January Is National Soup Month
Warm up at home with healthy and hearty homemade soups.
January is National Soup Month. It’s a perfect month for it, don’t you think? So many areas, from east to west, have residents hunkering down during one of the coldest months of the year, and there is nothing more comforting on a chilly evening than a great bowl of soup.
Making soup at home can be very simple, and it is much healthier than canned soups. Sure, there are brands like Amy’s that are a lot better than others. But there is a pleasure that comes from creating warm, hearty goodness with your own hands that is extremely satisfying. A little hesitant? Not to worry. After you make soups enough times, it becomes easy to freestyle and go with the flow. If not, if following a recipe is preferred, there are several cookbooks noted below that are good for any soup novice to expert.
As you experiment with various soups, you may realize many recipes turn out large batches that lead to leftovers. Great, right? With the extra servings, the tips below will help ensure your hard work can be enjoyed days, and even weeks, after preparation.
- It is essential to cool down soup before placing it in a refrigerator or freezer. If short on time, stirring the soup periodically helps it cool faster. Or putting the pot, uncovered, in a sink or another bowl filled with ice water helps speed the process along. Then, once it is cooled, be sure to skim any excess oil that has risen to the top.
- To store soups, 1-quart, airtight, freezer-safe containers or bags work well and easily fit one to two servings. (Remember, 1 quart equals 2 pints equals 4 cups equals 32 fluid ounces.) If freezing in a container, leave room between the food contents and the lid, at least a quarter-inch, to allow for expansion. If using a freezer bag, leave extra room as well. Let as much air out of the bag as possible.
- When the time comes to defrost the soup, allow it to thaw completely in the refrigerator. Or defrost/reheat the soup in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop.
- Cream-based soups do not freeze as well as others and can separate when reheated. If separation happens, whisk briskly to remix. Or blend the soup in a blender for a minute or two.
- If the soup includes pasta, consider undercooking the pasta or adding the noodles at the time of reheating to prevent a mushy outcome.
- Use the soup within two to three months.
Sweet Pea Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen peas, thawed
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook until aromatic. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil, add peas, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. When peas are tender, add parsley. Then puree soup in the pot using an immersion blender. (Or ladle the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth or a preferred texture. Return to pot.) Stir in cream and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.
Suggested Soup Books
- Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, Clarkson Potter Publishing, ISBN 096503142X
- New England Soup Factory Cookbook, Thomas Nelson Publishing, ISBN 1401603009
- Sunday Soup, Chronicle Books Publishing, ISBN 0811860329
- The Big Book of Soups and Stews, Chronicle Books Publishing, ISBN 081183056X