After being too hot for too long, we suddenly entered a phase of runny noses, cold feet and refusing to turn on the heating for fear of bankruptcy. To warm the body and heart, you can prepare soup in liters. But you will still succeed.
After all, preparing high-quality soup is not as easy as advertised. Cutting up vegetables and throwing them in water, to use the principle of one of the best Tumblrs in the world, is not necessarily enough. That’s why HuffPost asked chefs Einau Geffen, Lisa Brooks, and Ben Gudnik to highlight five pitfalls for those who want to make the best soup.
Mistake #1: Too much (or not enough) salt
Seasoning is fundamental. It’s not just about quantity, but also about time. Because during cooking, when the liquid evaporates, the pre-filled salt remains in the pan. The ideal way is to gradually add salt as you cook.
“You have to add a little salt at the beginning, add more as you go, and then add a little salt at the end when the soup is done”, summarizes Einau Geffen. And if you add too much, Lisa Brooks recommends adding small pieces of potato to the soup, which will try to absorb the excess. Adding water or cream is of course also possible.
Mistake #2: Adding all the ingredients at once
No, we don’t throw everything into boiling water before going to drink it. For example, the onion first needs to be at least fried, explains Ben Gudnik, whose word it is better to take, since he is the chef of a restaurant that serves only soups. They can be made just translucent or browned to “to make the flavors smoother and more complex”.
It is also necessary to introduce meat (but remember that vegetable soup does without animal proteins) and do not forget about the aromatic base (onion, garlic, carrot, celery, ginger). The addition of thyme, rosemary, or bay leaf should be done at the beginning to ensure maximum flavor extraction; on the other hand, basil, cilantro, or parsley should wait until the end. “I sometimes add parsley at the beginning of cooking to enhance the flavor, and at the end there is nothing left”warns Einau Geffen.
Mistake #3: Overeagerness
A good soup is a soup that is cooked long enough. It is necessary to let all the ingredients infuse and establish a balance. That the vegetables are sufficiently cooked is not the only indicator to consider… Unfortunately, there is no golden rule for the perfect cooking time; it all depends on the type of ingredients used.
Forty-five minutes may be enough for a vegetable soup; on the other hand, if it also contains peas or beans, it takes an hour or even an hour and a half. And if you really need to add meat, keep in mind that beef soups sometimes require up to two hours of cooking time to soften the meat enough.
Mistake #4: Leave the lid on permanently
There is no absolute rule on this matter. But Einav Geffen advises covering vegetable soups with a lid to limit evaporation, which helps avoid getting too thick a soup. For broths, however, she suggests removing the lid and regularly checking the amount of liquid that evaporates during cooking.
Ben Gudnick confirms this rule of thumb by clarifying that removing the lid and thus allowing the water to evaporate creates the effect of concentrating the flavors in the soup.
Mistake #5: Cook all ingredients for the same amount of time
Again, the trap of convenience lurks: no, to make a good soup, you don’t have to just throw everything in water and serve when you think it’s ready. Harder vegetables must first be put in boiling water, but softer ones or straight from the freezer can wait.
In a dish such as seafood soup (shellfish or others), this element should be added at the very end of cooking so as not to overcook. And if you want to add noodles to the soup, you should not add them at the same time as vegetables: here they are added only a few minutes before the end of cooking, so that it retains a certain consistency.