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Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018 12:01 am

Soups for the freezer

 

Now that cool fall temperatures have finally arrived, my soup pot will be in regular use. We eat soup several nights a week in my house, and I honestly wouldn’t be able to feed my family made-from-scratch meals so consistently were it not for the arsenal of soups I’ve stashed away in the freezer.

Most soup recipes are cost-effective, relatively simple to prepare, and actually improve after sitting overnight in the fridge. In addition to being delicious and practical, most soups are quite nutritious. My grandmother’s vegetable soup recipe contains a laundry list of vegetables, which, if served alone, would never be willingly eaten by my young daughter. However, when suspended in a rich, lightly spiced broth, she gladly gobbles them up.

When I make soup I never make a single batch. It’s easy enough to double most recipes, and if you’re going to dirty up the soup pot, you might as well get several meals out of it. It’s important to use a large pot with a heavy bottom to prevent scorching, especially if you’re going to be making a thicker soup, such as chili or potato soup.

An immersion blender is one of my favorite kitchen tools and is extremely useful when making pureed soups. If you want to puree soup in a regular blender, make sure it has cooled first. Blending hot soup will cause pressure to build up and cause the lid to explode off the blender, spattering both you and your kitchen with scorching hot soup.

When making soup to enjoy later, it’s important to chill the soup down before putting it in the fridge. It can take up to a full day for a big pot of thick, hot soup to fully chill in the refrigerator, making spoilage more likely. One of the easiest ways to rapidly chill a pot of soup is to place it in a sink full of cold water, then stir the soup every five minutes or so. Change the water once it gets warm, and in this way the soup will have chilled down to room temperature within 30 minutes.

If planning to freeze a soup recipe that contains noodles, freeze it without the noodles. When ready to eat, boil the noodles in the thawed-out soup before freezing to prevent them from becoming mushy.

GRANDMA’S VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP

1 pound beef chuck roast
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 or 5 tomatoes, diced (or use 1 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes)
1/3 cup hulled barley
3 quarts unsalted beef or chicken broth
2 carrots, diced
1 medium-sized turnip, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
12 oz green beans (a large handful), trimmed and cut into ½-inch lengths
2 cups sliced green cabbage or kale
1 16 oz bag frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup corn kernels, either fresh or cut off the cob
1 cup prepared bloody mary mix
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown the beef well on all sides in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over high heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic, tomatoes, hulled barley and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until meat is fork-tender (this step can also be done in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours).

Remove the meat from the broth. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat and set aside.

To the hot broth, add the remaining vegetables (except the peas), bloody mary mix, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, allspice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the reserved meat and the peas and taste for seasoning.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP

1 pound bacon
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloved garlic, minced
1 large head cauliflower, stems and florets roughly chopped
3 quarts unsalted chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley

Roughly chop the bacon and fry it until crisp in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Remove the bacon pieces to drain on a paper towel and set aside. Add the diced onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pot along with a generous pinch of salt and sauté briefly until softened and lightly browned. Add the cauliflower and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add the cream and simmer for 20-30 minutes until cauliflower is very tender. Mash cauliflower with a potato masher for a more chunky soup or puree in a blender for a smooth, creamy soup. Garnish with the crisp bacon and chopped parsley.

CHICKEN AND WILD RICE SOUP

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 ounces wild rice
3 quarts unsalted chicken broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ cup heavy cream
3 cups cooked shredded chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped parsley, to garnish

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the diced vegetables, garlic and bay leaves along with a generous pinch of salt and sauté until softened and lightly browned. Add the wild rice, broth and maple syrup, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until rice is tender. Add the cream and shredded chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Contact Ashley Meyer at ashley@realcuisine.net

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