Freezer and Storage Soups

One of my off-season joys is making an easy meal that tastes as though it took time and effort to create. Soup is among the easiest—and I’m not talking poured out of a can.

Sure, there can be a lot of time-consuming dicing and mincing for freshly made soup. By planning ahead, I eliminate nearly all of that effort at mealtime. I also ensure the produce carries all the flavor my garden can generate; with a little extra effort at harvest time, there’s no need to buy a mealy tomato or flavorless broccoli.

This week, I offer you two soup recipes that I can make on a moment’s notice because their ingredients are staples in my house in winter. They’re staples because during harvest, I dry-store potatoes, dry-store or freeze onions and garlic, dehydrate smoked chilies and herbs, and freeze cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and Vegetable Stock. Hopefully this list of links and the recipes that follow will inspire you to take similar steps as you grow or buy local food in the next few months.
Learn to make Spanish Potato–Garlic Soup and Italian Broccoli–Pasta Soup

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Broccoli

One of the few vegetables I always blanch is broccoli. For years I skipped blanching before freezing altogether. As I mention elsewhere on this blog, blanching affects food quality rather than food safety, and I wasn’t really tasting the difference with most vegetables. Besides, I grill corn, onions, eggplant, and most other veg before freezing, which makes a blanch step redundant.

Broccoli, I’ve learned, is a big exception. Frozen raw, it ends up tasting bitter and woody, even when you add cheese and stock to make a soup. I opt to place the chopped stems and florets in a steamer basket instead of plunging them into the boiling water. Hervé This explains in Kitchen Mysteries that hydrogen ions ultimately are responsible for cooked vegetables appearing brown instead of green. Putting vegetables directly into water only increases their contact with hydrogen. Learn to steam-blanch broccoli and make Broccoli Cheese Soup

30-Minute Soups

Soup. That short word has endless variations. A walk down the canned soup aisle, a price check of a gourmet carton, or a search for a soup recipe is enough to convince anyone that making a steaming, scrumptious pot from scratch is a complex, challenging process. But soup is as simple as the word. This dish is an excellent place to take the leap from following a recipe to improvising a meal.

At its most basic, soup is four components: a base, a thickener, a liquid, and a main ingredient. The liquid and main ingredient can be thought of as the essence: add 3 parts liquid to 2 parts main ingredient, and it’s soup. Add a base to boost the flavor and a thickener to improve the texture, and you’re competing with that gourmet carton. But it’s likely you’ve never seen a recipe that puts it this way—until now. Learn to make Fresh Improv Soup and 30-Minute Cherry Tomato Soup