll want to do this on a weekend and stockpile it in the freezer, because the stock part isn’t particularly quick. I do away with the stock altogether and just buy it from the store. If you do this you won’t technically be making it purely “from scratch,” but no one will really care. After the stock question is taken care of, most soups are pretty easy to make and don’t require any hardcore cooking skills. My favorite kind of soup to make is pureed vegetable soups, which can usually be prepared fairly quickly. If you’re really on top of things, you can chop or roast your veggies ahead of time and put the soup together when you get home from work in no time flat.
2. It’s inexpensive.
If you avoid recipes that call for foodie ingredients like caviar or truffle oil you can whip up a pot of soup on the cheap even if you do drop a couple of extra bucks for prepared stock. You’ll likely be buying fresh veg, which can be pricier in some parts of the country than others, but since that veg will be the main part of your meal, not a side dish, your expenses stay pretty low. Also, a pot of soup can be stretched pretty far. Most soup recipes can feed a family of four, and if you’re single or one half of a couple you’ll have leftovers for a second (or third) meal.
3. You can vary recipes to suit your diet.
Unless you’re making something like clam chowder or beef and barley soup, many soups that contain non-vegetarian ingredients can easily be made veggie by subbing vegetable stock for chicken stock or omitting things like bacon or anchovies. You can also play with the amount of salt or fat, which is not an option with canned soups.
4. You’ll feel like you’re eating in a restaurant.
I don’t get out to fancy restaurants very often, so when I am out at a nice place for a special occasion I like to go all out and order a soup course. Guess what? You can make an easy soup that tastes like a $14 bowl of fancy restaurant soup. The trick is to add a splash of cream and to salt it accordingly.
5. It’s healthy.
Basically everything you put into your soup (except the store bought stock) falls into the whole food category. This is good for your body and also sticks it to the jerks that are poisoning us with their over-produced pre-packaged foods.
6. It’s a good excuse to eat a lot of bread and butter.
Nothing is more satisfying than dipping a well-buttered piece of whole wheat French bread into a steaming bowl of soup. Did I mention butter?
To get you started, I had a recent success with this butternut squash soup recipe. If butternut squash is not your thing, search your favorite online recipe source for a soup featuring your favorite vegetable.
Carrot soup picture by Jules, courtesy of Wikimedia.org.