SOUP MAKING may be neither a fine art nor an exact science, but certainly it calls for a little of both. Combine the two—precision in proportions and imagination in the seasoning—and your culinary reputation is made.
The function of soup in introducing a meal is, I suppose, one reason for the importance of its quality. So much depends upon first impressions, and nowhere more than at the table.
In certain meals such as a good roast-beef dinner, all you ask of a soup is to provide a light savory appetizer, to develop the right mood for full enjoyment of the other courses as it were. Then a clear broth of a thin piquant variety is the wisest choice. On the other hand, a robust soup, full of nourishment and rich delicious flavor, is quite capable of taking its place as a main dish of the meal ; tickling the palate and satisfying the appetite at the same time.
Cream soups and chowders belong to this category and are the favorites in many households for several reasons. They are among the easiest to make—a fine way to get milk and fresh vegetables into the diet, and a fine way to use left-overs. And where is the man. woman or child who does not like them?
You can turn out a smooth white sauce? Then a cream of something or other will be no trouble at all, for the same technique is required in the making of both. The difference is in the proportion of thickening to liquid, and in the addition of vegetable pulp to the one blend. Practically every vegetable offers itself for the purpose, so a dozen soups more or less can be made from the following basic recipe:
2 Cupfuls of milk or
Milk and vegetable water 2 Tablespoonfuls of flour 1 to 2 Tablespoonfuls of butter 34 Teaspoonful of salt Pepper
V2 Cup of vegetable pulp
Melt the butter, add the flour and blend. Add the liquid, stirring constantly until thickened, then the seasonings and vegetable pulp.
As indicated, the liquid may be all milk, or milk and the water in which vegetables have been cooked, half and half, or any desired proportion. It is quite a good thing often to combine the two, the milk for richness and the vegetable water for flavor, vitamins and minerals. Evaporated milk is a good mixer and gives a creaminess of texture which is most agreeable.
The vegetable purée may be all one variety or a combination of two or three, provided the flavors harmonize, and the seasoning may be anything that adds a bit of distinction. So don’t talk to me of monotony !
EXCEPTION proves the rule in soup making as in other cases. For certain vegetables demand special treatment or an adaptation of the recipe to suit them. Potatoes, for instance, contribute some of their own starch and therefore save on the flour or other thickening ingredient. Some other
varieties are not the “mashy” kind, but may be diced, chopped or slivered and added to the milk mixture; then the soup is known as a bisque. The trick in combining tomato soup is to add the pulp gradually and carefully to the sauce, not the sauce to the tomato, or it will immediately show a dislike for its company. This is worth remembering, for tomato soup when it is good is very very good, but when it is bad it is horrid.
The vegetable flavor is not the only possibility for this nutritious and savory dish. What about oysters now that there is an “R” in the month? Or clams at any time? And salmon, which we have always with us, makes a remarkably fine supper soup, while the cod is excellent in an unthickened chowder. Cheese is grand if you add it at the last minute; in fact it is so fine a flavor that a little is often called upon to give character to the blander vegetable combinations, either added to the stock or sprinkled over the top before serving.
Even the thickening may be varied. Three-quarters of a tablespoonful of cornstarch will do the work of one tablespoonful of flour. Tapioca will take the place of either, and cracker crumbs can be counted on to give the desired body. Rice, macaroni and barley have a certain thickening quality and allowance should be made for this.
The real test aí a soup maker is in the seasoning. Some women are bom great in this respect, others achieve greatness by experience and experiment, but, sad to say. there are those who never get past the salt and pepper stage. Herbs, condiments and spices, used with discretion, make a good soup still better—a little celery salt in potato soup, a clove or two in tomato, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, or a hint of tabasco in others. The thing is to strive for that cunning flavor and seasoning which is very much a personal art. You don’t learn it
by rules, you develop whatever gift you have.
Of course, the short-cut method to good soup is to open a can, reheat and serve it according to directions. That's a case when greatness is thrust upon you. for the contents of the tin are real triumphs of culinary art. Don’t think for a minute either that there is no chance for individuality. Combine flavors when you feel a bit adventurous, make a few additions when you like, and serve with any attractive bit of garnish that occurs to you—whipped cream, grated cheese, chopped parsley, diced peppers, shredded carrots, slices of hard-cooked egg, a sprinkling of popped popcorn, prepared cereal and so on, as far as your imagination takes you.
