Soup season has arrived, and this month, we’re going to shake things up a bit, with a formula that will help you create sensational soups all season long—without a recipe. Keep these three flavor components in mind, and you’ll be able turn any collection of ingredients into a restaurant-worthy soup. Use whatever you have on-hand, and you’ll be set to warm up any day!
The foundation of any great soup is a rich, flavorful broth or stock. I prefer homemade, but many retailers now carry high-quality stocks and bone broths. You can also check your local farm stand or local butcher.
If using store-bought stock as the base for your soup, take a few minutes to help boost its flavor and body, by simmering it with a handful of chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Toss in some herbs and even some chicken bones if you happen to have them stashed away in your freezer. Even just 30 minutes of simmering will help make your finished soup a little more complex and flavorful.
Whether you’re making a classic chicken soup or a vegetarian minestrone, savory ingredients provide the umami and richness that help make soup so satisfying and comforting.
These can include meats, like bacon, pancetta, or sausage, as well as non-meat ingredients, like sauces and seasonings. Before adding the broth, reduce some soy sauce or balsamic vinegar with the other ingredients. Or stir in a prepared or homemade “poultry seasoning,” made from thyme, marjoram, and black pepper. Look for no-salt varieties. Other rich and savory spice blends include powdered mushroom or dried lemon peel.
During cooking, there are a variety of acidic ingredients that can help brighten the flavors in your finished soup. Think white wine, sherry, diced tomatoes, or olive brine. Add these ingredients before the broth, allowing them time to reduce.
Finished soup is calling for a little something extra? Give it a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a splash of cider vinegar. Even if it seems like an odd choice (like, in broccoli and cheddar soup, for example!), a dash of acid helps balance out flavors without adding too much of their own.