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National Soup Month: Warm your soul no matter how cold it is outside

By ALETHEA PRICE

Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

What warms your soul no matter how cold it is outside? Soup! Let’s hear it for the easiest, most comforting, feed an army food that you can throw together in just minutes. Soup is a common recipe that can be made easily from canned ingredients found in your pantry or even with leftover foods hanging out in your fridge.

When you’re making soup you need to cover three important bases, protein, veggie, and liquid. Ingredients for most soup recipes are often found in your pantry such as chicken stock and dry seasonings. Canned or frozen veggies are always helpful. Beans and canned meats also make simple soups quick and easy.

Stock, broth, bouillon and consommé are interchangeable. Bouillon is a broth made by cooking vegetables, poultry, meat or fish in water. The liquid that is strained off after cooking is the bouillon, which can form the base for soups and sauces. It’s very easy to make your own stock or broth at home by simply poaching meat or vegetables and reserving the cooking liquid. If you don’t have time to make stock at home the concentrated cubes of dehydrated beef, chicken or vegetable stock in the granular form are available. Consommé is usually a clarified meat or fish broth. These are great to keep on hand in the pantry. Make your own and you can cut down your sodium intake.

Now that we have covered some basics, let’s try throwing some leftovers in the mix. You can make some pretty flavorful soups fast by using leftovers from the fridge. If you’ve got leftover roasted root veggies you can add those to some chicken or veggie stock, heat them through and then blend until smooth. You can do the same thing with leftover broccoli, cauliflower, or even corn. Get creative.

Speaking of leftovers, you can make beef or chicken stew with a little thickening. A stew is any dish that is prepared by stewing and often applies to dishes that contain meat, vegetables and a thick soup-like broth resulting from a combination of the stewing liquid and the natural juices of the food being stewed. Yes there is a difference between soups and stews and it’s the thickness. Stews and chowders are often thicker than most soups.

When it comes to thickening a soup or stew, you just need a couple of ingredients. Just take 3 tablespoons of butter and melt it in a pan or skillet. Add 3 tablespoons of flour and stir to cook out the raw flour taste. When it comes together as sort of a paste, add a ladle of soup liquid or stock to the mix whisking to prevent any lumps. When it looks sort of like smooth gravy, transfer it to the pot of soup and stir it in until it reaches the desired thickness.

Try some new soups, try making soups at home. Definitely try making stock at home. It’s easy and gives you the opportunity to control the amount of sodium in it. Make the most of your pot of soup by making a big batch. It keeps well in the freezer and makes for an easy lunch you can take to work. Enjoy National Soup Month.

If you have questions or comments about the column, or if you’d like more information feel free to contact me by email at a.price@uky.edu.

Vegetable stock

Yield: 3-4 cups

Ingredients

2 large carrots, coarsely chopped

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

1 medium-size turnip, coarsely chopped

1 large tomato, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup shredded lettuce

6 sprigs parsley

1 clove garlic

1 bay leaf

¾ teaspoon dried thyme

6 cups of water

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil. Simmer the stock, partially covered, 4-6 hours. Strain the stock and allow it to cool. Label and freeze in airtight containers for up to 6 months.