Friday, January 18, 2008

Karla's Cooking Made Easy - Soup 101

I spoke to a group of health professionals recently about the power of food as medicine for the body, mind and soul.

During our question and answer period, I was asked if chicken soup really had health benefits. "Yes !" I most enthusiastically responded.

I was shocked to learn that no one in the group ever cooked home made soup or even knew how to make it. The universal reason was that making soup was "hard".

Soup is probably the easiest, most healthful, most economical and most widely loved food you can cook! Just browse the canned soup aisle the next time you go grocery shopping. All those companies wouldn't be making soup if they didn't make a hefty profit off it.

So here's the basics:

1. There are two kinds of soup: broth based and milk based.

2. There are no real rules.

3. It's the best place to use up left overs.


Let's begin.

Basic Broth Based Soup
Put some broth into a pot. Use bouillion cubes and water, canned chicken broth or home made broth (recipe follows). Add fresh, frozen or canned (with their liquid) vegetables, canned tomatoes, rice, noodles, potatoes, canned beans, cooked meat, chicken, sausage or shrimp (leftovers are perfect). Bring to a boil partially covered. Reduce to simmer and cook until everything is tender and hot. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Add a little thyme, Chinese red chili garlic or cinnamon, if desired.

Easy Home Made Broth
Put a chicken into the slow cooker and cover with water. Add 1-2 teaspoons salt. (Salt may be omitted.) Cook on high (covered) 4-5 hours or low 10-12 hours. Cool. Use broth and some of the chicken for the soup. Save the rest of the chicken for another use.

Basic Milk Based Soup
Melt 1/2 stick butter in a large pot. Whisk in 1/4 cup flour (all purpose or whole wheat). Cook 1 minute. Whisk in 4 cups milk. Heat to simmer. Stir in vegetables, pasta, rice or whatever you'd like. Add additional milk, if necessary for desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

So what are you waiting for?

Let's get into the kitchen!


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