Well, it’s finally cooling off here in Austin, Texas, and that means it’s time for soup!
Until I was about 25, “soup” meant a watery, salty concoction from a can. The only soups I’d had were along a narrow spectrum of grocery store awfulness: chicken noodle, potato, vegetable.
In 2008, I received a copy of Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites, by Food TV chef Giada de Laurentiis as a gift. Laurentiis is my actually favorite of the new breed of television cooking celebrities. Italian food is my favorite regional cuisine. I’m not a food snob; I write a food blog, but, as you may’ve noticed, the meals I make are comparatively uncomplicated, as well as affordable. I like junk food and make no apologies. Laurentiis’s style is approachable and her dishes are simple, healthy, and delicious. I also like her because, like me, she’s short!
The first recipe I made from Giada’s Kitchen was her Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup. It’s a straightforward recipe: butter, onions, garlic, herbs, beans, broth, and cream. But it introduced me to the real possibilities of soup.
After I realized how ridiculously tasty and filling this simple soup was, I started experimenting. I made a potato soup on the same template. I made creamy vegetable soups. I made my soup a little fancier, and complex, by adding toasted nuts. I made it healthier by adding a huge batch of pureed greens. I realized the possibilities are endless! And soup is so budget-friendly, too. As long as you keep the basics on hand (onions, herbs and spices, broth), you can make virtually anything into a great soup. It’s also a great dish to warm up for lunch when you’re at work on just in a hurry. And it freezes brilliantly. Eventually, I even made Julia Child’s french onion soup!
It’s about time for a trip to Wheatsville, and I know what I’ll be stocking up on: soup fixins! I like to keep the following items on hand:
I use boxed, organic broths. I do not have the time to make my own broth; hopefully, I will someday. Here’s a basic introduction to making your own chicken broth.
I also find that shallots add a depth of flavor you can’t get from plain old onions, though I use those, too.
Use fresh garlic.
Cream makes everything better. Sometimes, if I have any, I’ll also use a little sour cream, especially with chicken- and/or greens-based soups.
Another tip: use your saved bacon fat as a base for sautéing the onions and garlic.
So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite soups. Make some of this easy no-knead bread, get busy cooking, and start enjoying soup! Click on any link or picture to go straight to the recipe.