Almost everyone likes soup. Whether it's the first course, a meal in a bowl, or even a snack, soup can add important nutrients and fiber to our diets while keeping the calories low. Studies have been done showing that people who eat soup lose weight more easily. It is believed that it curbs the appetite and provides extra fiber to help reach that full feeling. Read this article from About.com, Eating Soup for Weight Loss, for more information.
With so many brands of canned soups on the store shelves, it's hard to decide which ones provide what we need. Most are very high in sodium. It's not uncommon to find that one serving contains half the daily recommended amount of salt. Watch out for fat content too, especially in cream style soups. Sometimes canned soups are thin and don't have as many vegetables as we might like. We can avoid these pitfalls by learning to make our own soups from scratch.
Soup making basics are not difficult once you learn how. An important part of most soups is the stock, broth or base of the soup. Stock can be made using the ends of vegetables that you might otherwise throw away, such as those tough ends of celery and onions, the green tops of leeks, carrots that are less than perfect, and also the stems of herbs such as parsley. We can cook this separately and freeze it in meal size containers, ready to add soup ingredients to it.
There are many methods for making good stock. It can be made with poultry, meats, fish or vegetables. For example, you can make a flavorful brown chicken stock by roasting bony chicken parts such as the wings and backs. Put the roasted bones and meat into a large pot, add carrots, celery, onions or leeks, a few crushed cloves of garlic, a few peppercorns, and herbs, and enough water to cover to a depth of about two inches over the top of the meat. Simmer for two to three hours, allow to cool, then strain and discard the solids. Refrigerate this stock until the fat comes to the surface and hardens so that it can be easily lifted off. You can then freeze pints or quarts of your stock for future use. You can also make this kind of stock using the leftover bones and scraps of a roast chicken.
For stock using raw meats, use tough meat with bones. Put the raw meat or poultry into a large pot and cover with cold water to a depth of about three inches over the top of the meat. Bring it slowly to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the top. The skimming step can be skipped, but doing it produces a lovely, clear broth. Once the foam stops rising, add the rest of the stock ingredients. They usually include carrots, celery and onion, garlic, and may also include parsnips and other root vegetables. Add parsley stems, bay leaf and herbs of your choice. Simmer slowly for at least two hours or until the meat falls from the bone. Cool, strain, and if desired, pick out the meat, chop and reserve it to add back to your soup. Proceed as described above.
If you want a fish stock to make a soup such as clam chowder, you can use shrimp shells and ends of bony fish. Chefs use the head and tail of the fish. The procedure is the same as above, but it can be cooked for a shorter time and is best used fresh. Bottled clam juice is a good substitute for fish stock.
Today we've chosen a few recipes we hope you will find different and easy to make. Be creative and enjoy making and eating soup.
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