Archive for Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Expert stirs up simple ideas for creative homemade soups

January 15, 2003

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Making homemade soup that's out of the ordinary is simple and requires just a little imagination.

If the soup will be frozen for later use, add extra stock or broth. This way, the thawing and re-heating process will maintain the consistency of the soup.

Too often, too little broth creates "sludge" instead of soup, according to Joseph Shilling, dean of culinary education at the Art Institute of New York City, formerly at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

To jazz things up a bit, serve soup -- oyster stew or crab bisque -- in a large martini glass, dolloped with sour cream and some chopped chives. A margarita glass can be a fabulous server for Mexican lime-cilantro beef and corn soup. Ole!

As a main course, chicken vegetable soup with dumplings works well. This is as easy as dropping spoonfuls of Bisquick biscuit mix into hot chicken broth, Shilling said.

Here are 10 ways to make your soup look and taste like a famous chef took over your kitchen:

  • Knife cuts. Cut your vegetables with precision -- small dice or the very small dice called brunoise.
  • Knife cuts again. Cut all your vegetables on a bias. A nice touch for Asian soups.
  • Add fresh herbs. Looks pretty and the taste is over the top.
  • Don't shred the chicken or beef, cut it in uniform small dice.
  • Use a clear broth. Soup looks better when you can see what's in it, says Shilling.
  • Use exotic ingredients. If a recipe calls for mushrooms, try shiitake, trumpet or chanterelle.
  • Select vegetables with color. Use red and yellow peppers with green, or combine carrots, beets and turnips for a rainbow of colors.
  • If you are making noodle soup, try fine egg noodles instead of wide ones. Or try something unusual like spaetzle or mini ravioli.
  • Always use the very best ingredients.
  • Prepare your usual recipes but add some zip -- make curry beef vegetable instead of standard beef vegetable, or shrimp noodle soup with a dash of soy instead of chicken noodle.

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