The Gift of Soup

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Three Wise Men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

I brought soup.

Pumpkin-cashew soup with coconut and curry: Click on the pic for the how-to cooking video.

I am not sure whether my sister was kidding or not when she said a few months ago that she would pay me for my soup. Obviously I’m not charging money for my food—yet— and I sent her down a batch of pumpkin-cashew with coconut and curry over Thanksgiving. However, her soup request solved the whole “what should I get my sister for Christmas” dilemma. What better gift than homemade soup to warm up cold nights in the coming months of winter?

Step 1. Remove frozen veggie scraps from the freezer.

Thus began project soup, which filled a number of evenings in December. My soups utilized many of the hearty vegetables I purchased on black Friday at the Copley Square farmers’ market right before Thanksgiving. As well, I employed a bag of veggie scraps from my freezer to make a huge batch of stock, which formed the base for the soups. If you’re still not sure about making your own vegetable stock, I’d like to take this opportunity once again to encourage you to do so. It is really quite joyful! I mentioned in my veggie stock video that I keep a plastic bag in the freezer where I collect various peels and trimmings until I’m ready to make soup.

Step 2. Put frozen vegetables into a large stock pot, then fill with water.

All you do is toss the frozen veggies into a big pot of water with a teaspoon of salt or so (if you like) and bring it up to a boil. After simmering for about 45 minutes, strain out the veggies and you’re good to go. I’m not exactly sure why, but this batch was particularly tasty and yielded almost 16 cups. Making your own stock will bring down the price of your homemade soup. My store bought stock is about $3/quart, for example, so $12 in total to achieve 16 cups; I basically consider the homemade stock to be free as it is made from things that would be otherwise discarded. (Don’t get me started on the sodium issue; homemade soup is so much better for you and the environment for so many reasons.)

Less than 1 hour later: Beautfiul, rich vegetable stock

My stock was used as a base for four soups: winter squash, potato leek with smoked mackerel, wild mushroom with spinach, and butternut squash crab bisque. I didn’t take pictures of them, alas, but they were pretty amazing. (The mushroom soup also employed a stock made with dried porcini mushrooms.) Because I make soup in large batches, it is among the most efficient meals you can make: I had plenty of soup for several suppers for two in December alongside various quarts that went directly into the freezer for storage until seeing my sister today. I even had enough to make a few individual-sized portions to freeze for my husband for the next time I am out of town.

I have nothing amusing to say about these soups, unfortunately. But it pleases me that I was able to give this gift of love and health, delivered in person from my kitchen to my sister’s.

So much better than the holiday-themed tube top I was otherwise considering.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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