We're all aware of the sticker shock experienced at the grocery checkout. Food costs are soaring, with the latest numbers revealing an overall increase of 40% in food costs, just in the last year! It seems difficult to revamp our menus with alternative dishes that keep our food budgets intact. However, there's no need to despair. With a little imagination and a few good soup recipes, you can work wonders for your wallet, while still serving meals that are nutritious and tasty. Serving a hearty soup for dinner just once a week goes a long way to taming that out-of-control food bill. Here, we've got some soup recipe essentials to get you started.
There are several types of soup recipe bases from which to begin: a broth may be made with meat, poultry, fish or vegetables. Another soup base is a milk based broth to which you can add a chicken or seafood bouillion to complement your choice of meat. You can easily tailor your soup to meet special dietary needs, such as those diners who are diabetic or those simply want to cut back on carbs, as well as pleasing vegetarians. Fish and seafood soups are low in fat and high in the valuable Omega-3s our doctors laud as part of a healthy eating program. Gourmet soup? Sure. Let's first talk about how to make your broth bases.
Meat and poultry soup bases may be created in one of two ways. You can use bouillion cubes of beef or chicken for a quick and easy broth. A more economical approach is to use the traditional method of simmering beef bones or a whole chicken in a stockpot for a few hours, which yields marrow which serves to both thicken and flavor the broth. This technique doesn't require much effort or watching?you only need to skim the pot of surface fats every now and then. The traditional method yields a more flavorful broth in greater quantity at less expense. For a vegetable broth, you may find it more economical to purchase a ready-made broth, considering the price of produce these days.
When you make a meat or poultry based broth for your soup recipe, remove the bones or meats from the pot and allow the meat to cool to a temperature you can safely handle to remove the meat and fat. Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. You may choose to save chicken skin and fat to freeze for later use in gravies. While the broth is simmering, chop up your vegetables and meat. Since the meat is already cooked, add it back in to the pot shortly before serving. Toss your vegetables in to the pot and cook until almost done. Add appropriate seasonings just a half hour before the broth is done. About ten minutes before serving, add the chopped meat back in to the soup.
Most veggies go well with beef and chicken soups. Potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, sweet peppers, corn and cauliflower are excellent, providing you with a colorful and nutritious mix.
For a cream based soup recipe, all you need is butter, flour and milk. You can use whole, low-fat or skim milk to suit your dietary needs. You begin with the roux, as follows. Melting the butter over low heat, then add flour, a tablespoon at a time, whisking the mixture all the while, until it forms a fairly thick paste. Cook at low heat for at least 10 minutes, to cook off the 'floury' taste, before adding your milk. Keep whisking during the whole process to avoid burning your roux. The roux should have a nut-like aroma by the time you begin to add the milk. Add the milk slowly, starting with about a cup. As the roux and milk begin to thicken, you can increase the amount of milk you add at one time. Continue adding the milk until the sauce is a thickness of your liking. You may also substitute up to half of the milk with chicken broth for a more flavorful soup recipe.
Veggies which are particularly tasty in cream based soup recipes include mushrooms, onions (green or sweet, or both), water chestnuts, corn, potatoes and sweet peppers.
Soup recipes are perhaps one of the easiest of recipes to tackle, for both novice and experienced cooks. A good soup relies heavily on the broth and your imagination. Don't neglect little bits of leftover veggies idling in the frig. Just toss them in the soup pot near the end of cooking time.
With a large stock pot and a free Saturday morning, you can whip up several family sized meals. Freeze what you don't use tonight and pencil the remainder in for future menus. You can then have dinner on the table in a hurry on busy days.
Making soup recipes with this anything goes technique saves you a bundle on your food bill. Serve your soup with a dinner salad and a loaf of crusty bread for a family treat!
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