Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb


There was a time I made soup every week - not the traditional chicken soup, although I know how to make that, and make it very well. I learned from the best - my mother. Everyone's mother makes the best chicken soup, after all - although I do also like my Yeminite friend's lovely spicy brew. But we rarely had chicken soup on Friday night.

Instead, I made a hearty meal type soup every Tuesday, at least in winter time. These would be thick with meat and beans and vegetables, and I found ways to make them taste different. What I did was come up with a "master" soup recipe. I first got the idea from reading "Moosewood Cooks at Home", where the compiler threw in a line about all you had to do was saute onions, carrots and celery in a pot (the "holy trinity", you should excuse the expression) and go on from there.

And that's what I did. The basic recipe is as follows: chop up a large Spanish onion. Slice a pound of carrots and a stalk of celery thinly, so they fit on a spoon. Heat up a good, sturdy five quart pot, add oil and toss in the veggies one by one, and cook until soft. Toss long cooking ingredients, flavorings and the indispensible bay leaf in, add a quart or so of liquid and simmer. Prior to serving, put in items that don't need long cooking. Serve.

Long cooking ingredients: beef stew, cut small. Beef neck bones. Lamb neck bones. Chicken wings. Turkey wings. Turkey legs. Turkey carcasses. Soaked beans. Lentils. Barley. Potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Dried mushrooms (add fresh with the sauted veggies.) Whole garlic cloves. You get the idea. Note: if using meat on bones or big chunks of meat, take it out before serving and remove from bones and put back in pot. Put the bones back, too, if they're large. Bones = flavor.

Flavorings: fennel seeds. Wine or vinegar (add to sauteing veggies). Freshly ground pepper. Peppercorns. Dried herbs. Parsley. Dill.

Liquid: water. Crushed tomatoes. Stock. Water plus bullion cube if you must.

Extas: frozen corn or other veggies. Cilantro. Lemon juice or a slice of lemon. Scallions. More fresh herbs. This is also the time to add fresh fish if you're making a fish soup.

Variantions: mushroom barley soup: fresh mushrooms with veggies. Pearl Barley and meat with long cooking. Dried is also nice, and add the soaking liquid with the liquid. I like turkey here.

Meatball soup: use crushed tomatoes and water for liquid. Make tiny meatballs out of ground meat, matzo meal and spices. Use Italian seasonings and garlic in the soup and the meatballs. Bring soup to a boil, and plop the tiny meatballs in one by one. Simmer.

Turkey bean sweet potato: exactly as it sounds. Use cilantro at the end if you like cilantro. It needs vinegar or wine to give it some depth. Smells like thankgiving.

Fish chowder, Manhattan style. Make vegetable soup. Add potatoes and thyme. Whenthe potatoes are cooked, take enough soup for one night and transfer to a different pot. Bring to a simmer and add firm white fish in chunks.

I love soup.

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