Soups served with a meal should compliment the rest of the meal. It should set the tone for what will follow.
If you are having a very big dinner with several courses, a nice light soup works well. There’s no need to get full on the first part of the meal.
I cooked a roasted red pepper soup at Elysia Resort that was followed by five more courses. This light soup set up the rest of the gourmet dinner.
There are some soups that are a meal in themselves and when served with a bun and a little cheese they do indeed become the main course.
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I guess one of the reasons I like cooking soup is because there are a gazillion different ways to make a gazillion different soups. I once was looking for a particular borscht recipe and one cookbook stated there are as many ways to make borscht as there are Russians.
And that’s just one type of soup. Sometimes making a good soup is an excellent way to clean out the leftovers in the fridge. Throw some chicken stock in a pot, add some left over chicken, put in some onion, celery, carrots and whatever other vegetable are handy, then add some spices or herbs and, voila, you have a meal.
Tasty, nutritious and quick.
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If I have time I will make soup stock from scratch because it always seems to taste just a wee bit nicer than stock from a can. There are so many good stocks on the grocery shelves these days and let’s face it, it doesn’t take much time to open a can or tear open a pack and put it in the pot.
Chowders are one of my favourite types of soup, so I hunted around my old recipes and I found a nice Hearty Bean Chowder, just great on a cool Cariboo day.
HEARTY BEAN CHOWDER
• 3 slices bacon
• 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 3/4 tsp sesame oil
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup water
• 1 (19 ounce) can white beans, drained
• 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, undrained
• 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
• One pinch ground black pepper
• Salt to taste
Sauté bacon until crisp.
Remove the bacon and keep about two tablespoons of fat in the pot, add the flour and stir well to form a roux.
Heat the roux until it is brown, about five minutes.
Add the onions, celery, sesame oil and carrots to the roux and saute for two minutes, stirring well.
Add the garlic and heat for two more minutes.
Add the water and stir well.
Finally, add the white beans, black beans, cayenne pepper to taste and ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for two hours, or until the vegetables and beans are tender and the soup is the consistency you want.
Add a little more water if the soup is too thick. Put the bacon in the soup and season with salt to taste.
Bye for now and Goood Cooking.
Ken Wilson is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.