ok, my break is OVER!  actually, it was over yesterday.  12 dozen mufins, spinach quinoa pie, and scrumptious soup...all made.  i was cooking all day...well, not ALL day, but that is what it felt like.  i also had time to teach my super circuit class, workout, and go out with friends that night.   glad i got to sleep in a bit today! 

so....soup secrets....here we go...

1.) always start with some aromatics...aromatics are a MUST! 
onions, garlic, carrots, celery...all good!   alternative ideas include leeks, fennel, or ramps.
dice up and saute them in some olive oil in a large pot, then add other ingredients.

2.) use leftover meat.  cook meat in bulk, use part for another dish and save the rest for soup!  can be ground or shredded up.  i like to cook a pound of meat at a time and save half for soup.  this time i used venison.  ground beef or turkey, or shredded roast chicken would work nicely as well.  you can also use beans...which brings me to my next tip...

3.) use canned stuff...like beans and tomatoes.  black beans, white beans, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans...all work.  drain and rinse them, then add to sauted aromatics.  tomatoes are a wonderful background flavor and they add some liquid...do not drain them. 

4.) use good stock or broth.  i prefer vegetable stock because i try to stay away from using a lot of chicken products, but chicken or beef stock would work just as well.  after aromatics, beans, and/or tomatoes are cooked a bit, add 2-4 cups of stock depending on how much soup you want to make.  you can't mess up too much here, it isn't like baking where you need to be precise...go with how thick or thin you personally like it! 

5.) do not forget to season it....salt brings out the flavor of the other ingredients, so do not slack on it!  you can season as you go, so you do not overdue it.  add about 1/2 tsp salt at the beginning, taste about half way through, then add more if needed.  bay leaves also flavor a soup...one or two will do.  just don't forget to take them out when the soup is done!  oh yea, pepper too!

6.)  put in a parm rind!  this adds an incredible richness and some extra flavor.  cut off the end of a parmigiano reggiano wedge and add it to the pot.   it kind of melts into the broth adding an extra dimension!   plus, you use the entire wedge of cheese, don't waste the rind, and get your money's worth...real parm wedges are a little pricey, but totally worth it!  

7.)  get your greens in there!  i used ramps as one of my aromatics this time, which is, i guess, a wild green onion.  i cut the white/pink bottoms off and diced them up.  sauted them in olive oil like mentioned above, then i added the chopped tops.  what else would work?  tons of things....spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, just to name a few.  and of course, you can add any other veg you like!!!  doesn't have to be green!

8.)  also add a whole grain.  brown rice, farro, quinoa, wild rice, barley...and so on and so forth...
add the grain during the end of the cooking process.  for example, if you want the soup to cook for an hour and you want to add farro to it, like i did this time, add the farro during the last 30 minutes, because that is how long it usually takes farro to cook.  if adding quinoa, add it in the last 15 minutes. 

9.)  when done, serve up and top with freshly grated parm cheese and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

10.)  don't eat the parm rind!  but you can keep it in the leftovers to keep the flavor building!

11.)   ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY!    have a piece of crusty bread to soak up all the deliciously dense broth!!! 

what do you like to put in your soup?  any unique ideas out there???

if you know me well, you know i LOVE the color purple!   Look at these gorgeous flowers growing in my neighborhood! 

got some pink too!