Confession: I was once obsessed with canned soups.
Southwestern Chicken, Beef and Barley, Chicken and Stars, Creamy Potato—as a young adult I stocked my pantry like it was Y2K.
However, there was a turning point in my food story when I realized “I can make soup without a can.”
Quickly following this realization, I set one of my first cooking goals: learn how to make good soup.
My decision was supported by my then fiancé. He gifted me a soup cookbook, not only to be supportive, but also probably in hopes that he too could benefit from my drive.
Once married I began making soup weekly. A big batch was created on “Soup Sunday,” as I lovingly called it, and we ate it for lunches and dinners.
Slowly, I begin to deviate from recipes. At first it was minor tweaks: swapping out herbs, adjusting seasonings, omitting or adding ingredients. This worked for a while, but I wanted to cook without having to rely on a recipe.
Then, a realization. It was time to abandon the cookbook and make my own soup recipe. My first endeavor was chicken tortilla soup. At that moment I felt it was perfect, but later realized there was too much “stuff” going on in my bowl.
I went back to following recipes, but dived a little deeper and went for favorite chefs and trusted food resources— Food52, Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Food and Wine Magazine.
After a few years of making soups (guided by recipes) with layers of flavor and good balance, I felt it was time, once again, to pursue my goal.
For the past few years, I have been at ease with soups, but that level of comfort has come through many trials and errors.
These recipes represent some of the lessons learned through my many soup adventures:
Shrimp and Leek Bread Soup (click here for recipe)
- some of the best soups are a mix of half-used ingredients from the pantry
- lemon zest is an easy way to brighten up a dish
Red Wine Beef Stew (click here for recipe)
- appreciate classic soups, they are combinations that just work
- browning meat adds layers of flavors that cannot be achieved any other way
Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup (click here for recipe)
- meat is not a necessity for hearty soup
- be creative and adventurous with toppings
Click here for more soup recipes and inspiration. Happy cooking!
This story was published in The Dallas Morning News in January 2016. Click here for the full story.