Monday, September 14, 2009


The word soup comes from French soupe ("soup", "broth"), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa ("bread soaked in broth") from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word "sop", a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning "[something] restoring") was first used in France in the 16th century, to describe a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant to describe the shops.

No matter what you call it, soup is a healthy and frugal alternative to Modern Western Foods. There are a million recipes for soup available on the internet but following a recipe defeats the frugality of traditional sop--which is made from items on hand. My usual method of making soup goes like this--

1) Notice a few veggies in the crisper that are past their prime-3 carrots, 1/2 onion, celery root end, 1/2 eggplant - Time to Make Soup!

2) Scavenge through the fridge and freezer for complementary meat-1 frozen chicken thigh, 3 strips of bacon, 1/2 package of ham lunch meat, 1/2 pound of frozen round steak. The ham lunch meat is the closest to its "Use By" date.

3) What starch goes good with ham? Split peas or lentils? Find 1/2 bag of Lima Beans in the pantry--Score!

4) Put Lima beans to cook in a pot. 2 cups of beans and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low. 2 hours later, saute onion and chopped celery root with chopped bacon, chop carrots into fancy bias cuts about the same size as the Lima beans. There isn't a lot of fat in my ingredients so I don't drain the bacon grease--add sauteed veggies and bacon and carrots to pot. One hour before dinner, I will chop the eggplant into cubes and the ham into 1/4 inch wide strips and add them to the pot.

5) Do a quick look on the internet for spice and herb ideas--What would I add to ham? Salt, pepper and mustard, I add 2 tablespoon of mustard and a teaspoon of pepper to the soup for a little zing. When I do this last step, I taste the soup and look at it--Too thin? Add a handful of pasta or leave off the lid so that the steam escapes and thickens the soup. Not "rich" enough?, add a teaspoon of chicken or ham bouillon or a tablespoon of Kitchen Bouquet. Salt is only added at the table--too much salt is the worst mistake you can make in soup.

6) Serve soup for dinner with fresh bread and hear, "This is the best soup ever. Is there enough to take for lunch tomorrow?" Yes, there is! Serves 6 for about 50 cents each!

Basic Ingredients
All soups follow a pattern that is easily adapted to the Frugal Kitchen: Water + protein + fat + vegetables + starch. Only the differences in quantities account for the different varieties of soup. So we have a basic recipe that looks like this--

Chicken stock(water + protein + fat), vegetables, pasta = Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken stock(water + protein + fat), vegetables, biscuit dough = Chicken & Dumplings

Liquid starters
Chicken, Beef, Ham, or Vegetable Stock
Bouillon cubes & water

Protein Choices
Smoked Meats
Vegetarian Meat Substitutes
Bacon or Bacon Fat
Sour Cream or Heavy Cream

Starchy Additions
Pasta or noodles
Biscuit Dough
Grains(Barley, oats,
Legumes(Split peas, Orange, Yellow, or Tan Legumes)

Vegetables Mild or Strong
Mild veggies can be mixed and matched depending on what you have on hand: carrots, celery, onions, eggplant, squash, beets, okra, nettles, spinach, red or yellow bell peppers, etc.

Strong veggies are better for soups built around their flavor: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Spanish onions, green onions, garlic, lemon grass, green bell peppers(very strong when cooked for long periods of time), etc.

Ideas for soup on Wiki.

Tons of Retro Soup Recipes!

No comments: