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Real Englewood Area Dish
home : features : real englewood area dish
September 29, 2020

6/4/2020 3:50:00 PM
The Real Englewood Area Dish
Tips from the Soup Queen

The difference between a good soup and a great soup often comes down to one word—salt. Taste your soup when it’s almost done, and if it’s not quite there yet, add salt. It’s the not-so-secret way to bring it all together. 

You can also brighten a soup’s flavor by adding citrus (lime in gazpacho, orange or lemon in squash soup) or balsamic vinegar (tomato-based and vegetable soups).

Buy an immersion/stick blender. It is a lifesaver when you are puréeing soups and also breaks up beans and tomatoes, creating a more complex texture.

Use chicken legs for chicken soup. They’re inexpensive and two will give you enough meat for a pot.

Before you toss out leftovers, produce, meat or bones, think
“Can I use this in soup?” Most likely you can. Label it and keep it all in one section of the freezer. I even freeze the rinds from hard cheese for bean soups or minestrone.  

While I don’t “follow” recipes, I do often start with one. I recommend checking out the soup chapter of your favorite cookbook, or go to allrecipes.com where you can search by ingredients and check out the changes other cooks recommend for the recipe. Also search for the cooking method you plan to use, i.e. “Minestrone in slow cooker.”

Sharyn Lonsdale

It's all in the soup:The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
It didn’t take a quarantine to get me on a soup cooking binge.  I have been making soup for comfort and to combat stress for decades. 

It all started when I was hired for my first catering job. After preparing an asparagus walnut salad almost sent me to the hospital, the owner decided soups were the safest place to deal with my severe tree nut allergy. 

It turned out to be a good move and within weeks I was dubbed the Soup Queen, preparing my boss’s favorites and inventing my own. 

As a mom, I found that soup was a relatively simple way to feed my family (unless you count the squash soup disaster of 2001, but we won’t go there). A pot of cream of potato soup with bacon always meant a happy family.

Making soup was such a weekend ritual that every Monday my coworker would ask me what soup I made. One weekend I bragged that I had actually made two soups and from that point on, I had my second soup-related nickname, Sharyn “Two Soups” Lonsdale.

In quarantine, I have significantly upped my soup game. A bag of bargain corn at the produce store determined that week’s corn chowder. Passover meant Matzah Ball Soup. When I couldn’t fit a package of ground turkey in my freezer I made chili. Bloody Mary mix and salsa in the fridge inspired a Sunday gazpacho.

Since my daughter and I can eat only so much soup, I’ve been sharing with friends and family, even doing hand-offs in parking lots. Several people have asked me for recipes and that’s the one thing I can’t give them. Because if I use one, I change it. 

I  rarely use an Instant Pot or slow cooker. I have them, but when I make soup it has to be on the stove in my blue wanna-be Creuset stockpot which has taken up permanent residence on my rear burner.  I need to stir, taste, season and tweak. 

In order to aspire to soup queen or king royalty, you do need to have some pantry staples. I make my own stock sometimes, but I always have chicken, beef and vegetable broth in boxes, cans and jars, as well as “emergency” packets and cubes. You should also have red and white canned beans, frozen vegetables, grains and pastas on hand. I’m a big fan of barley, tortellini and for old-school fun, alphabet pasta. The bare spice essentials are salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, onion powder and celery flakes for when you don’t have the real thing. Everglades Seasoning and Sazon Goya packets are my go-to all-purpose weapon, available at all grocery stores, and If your diet limits salt, try Mural of Flavor from www.Penzeys.com 

Since we aren’t going to the grocery as much, plan to make a soup around your protein of the week.  The end of a rotisserie chicken is a perfect starter for chicken soup. If you’re making something with ground beef, save some for mini meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup. 

Soup is also a fantastic way to use food in the fridge that has seen better days. You can make a simple and healthy vegetarian soup by combining frozen and fresh vegetables,  beans or chickpeas and a half-cup of quick-cooking barley. Throw everything in a pot with vegetable stock, add a can of tomatoes if you like, and season
to taste.  

And if you’re thinking, “I live alone it’s not worth the time to make a pot of soup, think again. Soup is one of the most economical and healthy meals you can make and almost all non-creamy soups freeze like a dream. Portion in quart freezer bags and label with the soup and date. 

So, why scour the supermarkets for yeast to bake another loaf of bread, when you can get creative, use what’s already in your kitchen, and eat healthy with homemade soup? You might even earn your
own nickname. 

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