Soup can be hot, cold, clear, thick, meat, vegetable, or fish. One good cook with long soupmaking experience considers ingenuity a necessary ingredient; she refers to her weekly concoction as Vermont Stone Soup.
The story of Stone Soup is an old one about three soldiers passing through a poor village where there was no food to eat for dinner. The leader of the three borrowed a stone and a pot, added water, and put the pot to boil over a fire.
It wasn't long before a kindly old woman brought a bit of carrot to add to the soup, another donated a potato, a third a piece of mutton, and so with a bit of this and a bit of that, the three soldiers dined sumptuously on Stone Soup.
Another fine cook, more fussy about the vegetables she puts in her soups says only the freshest will do and she never, never uses canned vegetables.
She feels good soup deserves good bread and when she goes to the trouble to make her own lentil or French pistou soup, she will make an interesting whole wheat loaf or popovers too. She is also the kind of cook who always makes piroshki to accompany cabbage borsch.
We are not all perfectionists, so the best way to start making soup is to begin with bones. Every time chicken is on the menu, cook up the leftover bones with a quantity of water. You may add a carrot, an onion, celery, and/or parsley.
Drain the resulting stock, cool it, remove the fat, and keep it in the freezer or the refrigerator. If the latter, boil it up every few days to keep it fresh. Now you are ready to begin.
Dried beans are a good source of winter soups. With or without a hambone, you can make a marvelous pea soup to warm you on winter evenings. Winter Pea Soup 1 pound split peas Butter or margarine 2 onions Few celery stalks with tops Chicken stock Hambone, optional Snow peas, optional Bean sprouts, optional
Chop onions and celery stalks finely and saute in a small amount of butter or margarine in a large pot.Do not brown. Wash and drain dried peas. Add peas, chicken stock and water to make 8 to 10 cups liquid. Salt lightly.If you have a hambone, salt may not be necessary; add bone with liquid. Cook covered about an hour on longer, stirring occasionally.
De-stem snow peas and cut into small pieces. Add with bean sprouts to soup about 5 minutes before serving. You may also add thinly sliced sausages or garnish with croutons or with tomato puree.
French fish soups rely on stock and tomatoes for a base. We are more apt to hark back to New England's milk based chowders for a filling fish soup. Here is a family recipe for fish chowder that can be made with haddock or cod. New England Chowder 4 medium potatoes 1 pound haddock 2 or 3 strips bacon 1 medium onion Milk Parsley 1 to 2 tablespoon butter Salt, pepper.
Peel and boil potatoes until done, then cut in cubes. Simmer haddock in water until tender; remove skin and bones and dice coarsely. Fry bacon strips, drain, crumble into small bits. In bacon fat or in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, fry onion, chopped or diced, until tender.
Combine above ingredients in a pot and add milk to cover by about two inches. Heat, but do not allow to boil. Add about 2 teaspoons chopped parsley and 1 to 2 tablespoons butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Fish chowder is always better the second day, so make it ahead if you can. Barley Vegetable Soup 5 cups water 1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained 3 beef bouillon cubes 2/3 cup regular barley 1 cup carrot slices 1 cup white turnip, chopped 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch slices 3/4 cup chopped onion 2/3 cup chopped green pepper 1 bay leaf 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon basil leaves, crushed
Combine water, tomatoes and bouillon cubes in 4-quart Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until bouillon cubes are dissolved. Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces with wooden spoon. Stir in barley. Reduce heat. Cover; simmer about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover; simmer about 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Makes 3 quarts of soup.