With the cold chill of winter just around the corner, this is the time to start thinking about cooking some of the best meals possible for this time of year. Soups are a great comfort food, and can be prepared with so many types of ingredients, in so many ways, that it is difficult to go wrong. Here are several tips and tricks to help you create the best soups possible to last you through the winter.
The base is simply what type of liquid you put the veggies and other ingredients in. You can make it plain and simple, or complex enough to be the main flavour of the soup. There are many options out there, and here are the most popular ones:
- milk alternative
This can include anything that isn't an actual piece of food, yet adds a large amount of flavour that creates the style of soup you want to make. Choose asian-style flavours for a chinese won ton, or spice it up to make a mexican taco soup. Here are the flavours most people use:
- herbs (fresh or dried)
- hot peppers
- miso paste
- tomato paste, soup, puree, or strained tomatoes
This is, of course, optional, but it is a great addition if you are looking for the complete-meal experience.
- corn flour
- flax seeds
- noodles or pasta
- bread crumbs or pieces
Soups don't necessarily need protein, but it is a good addition if you want something hearty and filling. There are many types you can use, such as:
- legumes of all sorts: garbanzos, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, mung beans, etc.
- nuts (I recommend grinding them or blending them to a paste, though)
- sesame seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- cheese or meat alternatives
- hemp seeds
Pretty much all soups contain at least one type of vegetable, and most often they contain more than one. Here, my suggestion is to follow what you would want to do. There are tons of types of soups that you can play around with, and the sky is the limit. However, if you are looking to make a warm soup, some aren't made to be cooked, such as cucumbers, radishes, avocado, or dry veggies like sundried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms. Radishes, cucumbers and avocadoes make wonderful cold soups for hot summer days, so that option is still available.
People sometimes either make a fruit-based soup - which is normally cold - or add some of the easy to mix and cook fruits to their soups. For example, mangoes can easily be added to a sweet-based pumpkin spice soup, along with cashews. The flavour blends well and they are not too sweet to overpower the flavour of the soups. However, since fruits don't mix well with other types of food, it is highly recommended to keep this to a minimum.
One suggestion for great soups is to roast your garlic, tomatoes and peppers first - and maybe some other veggies - to bring out the flavour. It will add an unexpected kick that will surely please you.
And, if you are looking for a great soup that works as a natural cleanse and detoxifier, blend your veggies to make a cream soup. The easier it is to digest, the better it is for your system.
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