It’s that time of year again. Winter is moving closer and what better way to beat the winter chill than a steaming bowl of soup? Homemade soups make great warming and nourishing meals, and are just the right food for cold winter days.
Soups are an all time favorite. Everyone loves soup. It’s warm, it’s filling and it’s comforting. Whether one is sick, not feeling well, or coming home after a long day in the cold, there is nothing better than a hot bowl of homemade soup. It not only has a warming effect on the body, but also comforts the soul on a cold winter’s day. Soup, served with accompaniments such as bread, croutons, toast, garlic bread or breadsticks, makes for a perfect and satisfying meal in itself.
The history of soup is most likely as old as cooking. The act of mixing various ingredients and heating them up in a pot to make a generally light, nutritious, easily digestible and filling dish seems too simple and delicious to abstain from.
The word soup derives from the English term “sop”, meaning a piece of bread soaked in a bowl of hot broth. Sop became soup when bread was no longer a common part of the meal and only the hot broth remained.
Today one has a wide-ranging choice of soups; gumbo, a culinary classic of the American South, homespun Jewish chicken soup, traditional Maghreb harira, New England chowder, Eastern European borscht, Japanese miso based soups, Spanish gazpacho, Chinese won ton, Italian minestrone, French onion soup, Greek avgolemono…all culinary delights from around the globe.
Gumbo is a Louisiana classic and a result of Louisiana’s shared Creole-Cajun heritage. While there are countless recipes and variations, a few ingredients are necessary to give the dish its distinctiveness. All gumbos start with a good homemade stock and are seasoned with what Louisianans call the “holy trinity” – celery, onions and bell pepper. The soup is traditionally served in a bowl over a mound of rice.
With the cold and flu season just around the corner, chicken soup is a deliciously tasting comfort food and the best natural way to take care of the common cold. While there are many variations, chicken soup is traditionally prepared by boiling chicken together with vegetables and spices. In order for the dish to be more filling, chicken soup is often served with noodles, dumplings or rice.
Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup that is served throughout the Maghreb, the northwest coast of Africa. The dish is traditionally served at the end of each day to break the daily fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan, but it can just as well be eaten on any other day of the year. It’s a thick, heavy soup with lots of ingredients. There are many variations of this hearty soup, but most recipes are made with lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, meat (usually beef, lamb or chicken), spices and herbs. Depending on appetite, harira can be served as a lovely appetizer or as a meal in itself.
Traditional white clam chowder is generally associated with coastal New England. New England clam chowder is a thick and creamy soup loaded with clams, potatoes, onion, bacon and cream. It’s an incredible rich and tasty recipe that is sure to please the whole family.
Borscht is an Eastern European vegetable soup that is almost always made with beets. The use of beet lends the dish its characteristic vibrant red color. Borscht is a healthy and filling soup that not only contains beets, but also a substantial amount of vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots and cabbage. The dish can be served hot or cold.
Made from fermented soybeans, this deliciously tasting salty paste characterizes the essence of Japanese cuisine. Drinking miso soup is a Japanese tradition and the Japanese begin their day with a fortifying bowl of miso soup. Throughout the day, miso is also used to flavor a variety of foods in other meals. High in Vitamin K, calcium and iron, miso soup is considered vital for good health.
While gazpacho isn’t a typical winter soup, as it’s served cold, it’s nevertheless a wonderful dish that helps the body cool down in the summer. Gazpacho is an uncooked, tomato-based, cold vegetable soup that has its roots in Andalusia, the southern region of Spain. Traditional gazpacho is made with ripe tomatoes, and is full of cucumbers, onion, bell peppers, garlic, soaked bread and a splash of olive oil and vinegar.
The name won ton means swallowing a cloud, whereby the floating wontons are meant to resemble clouds. A wonton is a type of dumpling commonly found in Chinese cooking. It’s typically made from a thin sheet of dough, cut into different shapes, and stuffed with a small portion of meat or vegetable. While wontons can be prepared in various ways, they are most commonly boiled to make wonton soup.
Minestrone, a robust vegetable-based soup, is one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine. The addition of beans and pasta make the soup a filling meal in a bowl. Minestrone comes from the Italian language and literally means “big soup”, referring to all the goodies in it. Minestrone is a dish that allows for lots of creativity, so the dish can be adapted to suite local circumstances (e.g. available ingredients) and altered to fit individual taste.
French onion soup not only warms your heart during nasty weather, but also puts color back in your cheeks. There are not many things as comforting as French onion soup. The trick to a great French onion soup is starting with good stock, usually made with beef stock. Another important element is to slowly caramelize the onions, allowing them to turn mellow and sweet.
Avgolemono is a classic Greek soup. The name literally means “egg and lemon”, the two most important ingredients that create this soothing, nourishing bowl. The base of avgolemono soup is chicken stock. Traditionally, rice or orzo (rice shaped pasta) is cooked in the broth with stripes of meat. This recipe is pleasant on a cold day and a pick-me-up when feeling down.