It’s quite correct to serve soup either from the kitchen or at the table. Personally I prefer it ladled from a big tureen. I like its hospitable air and I like to know I can go back for more. And I am not particular whether it comes in the shallow soup plate or a cup so long as it is hot when it arrives.
What to serve with soup? Plain crisp sodas, saltines, toast fingers, croutons, cheese straws, tiny rolls, and even sandwiches are among the appropriate accompaniments which contribute an extra bit of pleasantness to the course.
Cream of Mushroom Soup
y2 Pound of fresh mushrooms
2 Cupfuls of boiling water
3 Bouillon cubes 3 Slices of onion
3 Tablespoon fuis of butter 3 Tablespoon fuis of flour 3 Cupfuls of rich milk Salt and pepper
Sliver the mushrooms and put in a saucepan with the water, beef cubes and onior slices. Simmer for twenty minutes. Melt
the butter in another pan. add the flour and blend, then stir into this the milk, and cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Combine the two mixtures, reheat and serve at once.
3 Medium large onions
2 Tablespoonfuls of butter 2Vz Cupfuls of milk Pepper and salt
1 Egg yolk
y Cupful of grated cheese
Slice the onions paper thin, and fry lightly with the butter. Heat the milk in a double boiler, add the seasonings and the onions, and cook for ten minutes. Combine with the beaten egg yolk and reheat two minutes longer, then add the grated cheese and serve at once.
1 Can of corn
2 Cupfuls of boiling water 2 or 3 Slices of onion
2 Tablespoon fuis of butter
2 Tablespoon fuis of flour
2 Cupfuls of milk
1 Teaspoon ful of salt Pepper
1 Tablespoon ful of chopped parsley
Chop the corn and simmer with the water and onion together for twenty minutes. Make a white sauce of the butter, flour, milk and seasonings. Combine the two mixtures and lastly add the parsley.
Rice and Celery Soup
1 Cupful of celery tops (chopped )
y Cupful of diced celery
1 Small onion y Cupful of rice
2 Teaspoon fuis of salt
3'2 Cupfuls of lx>iling water 2 Bouillon cubes 3J 2 Cupfuls of hot milk 1 Tablespoonful of butter
Cook the vegetables, rice and seasonings in the boiling water for half an hour or until the rice is tender. Dissolve the beef cubes in the hot milk apd combine. Add the butter just before serving.
Cream of Tomato Soup
1 Can tomatoes (No. 214)
2 Small onions
2 Celery stalks, or half teaspoonful of celery salt
1 Teaspoonful of sugar
2 Teaspoon fuis of salt li Teaspoonful of pepper \i Teaspoon ful of soda
1 Cupful of evaporated milk 1 Cupful of water
Heat the tomatoes with the onion, chopped celery and seasonings, for fifteen minutes. Strain. Dilute the evaporated milk with the water and heat. Add soda to the tomato pulp and pour gradually in the hot milk. Serve at once.
Cream of Salmon Soup
1 Tablespoon fuis of flour 1 Cupfuls of milk 1 Teaspoonful of salt Pepper
1 Small can, or half large can of
2 Tablespoonfuls of butter
Mix the flour smoothly with a little cold milk, then stir into the remaining milk which has been heated. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened, and add the seasonings. Drain the oil from the salmon and
break up into small even pieces, then add to the sauce. Reheat and add the butter. Serve garnished with a thin slice of lemon or a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
3 Tablespoonfuls of minute
2 Teaspoon fuis of salt
4 Cupfuls of rich milk
1 Cupful of oysters Paprika
4 Tablespoonfuls of butter
Add the tapioca and salt to the hot milk and cook in a double boiler until clear, stirring frequently. Add the oysters and paprika. Cook a few minutes longer, then add the butter and serve at once.
Shrimp and Vegetable Chowder
2 Tablespoon fuis of minute
Vi Teaspoonful of salt
3 Cupfuls of milk
2 Bouillon cubes
1 Cupful of diced celery
1 Cupful of water
1 Cupful of diced shrimp V¿ Cupful of cooked potatoes, cubed
3 Tablespoonfuls of butter Paprika
3 to 4 Soda biscuits
Put the milk in a double boiler and when | hot add the tapioca and salt. Cook about fifteen minutes or until the tapioca is clear, stirring frequently. Dissolve the bouillon cubes in the hot water, add the celery and cook together for five minutes, then combine with the milk and tapioca. Add the prepared ijotato and shrimp, then the butter I and seasoning. Just before serving add the ¡ biscuit crumbs.
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