Whether you're pouring it out of a thermos or ladling it into a bowl, soup can warm you up -- or cool you down. It's a versatile dish, working well as a first course, a side (usually complementing sandwiches and salads), and even as a dessert. Hot or cold, sweet or savory, light or rich and creamy, soups can be as easy or as complicated as you want. And although making soups can sometimes seem laborious -- especially if it involves homemade stocks or broths -- you may reconsider when you sit down to savor the finished product.
Stock vs. Broth
While the words are usually used interchangeably nowadays, there is a difference: Stocks are made with bones whereas broths get their flavor from the meaty parts of beef, pork, poultry, or seafood.This video will show you how simple it is to create your own chicken stock.
Make It or Buy It?
There really is no comparison between homemade and store-bought stocks. Homemade provides an immediate richness that store-bought bases cannot offer. Homemade stocks also allow you, the cook, to control the quality (taste, texture) and quantity with fresh ingredients. Beware: Store-bought stocks and broths both typically have high levels of sodium. Some professionals would even advise using water as a substitute for store-bought stock. But if you're going the premade route, look a brand with no additives and a low sodium content (you can always add more salt).
Soups, stocks, and broths are easy to freeze. Use heavy-duty freezer bags or plastic containers, but be sure to leave some room for expansion as the liquids freeze. Identify the contents in writing, and be sure to mark down a use-by date (in general, three months). You can also freeze stock and broth in an ice cube tray and then transfer to freezer bags or plastic containers. When you're ready to use the cubes, melt them with boiling water.
Use Premium Ingredients
Obtain the freshest seasonal ingredients possible. This applies especially to produce used in chilled soups. Fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready for eating will deliver the most intense flavors. As for seasonings, try to fresh herbs when possible. For more information, check out our visual guide to fresh herbs.
The Building Blocks
Esther Sung first joined Epicurious.com in 2006. Prior to this, she spent several years in book publishing, including at Harper Entertainment, where the proverbial three-martini lunch was sadly nowhere to be found. When not in the office, she moonlights at the Bottle Shoppe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and through this she has developed a fondness for Syrah and Malbec. A quasi-vegetarian, she admits to having relished eating yuk hwe, a Korean raw beef dish.
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