A month for soupWhile January is designated National Soup Month by food manufacturers, any month — or day for that matter — is the perfect time for a pot of goodness.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
Have you ever had any thoughts about what your favorite food is to prepare? Or if you were given the choice of only one, what it would be?
For most people who love to cook, those might be hard questions to answer, but not for me. Without a doubt, soup is No. 1 on my list of things to make.
And while January is designated National Soup Month by food manufacturers, any month — or day for that matter — is the perfect time for a pot of goodness.
Of course, winter is usually the most popular time of the year for eating soup because with it comes cold weather. And if one food conjures up comfort, which sometimes can be hard to come by during the chilly winter months, it is soup, especially the homemade variety. (I have to admit that canned soup these days is much tastier and healthier than it used to be. The Progresso brand and Campbell’s Heart-Healthy low-fat, low in cholesterol lower in sodium varieties immediately come to mind.)
Hardly a week goes by from November through April when a pot of soup can’t be found simmering on our gas stove. In fact, that’s probably the case most weeks during the rest of year, too. It’s a rare week when I don’t fix soup.
Recently, I finished off a batch of homemade soup that contained several vegetables from my garden, including carrots, rutabagas, turnips and onion. The base was pheasant broth — made with necks and backbones — which I stockpiled during the fall. It’s far better than canned broths because it contains virtually no fat and is salt-free. Pearled barley, a little basil and oregano, salt and pepper rounded out the ingredients.
My affection for homemade soup goes back to my childhood. My dad made the best homemade vegetable beef soup. I relished coming home after a late-night adventure and finding a kettle of the soup cooling on the back porch. I usually didn’t even bother putting it in a bowl, eating it right out of the pot, which would have gotten me in hot water with my mom if she ever found out.
That wasn’t the only kind of homemade soup we had. My mom’s homemade tomato soup, which contained whole tomatoes and milk, is among the best of that kind I’ve tasted. There also was the occasional chicken soup with homemade dumplings.
There are several reasons why I like homemade soup so much. Not only is it tastier than canned versions, there are so many combinations and possibilities. You often can make it by using what you have on hand or by picking up just a couple of ingredients.
And pairing soup with the right side can make it a complete meal. (What you serve on the side really depends on what type of soup it is. For example, many people like cornbread with chili and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.)
Soup also is one of the original “fast foods.” (As early as 600 B.C., the Greeks apparently sold soup as a fast food on the street, using peas, beans and lentils as main ingredients.) Once soup has been made, heating it up for a quick meal is a snap.
But probably what’s sold me on homemade soup more than anything is that it’s healthier and a good way to lose weight.
And after all the less-than-healthy food I ate over the holidays and the couple of extra pounds put on, soup once a week seems like a pretty good New Year’s resolution.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.