Homemade Soup Recipes are Easy to Create!
Once you know the basic elements that make up a good soup, creating your own homemade soup recipes will be a snap! Learn these very few basics, and you can quickly be rummaging through the fridge, freezer and pantry for something to “throw together,” creating new unique homemade soup recipes every time.
The first element to a soup is the flavor base. A flavor base is a collection of aromatic vegetables (and sometimes other ingredients) that are used to infuse their flavors into the rest of the soup. The most common of these vegetables by far is onion, and many soups start out with just onions. But there are many, many more — celery, carrot, garlic, bacon, ham. Even some herbs such as bay leaf can be used as part of the flavor base.
Any soup that starts out without a flavor base is bound to be much less flavorful than it could otherwise be, so don’t skip this step!
The next element, and arguably the most important, is the broth. This is what makes homemade soup recipes taste like something from a restaurant. In a strict sense, the broth is the liquid that is created before the soup is ever made, and is added to the flavor base. It is most often made by simmering vegetables and bones for several hours to make a stock or broth that is full of flavor. Examples of this would be chicken, beef, veal or fish, each of which can be used in many different soups.
But looked at another way, the broth is really the liquid part of the soup, regardless of how it was made. So we need to include other liquids that get added to soup besides stocks and broths. Tomato water is a good example of this. It is made simply from simmering tomatoes, and has a ton of flavor. It is used in soups that need to be lighter and more refreshing, as in minestrone or gazpacho.
Other liquids can be added to, instead of replace, the stock or broth. White wine is a very common addition to soups. For instance, classic French Onion Soup would not be the same at all without it!
Vinegars of different types, when added in small amounts, can also add a lot to a soup. In some cases it can even be a main ingredient, as in Hot and Sour Soup.
The other factor with soup broths is the type. There are three basic types: clear, cream, or starchy. Clear broths are usually made from a stock or broth, while a cream based soup starts with a “white sauce” that acts as a thickener. It also lets you add milk without scalding it in the hot soup. Finally, starch broths are made by pureeing one or more of the main ingredients, usually a vegetable or legume of some sort.
The next element is the main, or solid ingredients. Typically this is what the soup is named for, and generally has the most distinct flavor. There is not much to say here, except that it is good idea to know the best way to prepare your ingredients for the soup. In many cases simply throwing the food into the soup is not the best approach. Potatoes can be baked before being turned into a potato soup. Yams and squash can be roasted, and chicken and beef can be seared for extra flavor.
Herbs, Spices and Seasonings
Along with the preparation technique, it is also important to know which of the fourth element, the seasonings, will go best with your main ingredient. Of course, herbs and spices are matters of personal taste, but there are some combinations that simply work so well that you should remember them.
One example of this is tomatoes and basil. Even adding basil to a commercial tin of tomato soup will make it instantly better. Another example is parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme with almost any poultry. In most of my homemade soup recipes I have made an effort to use such “classic” combinations rather than just my personal preferences.
The only other thing I want to mention in this section is that salt is often underused in home cooking. I know that there is a lot of concern over its effect on health, but the simple fact is that most salt in our diet comes from commercial food. When cooking fresh food it takes a lot less salt to get the same effect, especially if you add it to the beginning of your cooking process, instead of the end.
These are the 4 main elements of soups in general. Almost every soup has all of these elements, and if you learn to make each of these the best way you can, then your homemade soup recipes are guaranteed to get rave reviews!
Each of these elements is discussed in greater detail on their own pages. You will get lots of ideas on these pages, but most importantly you will learn why they are important to the soup. This will help you decide how to treat each of these elements when making your own unique homemade soup recipes.