Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Souperman

Soup is among the easiest of things to make in the kitchen, limited by only your imagination and the ingredients you have on hand. Things in cans and jars tend to keep well, as do vegetables like onions and potatoes, and fruit like apples. (But I haven't found a soup that calls for apples... not a bad idea, just... not on the top of my mind... I guess.) Always having some broth lying around, some crushed tomatoes, or some roasted peppers can make preparing lunch all the easier, since you don't have to worry about fresh ingredients going bad or anything like that.

The other nice thing about soup after you make it is that it keeps well, whether in the fridge (for about a week, though I've gone as long as three weeks on some soups) or in the freezer (soup keeps, like, forever in the freezer). If you make your own soup, you know exactly what you're putting in it. No unpronounceable ingredients! No unwanted salt or fat or whatever!

There exists an excellent article from The New York Times about the four basic types of soup and how to easily make your own variations on themes. I printed out and tucked it into a folder in my kitchen.

The ingredients.
Here is one of my favorite soup recipes, for a Corn Chowder, originally featured in my short-lived Soup of the Week Club blog.

The sauté.
Meat-Free Corn Chowder

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil & 2 tbsp. unsalted butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Sauté 1 large sweet onion (finely chopped), 1 carrot (finely chopped), and 2-3 chile peppers (minced) with a pinch of salt for about 5 min. Stir in 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced) and cook another 2-3 min. Stir in 1 tsp. ground cumin and 1 tsp. smoked paprika, cook another minute or two. Deglaze with 1 c. dry vermouth or vegetable stock. Stir in 2-3 red potatoes (roughly peeled & finely diced) and 4 c. vegetable stock, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 10 min. Add 10-12 c. corn (canned, fresh, or frozen), bring back to a boil, then simmer for 6 min, stirring occasionally. Stir in 9-10 tortilla chips (crushed—about 3 tbsp.) until soup is thickened, about 2 min. Take the pot off the heat and puree 2 c. of the soup. Add the puree back to the rest of the soup, along with the juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp. cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, or your favorite salsa!

If you put soup in pint containers, you will always have enough for 1-2 people. Fridge 'em. Freeze 'em. You can have soup whenever you want! And you don't need a can opener. (Unless you used canned corn for the soup...)

Title inspiration: It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman is a real, actual musical written by David Newman and Robert Benton, with music by Charles Strouse (of Annie fame) and lyrics by Lee Adams (who did Bye Bye Birdie with Strouse). Premiered at the Alvin Theatre in New York City on 29 March 1966, directed by (of all people) Harold Prince.

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