Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beautiful, Beautiful Soup

When the weather gets crisp and the evenings get cool, there's nothing better than soup. Actually, we love soup all year long--in the summer, it's quick and only heats up one burner, and it warms you from the inside out all the rest of the year. And soup is so versatile--all you need is liquid and Stuff and, in a pinch, you can do without the Stuff. Stuff makes it better, though.

Remember the story of Stone Soup? My mother actually pulled that one on me when I was an innocent child and hadn't heard the story yet. I didn't like soup because it had bits of things in it. When you don't want your foods to touch on your plate, soup is a total no-go. So she had me go out and bring her a smooth little rock. She washed it in hot soapy water and put it into a pot, added water and vegetables and, I think, meat (which was always a Good Thing as far as I was concerned). She promised I could have the rock in my bowl if I would promise not to try to eat it. By golly, I ate my soup that night.

One of my favorite soup bases is roast chicken--roast a chicken, pick most but not all of the meat off and put it aside for other meals, boil the bones, skin, gristle and other icky bits with onion, carrot and celery. Strain all the solids out and pick through it, giving the gristle and skin and icky bits to the dog and putting the meat back into the broth. When I get done with a chicken, I can hold what's to be thrown away in the palm of one hand. lol! You need to boil the icky bits, by the way--that gristle and stuff, while extremely nasty to eat (unless you're my dog), imparts flavor and thickness. When the broth cools, it ought to be solid--not with fat, but with oomph.

Then you can add anything: tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, white beans, noodles, rice, barley, chickpeas, sausage, kale, spinach, corn, hominy, green beans, dumplings.... See what's in the pantry or garden or refrigerator. Lovely!


Gayle said...

I love the story about your mom making "stone soup." How sweet!

zhadi said...

My favorite soup is tomato, with basil and freshly grated parmesan cheese....