Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Soup Day

For many years I thought soup only came out of cans. I knew you could get it at restaurants, but if you'd pressed me on the issues I probably thought they got their soup out of cans also. I don't know what magic soup maker I thought existed on the other side of the can, but that seems to be the general theory. 

Growing up we had soup at least once a week, usually on Sundays with tuna melts or grilled cheese, or even just a regular sandwich. The soup was always Campbells - Tomato or Mushroom. Usually a little bowl of both. Enter the belief that soup is can based. 

I also knew that at Thanksgiving and Christmas Dad would make Turkey soup with barley - now I did compute the fact that I watched him make that soup and he wasn't a magic can soup maker - but I didn't like that soup, so somehow I managed to put that aside. It seemed that even if you did try to make soup at home it would suck (sorry Dad, I realize now how awesome homemade turkey soup is - everyone else loved your soup) so there was no point in trying...and I assumed that most people have coped on to this fact, and therefore the soup can industry continued to thrive. When I joined Weight Watchers (age 22) they taught us to make zero point soup - it wasn't super tasty and I didn't love it. This only reinforced my soup as "crappy when homemade" theory. 

I became a Christian January 2006, I was 23. I was over visiting my christian aunt (who I'd avoided visiting before because of that christian thing - sad to look back and realize my soup world could have been rocked years earlier if I'd just visited her sooner!) who was cleaning up after a party. There was a leftover veggie tray and rather than throw the veggies out she chopped them up and threw them in some broth to make soup. I remember thinking, oh brother here we go again. Why do people keep trying? 

But then she did something magical - after the soup was cooked (and she'd added great flavors) she took her immersion blender and blended it so it was like a cream soup. She added a small amount of milk, but mostly by blending the veggies it felt nice and creamy. When she poured me a bowl of that soup, I was smitten. Never had homemade soup tasted like soup was supposed to! It's consistency, just like restaurant soup (high praise in my books). I was hooked. I immediately went out and bought myself an immersion blender (recalling that they are also great for using to make milkshakes - thanks for that Dad!) and thus started a love affair with homemade soups. 

I began with the WW Zero point soup - once blended that soup took on flavors and textures it had only previously dreamed about. I loved it. I began to make vegetable soup a staple in my home - I would make a big batch once a week and freeze it for lunches - it kept me healthy and eating happily. 

I started to branch out - sometimes adding potatoes for bulk, sometimes adding cream, sometimes just broth. I ventured into the high stakes world of pumpkin soup (side note, it's more onion soup with pumpkin overtures) with more success than expected and took a leap into spinach soup (just as much a garlic soup as a spinach). I became known, in all the corners of our house, as soup queen (not accurate - I just made that up). 

But some real challenges remained - the soup can industry had such a cap on Tomato Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup I had never dared try to recreate those. Tomato was illusive - try as I might my soup was so far from their perfect offering. Over the years I tried disappointing recipe after disappointing recipe. To this day Tomato Soup alludes me - and I mourn for it. And to even attempt Chicken Noodle - well...you can't even blend it. I knew that was one benchmark I would have to learn not to strive for. 

Well - I am proud to say that while Tomato still alludes me (though I've created one passable offering) Chicken Noodle Soup is now MINE. Specifically Turkey Noodle, but I'm confident in my ability to sub in chicken for turkey. Last night my confidence seemed to hit an all time high, the fates aligned; I'd found a great sounding recipe and had batches of homemade turkey stock in the freezer, so I went for it. With my homestay student Jessie's help we conquered Turkey Noodle Soup. 

You should have seen me - as I looked at the pot of perfect looking soup - restaurant quality! - I was jumping for joy. Fist pumps galore. Then the first taste - perfection. I couldn't stop looking at it - I had beaten cans! and lived to tell about it. 

On this high we turned to Taco Soup - I followed the recipe but added chunks of tortilla's that I had left in the fridge and some mexi-rice. This morning my kitchen was aromatic with the smell of rich Taco Soup. 

As I packaged these up to send with a friend to give out to youth on the downtown east side I felt like Soup Queen - maker of soups that don't suck. It's all I ever dreamed it would be. 

As a final note: may I recommend serving these soups with these Easy Garlic Cheddar Biscuits? They are easy and taste like you bought them (again, high praise in my world). They go perfectly with soup. 

It feels important to offer a disclaimer on the concept of Chicken Noodle Soup. While I'm stoked to know how to make the above soup (and make it again I will), when I am sick and I ask for chicken noodle soup that is not what I'm talking about. When sick, the only soup capable of healing an innocent cold victim is Lipton's Chicken Noodle. All noodle, no meat and veggies, light on the broth. Heaven. 


1 comment:

LeAnna said...

I really dislike leftover turkey soup, which seems to be a tradition in our family (for the parents to make it and the kids to hate it!).

My mum makes an awesome tomato soup. I think the key is she uses canned tomatoes from their garden. But it's chunky, so not like the Campbells one. And FYI, in England they do some weird stuff to tomato soup so it's not at all good. It's so starchy and not tomato-ey. Unless it's from a tin. And then it's ok.


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