Always use 'pure' water for making soups, and be careful to proportion
YOUR SOUPS' STOCK POT - NATURE, USE, AND CARE
Among the utensils used for cooking there is probably none more convenient and useful than your soups' stockpot. It is nothing more or less than a covered crock or pot, into which ingredients able to produce a well-flavored stock for you are put from time to time. From such a supply, you'll draw your stock from it to make soups as you wish. When you take some out, add more water and ingredients to replenish the pot. It's best your soups' stockpot be made of either enamel or earthenware, since a metal pot of any kind may impart unwanted flavor to the food. Give your stock pot, as well as any other utensil used for making soups, considerable care. No stock pot should ever be allowed to stand too long without being emptied, thoroughly washed, and then exposed to the air for a while to dry.
HERBS AND VEGETABLES USED IN YOUR SOUPS RECIPES
In the making of your soups, you have a large choice of vegetables. Any with a decided flavor may be used. Among those from which you can successfully create delicious soups are cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, corn, onions, turnips, carrots, beans, parsnips, tomatoes, peas, lentils, potatoes, spinach, celery, mushrooms, okra and even sweet potatoes. Use these vegetables to provide flavoring, or to form part of the soup itself. When they are used only for flavoring, they are cooked until their flavor is obtained, and then removed from the stock. When they are to form part of the soup, as well as to impart flavor, you'll leave small pieces of them in the soup, or make them into a puree. Herbs usually used in soups are parsley, common thyme, summer savory, knotted marjoram, and other seasonings such as bay leaves, tarragon, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, mace, black and white pepper, red pepper, etc. You'll want to season your soups only slightly with salt and pepper. If you put in too much, you risk overdoing it for those whose tastes differ from yours. If too little, it is always easy for them to add more. Give attention to the condition of the vegetables used in your soups. You and your family will want fresh, wholesome, vegetables, which are at their best, as crisp and solid as possible. When dried vegetables are used for soup making, they should first be soaked well in cold water and then, either partly cooked, or entirely cooked and made into a puree, before you add them to your soups' stock.
Although thin, clear soups are preferred by some, likely you, and your family will prefer the thicker soups. They can form a substantial part of a meal. Besides giving greater consistency to soups, thickening improves their flavor. However, its chief purpose will be to give more nutritive value to your soups. Whenever your soups are thickened, their food value will increase by the ingredients you add. For this reason, you may decide to thicken your soups on a regular basis. The substance used to thicken your soups may be either a starchy material or food, or a puree of a food. The starchy materials generally used for this purpose are plain flour, browned flour, corn starch and arrowroot flour. Any one of these should be moistened with enough cold water to make a mixture that will pour easily and then added to the hot liquid while the soup is stirred constantly to prevent the formation of lumps. A sufficient amount of this thickening material should be used to make your soups the consistency of heavy cream. Starchy foods you can use for thickening include rice, barley, oatmeal, noodles, tapioca, sago, and macaroni. Many unusual and fancy forms of macaroni can be purchased, or the plain varieties of Italian pastes may be broken into small pieces and cooked with the soup. When any of these foods are used, to ensure they've been cooked thoroughly, you'll want to add them well before your soups are removed from the stove. You'll find purees of beans, peas, lentils, potatoes, and other vegetables are especially desirable for the thickening of soups. They not only give consistency, but add nutritive value and flavor as well. Another excellent thickening may be obtained by beating raw eggs, and then adding them carefully to the soup just before it is to be served. After eggs have been added for thickening, avoid letting the soup boil, because it may tend to curdle.
CLEARING YOUR SOUPS
Sometimes you may desire to improve the appearance of your soup stock particularly a small amount of soup to be served at a very dainty luncheon or dinner. In order to do this, you can treat your soup stock by a certain process that will cause it to become clear. After being cleared, it can be served as a thin soup or, if it is heavy enough, you may want to make it into a clear, sparkling jelly into which many desirable things can be molded for salad or for a dish to accompany a heavy course. Clearing soup is rather extravagant. However, while it does not improve the taste, it does dramatically improve the appearance. A very satisfactory way in which to clear stock is to use egg whites and crushed eggshell. To each quart of cold stock should be added the crushed shell and a slightly beaten egg white. These should be mixed well, placed on the fire, and the mixture stirred constantly until it boils. As the egg coagulates, some of the floating particles in the stock are caught and carried to the top while others are carried to the bottom by the particles of shell as they settle. After the mixture has boiled for 5 or 10 minutes, the top should be skimmed carefully and the stock then strained through a fine cloth. When it has been reheated, the cleared stock will be ready to serve.
TIMESAVING SOUP RECIPES EXTRACTS
If you haven't the time to complete the various processes involved in making soup, there are many concentrated meat and vegetable extracts on the market for making soups quickly. The meat extracts are made of the same flavoring material as that which is drawn from meat in the making of stock. Almost all the liquid is evaporated and the result is a thick, dark substance which, when diluted with water, you'll be able to use as the basis for your soups or a broth. Some of the vegetable extracts such as Japanese soy and English marmite are so similar in appearance and taste to the meat extracts as to make it quite difficult to detect any difference. Both varieties of these extracts may be used for sauces and gravies, as well as for soups, but remember... they are not highly nutritious, and are valuable primarily for flavoring.
If you'd like to purchase our unique ebook, "YOU can... Serve Savory Chili and Soups to Your Family and Guests (Recipes and Tips)--Your Key to Healthy Eating. Click here, and learn how to S T R E T C H Your Family Food Budget!