Homemade soup is easy, and it's always comforting. Whether or not my kids reach for the occasional can of soup, I want them to know how to make an economical, easy version from scratch, so they can have a healthy meal any day of the week.
I like to make my own stock. (True story: I recently requested my fish in a restaurant be decapitated before it was cooked, so I could take home the raw fish head to make stock. Delicious!) You can tell when we're out of stock, because I serve roasted chicken, knowing I'll use the carcass to make a new batch soon.
While I'll definitely teach my kids how to make an easy stock, it may also be one of those things I bring every time I come to visit — assuming they don't live on the other side of the world. It will be a fun conversation piece. "Dude. Why do you have all this weird yellow stuff in the freezer?" "Oh, my mom brings it for soup. You know, moms are weird. Want to chop this onion and I'll make chili?"
Read more → Make or Buy? Chicken Stock
If they just can't make it themselves, I'll recommend they include canned or boxed chicken or vegetable stock on their list of staples, something they should buy in bulk when it's on sale.
9 Easy Beginner Tips for Better Soup
Here are a few pointers I gave them for making soup from scratch:
- Start with a roux for a thicker soup. This was a simple cooking technique I didn't know when I was younger. When I finally discovered it, it was a game changer.
- Cook onions, garlic, a mirepoix, or any longer-cooking vegetable in the roux until the vegetables soften a bit. They'll cook quicker without all that liquid.
- Heat your stock before adding it to the main pot. Once your vegetables are cooking, you don't want to stop the process with cold liquid.
- Let your stock and soup ingredients warm up and blend before you season. You can always add more salt or other seasonings later.
- The easiest soup is a blended soup. All of my children will be issued a Pbrrrt for their first kitchen.
- Save your leftovers and turn them into soup. One of my favorite meals to make at home for lunch is leftovers stirred into stock. Leftover pot roast can be transformed into a quick pho. Vegetables scraps become a comforting vegetable stew with the addition of stock and a chopped tomato. Noodles are perfect for stirring into a single serving of hot-and-sour soup.
- Drop an egg in it. I love adding my leftovers to stock, then stirring in an egg when the soup is heated through. It makes the soup heartier and gives it a lovely texture.
- A lot of soups can be adapted for the slow cooker. And you can probably get a perfectly serviceable slow cooker at a thrift store for cheap.
- Always make extra, and freeze it in individual portions. No more need for canned soup!
While I hope they'll learn to improvise, I'll give them a few "real" recipes to get started.
From The Kitchn:
- Cream of Tomato. If they can master this and a grilled cheese, they'll be just fine.
- Egg Drop.
- Pumpkin Chili. No, this isn't a basic soup, but it's my recipe, they like it, and it feeds a crowd.
- Chicken Noodle. So easy, so good.
- French Onion. Bonus: They'll learn how to caramelize onions.
- Soup from Almost Any Vegetable. This post is a great start to learning the art of improvisation.
From Around the Web:
- Corn, Bacon, and Clam Stew from Food52. This is a family favorite, easily modified to be a one-dish meal.
- Quick Butternut Squash Soup from Food.com. And I'll make sure they know that any winter squash will do, including pumpkin.
- Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Gumbo from Epicurious.
- Grouper Chowder from The Shop Tart, my old blog. I've been making this for years, and the kids could make it with whatever kind of fish they had.
What did I miss? Would you add any essential soups to the list?
10 Kitchen Lessons for My Teenage Kid
I've decided to be a little more methodical about teaching my sons to cook. So this week and next I'm counting down the ten essentials I think my 14-year-old absolutely has to master before he flies the nest.