Soulful Simmer: A Guide to Delectable Soups & Stews from Around the World
There’s no doubt that soup is the quintessential cool weather meal, but with such a variety of different soups from a light consommé to a rich and creamy chowder, this meal can be enjoyed all year round. We show you all you need to know about the different types of soups, and how to make them with some easy recipes.
A Guide To Different Soups
Get to know the different soups from consommé to pho, and learn how to make them using some of our favourite soup recipes.
Clear soups are broken into two categories – broths and consommés. Both begin by creating a flavourful stock and then different processes create the two different soup types.
A classic French dish, traditionally made by clarifying fish broth or bouillon; the goal is a glass-like clear finished product. The starting place is a good broth or bouillon which will tend to have a murky look, although it doesn’t affect the flavour of the soup. To clarify the liquid to create a clear consommé, protein is whisked into a simmering broth, usually egg whites and even eggshells.
The egg starts to coagulate and rise to the surface, bringing with it any debris forming what is called a raft. Once the raft is removed the end result should be a clear consommé, which is a rich and slightly weighty ‘broth’ that has a clear, glass-like look.
‘Did you know: A spigot is the name given to a pot which has a special plug at the bottom that drains your broth without disturbing the raft making the consommé cloudy.’
Broth & Bouillon
Prepared similarly to a stock by simmering ingredients such as meat and bones, mirepoix and aromatic herbs over a long period. In stocks, generally only the bones are used, whereas the whole cut of meat is used in a broth and bouillon. The aromatics and meat/bones are then strained, leaving behind a deep, flavourful broth liquid.
THICK SOUPS – PURÉED SOUPS
Puréed soups are a win; they’re easy to make, filling and a great way to use up extra veggies.
There are two ways of going about making a puréed soup, and this can depend on the veggies you are using. Firstly, you can boil or steam your veggies with your aromatics before adding a little stock and then puréeing. This works well if you are wanting to reduce fat content or are working with hardier veggies or legumes such as celeriac or lentils, or veggies that are not suited to roasting, such as peas.
The second method of cooking your veg, is to caramelise with your aromatics in a saucepan or to roast in the oven. With these methods you will need to add a little fat, such as oil or butter and both the addition of the fat and the roasting/sautéing will create great depth of flavour. This works especially well with root veggies, such as pumpkin and butternut. Once the veggies are cooked, you can then add stock and blitz to purée.
CREAM-BASED THICK SOUP
There are a number of ways of making cream-based soups. One, is by making a sauce such as a velouté as the base of your soup. This is done by thickening stock with a roux mixture. You can add veggies to this for some chunkiness. Other recipes purée veggies (as above), then strain to get a smooth, velvety-like texture and add cream to add body and flavour.
While it may seem counterintuitive, chilled soups are quite popular in warmer areas, parts of Europe; the Med and South America have their own versions.
Chilled soups have two varieties: ones that are cooked first and then served cold, or vegetables and/or fruit that are served raw. Soups such as Spanish gazpacho or French vichyssoise are examples of a delicious cold soup.
SPECIAL SOUPS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Bisque – France
A bisque is a traditional creamy French soup that is almost always crustacean-based. It used to be a way to use seafood that was not good enough for market – the dish involved extracting all of the flavour from the seafood and then thickening by using the ground shellfish, or in some cases rice.
Bouillabaisse – France
Impossible to spell and pronounce (roughly… boo-ya-base), and will take some patience to make but really worth it. This traditional rustic fisherman’s dish originated in Marseille and was another soup that made use of seafood that wasn’t good enough for market.
The dish involves a broth base made with onions, tomatoes and aromatics to which different kinds of seafood are added. It can include many different kinds of seafood including fish, shellfish, urchins and octopus; sometimes the dish is served as the broth and seafood separately.
Traditionally, it is also served with country bread with rouille, a mayonnaise-based sauce with garlic, saffron, chillies and peppers.
Borscht – Eastern Europe
You wouldn’t be able to visit any Eastern European country and not experience borscht. This very traditional soup is a classic to many countries such as Russia, Poland and Ukraine, each having their own version.
