I love soup! A nice bowl of warm soup is like a loving hug as you slowly enjoy it! I always find it interesting that people often order soup as a starter in restaurants, but rarely make it for themselves at home – and I’m not talking make it from the can and add a tin of water; I mean MAKE it. As part of my series for the perfect Thanksgiving, let’s talk about soup!
I always start my thanksgiving meal with a bowl of delicious fall-flavored soup. I think there is something warming and inviting for your family and friends to savor something hot and delicious before a heavy turkey dinner. Here are three tips for making a great soup for Thanksgiving (or anytime):
- Keep it simple
- Use fresh ingredients
- Make it ahead!
Simple doesn’t mean boring or flavorless – in fact, I often think simple soups are the most delicious. What you want to keep in mind for your Thanksgiving soup, is your friends and family are about to embark on a multi-course, heavy Turkey dinner; this is not the time for Pappa al Pomodoro, despite how delicious it is! To me, simple means taking one or two “star ingredients,” jazzing them up with some accompanying spices, and topping it with a simple garnish to finish the soup and add the wow factor for your guests.
There’s rarely a time (with a few exceptions) I think canned or frozen ingredients are the right choice – sorry. Part of making great food is using great ingredients, and great ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, it just means fresh. The other part of freshness I think is important, is if your making a soup with chicken stock as the base, it really does need to be homemade. Again, sorry, but I truly agree with Ina Garten here – homemade chicken stock makes all the difference in the world!
And finally, you may be surprised by this, but I always say make the soup ahead! Thanksgiving can be stressful; you have house guests; you’re constantly entertaining; you’re constantly cooking and cleaning; you have that massive turkey to roast (stay tuned for a special edition on the turkey)! Why not get ahead and make your soup in advance and freeze it? Then on Thanksgiving, all you have to do is defrost the soup, heat it up, add final ingredients and serve! Since all the vegetables in your soup will be fully cooked, the extra water content from freezing it really isn’t a problem; as the soup defrosts, the water just becomes part of the soup. My only advice here is if you’re making a soup with milk or cream, don’t add the dairy until you’re ready to serve. The reason is as you reheat the soup, if you heat the soup too fast the fat and the milk solids will separate and leave your soup lumpy – not good! You can fix most mistakes in the kitchen, but believe me, you cannot fix (nor will you want to eat) that!
Happy cooking everyone! I’m making my Thanksgiving soup today – watch for a video on the blog soon for Spiced Apple and Sweet Potato soup!