Cooking up some comfort
An amateur's guide to soup making
It's a cold day and while I may not be Rachael Ray, my first name is Rachel and my middle Renee. I have no culinary training.
What I do have, though, is the basics to a nice bowl of soup for a horribly cold day like this (I'm a Texan — to me this weather may as well be the Arctic).
I first started making soups in college to save money and time. Soups make a massive number of servings (especially for a single girl) and freeze well — perfect for anyone on budget.
Before I give my soup basics, let me pass on the greatest lesson I've learned over the years — trust your instincts. Time and time again I've followed a recipe to a tee (because its the recipe and recipe rules are set in stone) and ended up regretting it.
When following my directions below, trust your instincts. I don't give exact measurements, so you really don't have a choice.
Step 1: Pick your sausage
For my soup, I usually use about two links of sausage and remove the casing. Cut the sausage into chunks and put into a pot (like a smaller stock pot).
Cook over medium heat until it has color all around. I sometimes cook it all the way through, but that can leave the meat a little tough.
Step 2: Add broth
If I'm using chicken sausage, obviously I use a chicken broth. If I'm using a pork sausage, I may go with beef broth. I buy boxed broth because I don't have the time to create my own broth.
Add around 6 — 8 cups of broth to the cooked meat.
Step 3: Roots, veggies and herbs
Carrots, potatoes (all kinds), yucca, garlic, onions, shallots, calabaza, zuccini, squash and celery all make great additions to a soup.
And don't forget herbs — cilantro, oregano, basil and dill are great — just don't get too crazy. My amateur way of picking herbs for a soup is to smell what I'm cooking, then smell the herb. If it smells good together, I add it.
Once I combined jalapeno chicken sausage with cilantro, onion, calabaza and potatoes. It was spicy and delicious.
Another time I used a pork sausage with beef broth and then an assortment of roots and oregano. It was great.
Just be sure to cut your roots or veggies into chunks and add the harder veggies, like carrots, first. I add the roots and veggies in before the broth reaches a boil. Add herbs when it's reached a light boil.
You know the soup is ready when all roots are cooked through. Simmer with a lid on to blend the flavors.
Remember, soup freezes well and often tastes better over the next couple of days. Enjoy!
Maybe you're an amateur cook and have a recipe of your own to share. Feel free to post it below!