The version which uses beets is probably the most popularised due to its bright colour and earthy flavour. Varieties include hot and cold versions; meat and vegetarian versions and are most often served with a dollop of some kind of sour cream. Try this Borscht recipe
Chowder – New England
Chowder’s history is a little confused, with a couple of nationalities claiming ownership. They say that French and English immigrants brought the dish to North America, where it was popularised as the chowder dish we know today.
As far as history goes, it was originally a shipboard soup that was thickened with broken salted crackers called hardtack, which were a ship staple for a long voyage.
Chowders are almost always seafood based, are creamy and often contain chunks of potato, bacon and seafood such as clams. Chowder is pretty much the dish of New England in the States and is really a bowl of comfort that starts with a roux base. Try these recipes for Bacon and Corn Chowder or Vegan Corn Chowder.
Caldo Verde – Portugal
Caldo Verde is a Portuguese mother’s way of curing any ailment and fixing any heartbreak. This potato-based soup includes thinly sliced kale and pieces of chorizo sausage. It’s hearty, country-style cuisine and it’ll pretty much solve any problem, especially if that problem is hunger.
Dashi – Asian
Dashi falls into the broth section of this list. It is a base for many Asian dishes adding depth of flavour and pungent umaminess. It is made from a base of some kind of (often dried) seafood such as kombu (dried kelp), katsuobushi (dried and smoked bonito/skipjack shaved and flaked tuna), iriko or niboshi (anchovies/sardine). It’s the cornerstone to many Asian dishes, including Miso soup, and can be had on its own; it’s also recognised for its healing properties.
French Onion Soup – France
The list of classic French-style soups is endless, but this one is a definite favourite. Made with an onion-y broth base and topped with slices of baguette and melted cheese or gratinated croutons. It’s a rustic country must-have. Try this classic recipe for French Onion Soup and a LCHF French Onion Soup.
Gazpacho – Spain
If you live in a warm Mediterranean climate, then a cold soup is the way forward. Gazpacho is traditionally a raw soup served cold. Ingredients such as tomatoes and celery and blended, strained and then seasoned with olive oil and aromatics. The result is a fresh dish with plenty of flavour and all the nutrients intact. Try this recipe for Tomato Gazpacho or Avo & Asparagus Gazpacho.
Goulash – Hungary
It comes from Hungary, and it’s definitely meant to feed the hungry. This traditional style soup/stew was originally made by shepherds and consists of meat in a fragrant tomato-based sauce.
Later versions contain paprika as a key ingredient as well. Tough cuts like shank and shin work well it this soup, as it is best prepared with lots of time to allow for all that to break down and create a thick, tasty sauce. Try this recipe for Hungarian Goulash with Dumplings
Minestrone – Italy
The Italian version of a hug-in-a-bowl. This vegetarian soup is packed full of veggies and beans, and is what your Nonna would make for you on a cold winter’s day. It has a tomato-style base and will often have a bit of pasta in it as well.
Mulligatawny Soup – Anglo-Indian
This tongue-twister has its roots in Indian flavour and was popularised by the British. The name roughly translates to ‘pepper water’ so you know it’s going to be packed with flavour. The base is a mix of flavourful aromatics and has the addition of chicken in some cases. This Anglo-Indian bowl is sure to warm up a grim winter’s day.
Pho – Vietnam
Another tongue twister that Westerners seem to struggle to get right – some say it should be pronounced ‘Fa’ and others that way you see it as ‘Pho’ – how ever you choose to say it, know that it’s tasty.
This traditional Vietnamese broth is filled with rice noodles, veg and usually chicken or beef. It’s packed with aromatics and is a belly full of yum.
Ramen – Japan
Real Ramen fell into the shadow of popularised packet Ramen noodles for many years, with the latter being the only version that was understood by Western culture. But the East was holding onto one of their best kept secrets – how delicious a bowl of real, authentic Ramen soup actually is. Japanese Ramen is a complex dish that takes a while to get right.
It’s all about a flavourful broth and this is key to the success of the dish. Along with noodles, added ingredients can include items like sliced mushrooms, spring onions, corn, crispy duck, beef or chicken and a soft boiled egg. There are many different varieties of Ramen soup around, we recommend trying them all to find your favourite. Learn more about Ramen right here.
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