Is there anything better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold day? The great part of cooking soup is that you can throw pretty much anything in a pot, let it cook low and slow and end up with a healthy and delicious meal. In honor of National Soup Month, Woodside Executive Chef, Michael Giampetruzzi, shares all of his secrets for making a great soup.
My grandparents were Hungarian and owned a 60-acre farm in Ellsworth, Maine where they raised livestock like cows, chickens, goats and grew every vegetable you can imagine. I grew up watching my grandma make food for the family using what they produced off they land. Hungarian food is centered around “meat and potatoes” type dishes and there I learned how to make stews, home-made noodles, breads and hearty soups. At a very young age, I watched my grandpa break down an animal in his workshop and I came to realize the importance they placed on using every part of the animal that they raised. Parts and scraps that were normally thrown away were used to make bases or stocks for things we ate. There was no waste on the farm and I try to use that mindset in any kitchen I run to this day.
Soup making to me is all about depths of flavor and knowing what ingredients go well together. Seasoning your soup correctly can completely change the course of your meal. Sometimes a little extra salt or acidity is all you need to bring out the flavors in your soup. I always like to start my soups with a mirepoix. Mirepoix is a French term and consists of cooking carrot, onion and celery together. I like to cook my mirepoix on low heat in butter and add a few minced garlic cloves at the end. I also like to add salt at this time to draw out some of the moisture in the vegetables. Then, I go in with a protein, broth or cream of some sort, more vegetables and spices and let it cook low and slow tasting and adding to it along the way.
The best part about soups is that you can play around with a lot of different styles and flavors. Take the base from above and stir in some curry paste and coconut milk, add some veggies of choice and voila! You have a nice chicken curry. Don’t like curry? Thinking vegetarian? Add cauliflower florets, top with water, bring to a simmer and gently puree. Boom! You have a tasty cauliflower soup. When cooking soups try and use your imagination and don’t be afraid to get creative – sometimes that little spark of creativity can create the meal of your dreams.
Below is a list of ingredients and spices I like to have on hand in my kitchen.
Fruits + Vegetables: Garlic, Onions, Carrots, Celery, Potatoes, Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lemons and Limes
Proteins: Beef, Chicken, Legumes
Liquids: Coconut Milk, Chicken Stock, Soy Sauce, Olive Oil, Vinegars
Fresh Spices: Parsley and Cilantro
SPICE PANTRY STAPLES:
A Good Italian Seasoning Blend
Curry Powder or Paste