Soups for the Soul

“A good soup is like a hug for your soul from the inside.”

Winters in the north east can get cold … and I mean really cold.  Depending on where you are, the temperature can get down to the single digits.  Don’t get me wrong – I do love the cold.  More than the heat, in fact.  This is especially true when it snows and I get to come home to a nice, hot, soul warming bowl of soup.  Because I don’t get to come home to a nice hot pot of soup since I live alone, it’s important these soups are relatively quick and easy to make – and many of these are.

Growing up, I actually never really enjoyed soup believe it or not.  I tended to think of it more as a beverage than a course or a dish because every time I was thirsty my mother would reply “drink some soup”.  Being more meal-like, as you know, soups are not particularly thirst quenching – nor are they meant to be per se.  We’d like to think that the best ones are hearty and filling, after all.

If you grew up in a mixed cultural environment – in my case, Taiwanese at home and western outside – you had the opportunity to be exposed to very different conceptions of how certain otherwise similar dishes were composed.  Soup was very much one of those things.

Asian and western soups are so different.  The Asian soups I grew up with were typically protein based soups with broths developed by boiling down bones, meats, herbs, and spices for the base.  Western soups however, are commonly thick, hearty, rich vegetable or cream based soups.  I admit, as far as meals go, I actually favored western soups over Asian soups growing up.  To me, Asian soups were little more than flavored water and were neither interesting, nor tasty.  This is no longer the case, of course, now having much more of an appreciation for the subtleties of the flavors and the thought that goes into the composition of the soup.  As a child though, I always preferred rich, thick soups if I were to have one at all since I enjoyed the robustness of flavor and the more substantial body of the dish.  Today, both have a special place in my heart.

Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite soups by category and as I have time to fill in the recipes, they’ll be linked from here as well.

Purées

Grab a blender, you’ll need one for most of these.  I recommend this one from Cuisinart.

  • Potato, Spinach, and Bacon (~25 mins)
  • Potato, Leek (~25 mins)
  • Potato, Broccoli (~25 mins)
  • Lentil
  • Split Pea
  • Cauliflower  (~35 mins)
  • Curried Butternut Squash (~60 mins)
  • White Bean Soup
  • Ribollita Toscana (~45 mins)

Note: I will stay this unapologetically – I have a particular abhorrence for soups and recipes which call for flour, cream, or corn starch as a thickener.  To me, this is both unhealthy and a “cheat” so if I am looking at a recipe which calls for using either of these methods as a thickening agent, I immediately throw it out.  I feel very strongly about this.  If cream is being added for flavor, so be it, but I will never use it as a thickening agent.

 

Broths

  • Phò (~6 hours)
  • Chicken Soup (~30 mins – 2 hours)
  • Ginger and Ginseng Chicken Soup / Sam Gae Tang (~90 mins)
  • Drunken Chicken Soup
  • Miso Soup
  • Egg Drop Soup
  • Soondubu
  • Winter Melon Soup

 

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