After the holiday season of traditional rich meals of turkey, ham, tortiere, mashed potatoes and gravy, nothing is better than soup. Soups balance the physical world and bring sanity to the kitchen with their slow cooking, wafting aromas and easy-to-digest store of food value.
This week’s recipes are for three different soups, each of which has restorative power. All are simple. Hang-over Soup comes in several variations that can be supped plain or with flavourings. De-tox Soup is veggie broth with a handful of cranberries for colour. It’s mild, more a tonic than a soup, but with enough flavour to work cold as a mid-morning pick-up as part of a detox routine. Also included is a recipe for simple Chicken broth, for when you’re ready to move on to a more sustaining ladle.
Soup will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Beyond that, freeze it and thaw in the micro or in a pot with half a cup of water.
When you crave a good soup and absolutely cannot make your own, whole food alternatives in Revelstoke are homemade soups from Paramjit’s Kitchen, Mountain Meals, and The Modern Bakery.
So-called because I first made it for fellow students after an all night party when I was 18. We were all hungry and the fridge held exactly one potato, one onion and one litre of milk. It’s a simple and restorative soup, perfect for regaining balance after the rich food of the holidays. The simplicity of flavour, the absence of fat or heaviness, provides much-needed relief after the holidays. This is surprisingly good soup. For additional flavour, see Add-ins following the recipe.
- 1 medium onion ( 1 cup diced)
- 2 large or 4 small potatoes. If you have a choice, use Russets.
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tsp.salt
- Peel and cube the potatoes and the onion.
- Cover potato and onion with water in pot. Add salt. Boil for 10 minutes, lower heat and simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add milk and stir with a whisk or fork to mix. Keep stirring to prevent sticking.
- Add pepper to taste.
- Simplicity Yam Soup: use one large or two small yams, and replace cow milk with light coconut milk.
- Mixed-up Hang-over Soup: Use one large potato and one large yam, and two cups milk plus one can light coconut milk.
- Creamed Hang-over Soups: press the mixture of onion and potato or yam through a sieve before adding the milk. You think it will take forever to sieve the veggies, but once they are well cooked, it takes in fact about one minute. Stir in the milk with a whisk. The creamy version of these soups is elegant enough for guests, especially with one of these flavour add-ons.
Flavour plus add-ons
These additions turn simple soups into a much more complex taste sensation, while retaining the essential refreshing quality of plain ingredients. I’ve tested these and vouch for the huge difference in taste; substitutions will not give the same impact.
- Mango chutney, from Parmanjit’s Kitchen, or from Pam’s stall at the Saturday Market at the Community Centre. Try to get it on the days she puts in figs. Add 1-2 tablespoons per bowl of soup. This chutney is absolutely transformative, changing simplicity into a complex taste sensation, especially in yam soup.
- A drizzle of Porcini Olive Oil and a drizzle of Aceto Balsamico Malletia, from Crescendo. Let guests do this — it’s fun to drizzle and beautiful to look at.
- A knob of butter and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs.
De-Tox Veggie Tonic
This is less a soup than a restorative and sustaining tonic. I used to use powdered beef broth to get through medical tests when fasting was required, but now find that this tonic is more nutritious, better tasting and more satisfying. You can use it hot or cold. It is reasonably filling, and the minerals and vitamins from the veg are sustaining. Cranberries and sun-dried tomatoes add rosiness as well as a touch of sweetness.
A note about cleaning vegetables
You may be persistent enough, or lucky enough, to find all organic produce. If not, be sure to wash away ALL the preservative and pesticide from non-organic foodstuffs. Scrub out the kitchen sink with baking soda and hot water to get rid of detergent. Fill the sink with hot hot water and soak the veg for 2-3 minutes. (The first time you do this, it’s horrifying to see the scum float to the top, especially from commercially grown lettuce.) Repeat the rinsing until the water remains clear. I now do this with supposedly pre-washed organic greens, after finding a steel clip in the midst of cello-pac baby arugula.
Put into a large pot
10 cups water
1 cup of the following, in one inch dice: carrots, parsnip, squash or yam, celery,
2 fingers kombu, kelp or other sea vegetable
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed well under hot water
¼ cup fresh cranberries
¼ tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. tarragon salt (sal d’estragon)
Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour. Add
4 cups cabbage or kale
and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Strain and pack into mason jars. For pizzazz, serve in a chilled glass rimmed with citrus-basil salt and decorated with a leafy celery stick, or hot topped with lemon slices.
You can use any vegetables for this tonic, but best avoid those high in oxalic acid, which can irritate delicate digestion: beets, peppers, sorrel, spinach, chard and parsley. I avoid onion, garlic and ginger in this recipe as mild and soothing is the point.
ANY soup you make will be better with homemade broth than a purchased can, pack or cube of stock. As well, you can turn any broth into soup by adding chopped veggies, chicken, meat or fish.
Stock or broth is water infused with the rich vitamin and mineral content of vegetables and meat (or chicken or fish). We call this broth when it’s light and stock when it’s dark and rich. Making stock is a morning’s work: freeze it for a lasting supply of base for soups, sauces and chili.
I don’t always have time to do the stock full Monte, with veal knuckles roasted in the oven for hours, but here is a recipe for plain chicken broth. It makes 10 cups of stock.
1 chicken, plucked. In China, they would leave on the head and the feet
(If you don’t want to use a whole chicken, use bone-in pieces, 3 lbs., or chicken bones you’ve saved in the freezer from past dinners, and go directly to step 2 below.)
1 onion, skinned and quartered
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tsp. salt
2 cloves of garlic
a handful of parsley
a 2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 twig each of fresh thyme, oregano and parsley
the juice of 1 lemon
- Put everything except the lemon juice in a large pot. Cover with 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low until the chicken is well cooked—about an hour and a half. Remove the chicken, carve and refrigerate the meat.
- Return the bones to the pot and simmer for another hour, or until any meat left on the bones is falling off.
- Strain into a large bowl or a clean pot, by leaving in a colander over the bowl for at least 15 minutes. Strain again through a sieve.
- Add the juice of a lemon to the broth. Refrigerate or put outside on the snow for an hour. Remove the fat that accumulates at the top with a paper towel, scooping it out in small dabs, or wait until the fat congeals on top and slide it off with a spatula.
- Taste and add salt or more lemon to taste.
- Pour into glass jars (washed, and sterilized by placing upside down in a pan with 2 inches of water in a 350 oven for 30 minutes); top with caps, foil or waxed paper held on with rubber bands, and freeze or refrigerate. If you are freezing the broth, leave a good inch of airspace at the top of the jar — it will expand on freezing.
Making soup out of broth:
- Add a little finely chopped chicken and alphabet noodles. I have watched soup-haters under age 8 enjoy this.
- Add any chopped veggies, smallish pasta, beans or lentils and simmer until all are cooked but not mushy. Add sea salt to taste. Top with crumbled cheese of any kind, or with chutney.
- Using a turkey carcass for this soup: turkey bones are strongly flavoured, so double the vegetable content and add extra lemon if required