January is really perfect for Soup Month. Here in Minnesota it’s usually bitter cold and filled with snow. Though this year is non-standard with 50 degree days and barely any snow, but, just like a cup of hot cocoa, soup is one of those foods that warms you up, even when it’s not that cold.
We don’t make a ton of soup here at the Two Kids household, mainly because the two kids don’t eat it–actually mostly the girl kid. We do have a couple that Alex and I enjoy, that you can find here: Corn Chowder, Two Kids Squash Soup. BUT, you really don’t need a recipe to make soup.
Yep, I said you do NOT need a recipe. And for us, no recipe means lots of experimental fun. There are some tips for making a soup we list at the end, but you can choose as a family what to include and what not to include. Here’s what you do:
Pick a Base:
Broth Based – For broth based soups, you can use chicken, beef, vegetable, or fish stock. Or, if there’s a stock/broth type I’m missing, you could use that, too.
Milk/Cream Based – For a creamy soup, you can still start with a neutral broth, like vegetable, and supplement with milk, half and half, condensed milk or cream. You can also a non-dairy milk substitute.
Meat (or not):
If you decide to add meat to your soup, pick your favorite kind: chicken, beef, pork, fish, venison, turkey…whatever you prefer. Soup is good without meat too, so don’t rule out an all veggie soup.
Select a Starch:
Technically, you don’t have to add a starch, but personally, I don’t know why you wouldn’t. The standards are Potatoes, Rice, Noodles or a combination. There’s also things like dumplings, if you want to try making them and beans or even barley.
With veggies, you can add a lot of different kinds, or a lot of only one or two kinds, it’s up to you. Depending on the ‘theme’ or flavor of the soup you’re making, certain veggies are better than others.
To make your do-it-yourself sup, all you have to do is pick something from each category and you’re ready! Add all your ingredients to a big pot, cover with your liquid of choice, bring the soup to a boil and then let it simmer away until all the veggies are cooked through and the liquid is to your desired consistency.
Here are some tips:
- If you use meat, you can cook it first, but it’s not necessary (this is a great use for leftovers)
- Try and cut all your veggies to a similar size.
- For super small veggies, like peas or corn, add them closer to the end of the cooking time so they don’t get mushy
- Add startches like noodles or rice at the end. If they are uncooked (i.e. not leftovers), once you add them, cook the soup the additional amount of time equal to their cooking time. Otherwise, just ’til they warm up.
- Remember to season with herbs and salt and pepper.
- Build your soup on a theme, for example: Creamy Fish Chowder would be great with a cream base, a white fish, potatoes, onions, corn and some thyme, salt and pepper
Soup making is perfect for doing with the kids, because with all the various ingredients, there’s always something someone can chop, pour or measure. So, grab the kids and pick out some ingredients from the pantry to whip up your own batch of Do-It-Yourself Soup!
Happy Family Soup Making Everyone!
Kelly, Alex and Sophia