How to Make a Soup Without a Recipe


When you want to make soup, you may have things around to use, but don't know which recipe to choose, or feel like following a recipe. Maybe you just don't feel like shopping. Here is an easy answer - make a great soup without really trying or following a recipe.

To make soup without a recipe, think of your soup in two basic parts. Stock, and the finished soup. Many different and delicious soups can be made, using all sorts of ingredients most basic cooks will have in their kitchens.

Part 1

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A two quart (1.89 liter) pot is minimum, but 4-8 quarts (3.7 liters - 7.6 liters) would be best.

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Basic ingredients include meat, vegetables, grains, legumes, or fruit. Other potential ingredients include spices, herbs, acid (like vinegar or lemon juice), and fat (like butter or cream). Some basic soup styles include savory, sweet, or sour; hot or cold; heavy or light; cream or clear (consommé). Divide your ingredients into those for the stock, and those for the finished soup.

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Dry beans require pre-cooking, either by an over-night soak, or a 2 hour soak in water that is first brought to a boil, then turned off and covered. You can speed things up by using canned beans. Grains such as buckwheat or brown rice need up to an hour to cook (see the package for cooking time).

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For the stock, start with water, and flavor it with vegetables, cooked or raw meat, fresh fish parts, canned stock or dry cubes, or even just plain onions. After your stock is made, you'll have to add new ingredients to make the finished soup, so make sure you don't use everything in the stock.

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After your stock has simmered for a while (half hour to an hour for vegetables only, 1+ hours for stock with meat); remove all of the stock ingredients and discard them. Filter the stock through a cheesecloth or strainer, if necessary. If you've used meat, and you have the time, cool the stock to separate any extra fat - put the stock in the refrigerator and wait for the fat to rise to the top and solidify, then scoop off with a spoon.

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Add dry beans (soaked) and hard grains with the meats, or at the beginning of making a vegetable soup.

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For pure vegetable soups, add the vegetables at the beginning of boiling. For meat soups, add the vegetables at least half an hour after beginning to boil the meats. Wash, peel (if desired), and cut vegetables into uniform bite-sized pieces before adding them to the soup

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Remove all meat bones. You may cool the soup now and finish cooking later, or even on the next day. If you do, skim off any hardened meat fat before re-heating it.

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Soft foods such as pasta and risoni don't need a lot of cooking and will disintegrate if they're overcooked. Leave them for the last few minutes of cooking.

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(Warning: Hot liquids are very unpredictable in blenders. Be sure to start slowly or else the liquid may explode out the top and burn you!) Take small batches of the solid foods and whirl them with a bit of the stock. Return it to the pot or a separate bowl temporarily. Then return all the pureed soup to the pot and keep it warm.

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Add up to a cup of milk, cream or half-and-half to the soup, and let it become hot. Do not boil it.

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