Articles & Recipes

Sensational Soups

February 26, 2019

Soup is not just another meal — it’s comfort in a bowl, love on a spoon, satisfaction simmering on the stove. Nothing makes a house feel more like a home than a pot of freshly made soup. And all this goodness comes together so easily. Whether you make it all from scratch, starting from the stock up, or you purchase stock and a few other ingredients for a quick and easy meal, soup will never fail you.

In a perfect world, everyone would make soup with homemade stock. Stock, made from scratch, with quality ingredients, can elevate a soup from simple to sublime. And the good news is, stocks are much easier to make than most home cooks think. Though stocks can cook for hours, most of that time is not hands-on. And, of course, your home will smell heavenly whenever you have stock simmering on the stove.

If you’re going to make stock, it makes sense to make it in large quantities. For that reason, we’ve made the investment in an extra-large stockpot that holds multiple gallons. But if you don’t have a large enough pot, you can make stock in two pots or cut the recipe in half. The terms “stock” and “broth” are often used interchangeably in cookbooks. While both are made from simmering water with meaty bones and aromatics, there is a distinct difference between the two.

A stock is the foundation of a dish. It can be reduced and used in any number of ways, from soups and stews to complex sauces. A broth can be served on its own or with simple additions such as noodles or vegetables, and is more highly seasoned than stock. Due to the level of seasoning in broth, it is not intended to be reduced significantly because it can become overly seasoned or salty.

Purchased broth is an alternative that many cooks turn to when time is of the essence. While it will save you time in the kitchen, it will never approach the depth of flavor of a homemade stock. There are a few good reasons homemade stock is superior to purchased. The most glaring difference is the amount of salt found in purchased broth. Manufacturers often add large amounts of salt to their broths as a way to mask a lack of flavor. Sometimes you will find artificial colorings in broth, as well as a chemical aftertaste. That being said, there are a few stocks and broths on the market that we’ve found to be superior to others. We had good results when using Swanson’s broths, especially the low-sodium organic varieties sold in the aseptic (or cardboard) containers.

Recently, Swanson’s has introduced a product called Cooking Stock, which we also like. It has a nice depth of flavor and can be successfully reduced, which makes it great for both soup and sauces. We never use a store-bought broth or stock that isn’t low-sodium, and we’re careful not to buy those with artificial colors or flavors. We don’t recommend bouillon cubes, because of their salty nature and off-flavors.

~Meredith Deeds & Carla Snyder, authors of 300 Sensational Soups



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