Chicken Soup

A Primer for Making Soups

Dennis Weaver Dennis Weaver Oct 10, 2023

 

How to Make a Cream-Based Soup

If you can make the cream based soups outlined soups outlined below, you can make almost any soup, whether they enriched with cream or not. Nearly all soups area made with a thickener called a roux, pronounced ru.   

It's the first step and often the intimidating step for beginners. It's really simple. You can master it.  Then you are equipped to make most soups and gravies. 

There are some simple keys:

  • Use equal parts flour and butter or other fat. (Bacon fat is good) 
  • Only cook it for a minute or two.  For most soups, your roux should still be a light off-white color. For gravies, cook it until starts to brown. 

It is then thinned with stock, vegetable or chicken.  Cream is added to enrich the soup and give it a velvety texture. You don't have to add  cream.

The steps are outlined below.

Then you'll find a troubleshooting guide.

1. Cook the starch

Many soups use a diced onion for flavoring.  Sauté the onion in butter. Then add flour a little at a time to make a roux (pronounced ru). The ideal is equal parts butter and flour.  Cook while stirring until the butter and flour are combined into a thick paste.  The cooking should only last a minute or two and the flour should not be browned. (If you are making gravy, cook the roux until it is a light brown.)

2. Cook the soup base

While still cooking, pour a little of the stock into the flour and stir to dissolve.  Gradually add the rest of the stock, stirring with each addition. Continue cooking until the base simmers–which is bubbling, just below the boiling point. It will thicken as it cooks to the consistency of a light sauce.

3. Add the vegetables

Add the vegetables and cook them until they are tender.

4. Puree the soup


Soup Puree

Pour the soup into a blender in batches and puree until smooth.  Pass the pureed soup through a strainer to catch any lumps.  Press the lumps through the strainer with the back of a spoon.  Discard any solids.

Add any cubed meat or other solids called for in the recipe.

5. Finish the soup

Add the cream, thin with more water if necessary, and adjust the seasoning.

 

Cream Soup


A Basic Cream Soup Recipe

You can use this recipe to make a cream soup from most vegetables. Consider this recipe for asparagus, fresh pea soup, carrot soup, celery soup, and more.

Ingredients
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups vegetables of choice, diced
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • Salt and pepper as desired

  

Directions

  1. Sauté the onion in the butter.  Add the flour and cook while stirring until the butter and flour are combined into a thick paste.  The cooking should only last a minute or two and the flour should not be browned.
  2. While still cooking, pour a little of the stock into the flour and stir to dissolve.  Gradually add the rest of the stock, stirring with each addition. Continue cooking until the base simmers–which is bubbling, just below the boiling point. It will thicken as it cooks to the consistency of a light sauce.
  3. Add the vegetables and cook them until they are tender.  Cooking time will vary with different vegetables.
  4. Pour the soup into a blender in batches, two or three cups at a time, and puree until smooth.  Pass the pureed soup through a strainer to catch any lumps.  Press the lumps through the strainer with the back of a spoon.  Discard any solids.
  5. Add the cream, thin with more water if necessary, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as desired.

 

A Troubleshooting Guide

What if my soup is too thick?

Add more liquid—either water, cream, or broth to the soup.

What if the soup is too thin?

Put a tablespoon of flour into a small bowl and stir in two or three tablespoons of the soup until you have a smooth mixture. Stir this back into the soup and bring it to a simmer again. As the soup simmers, the starch granules in the flour will burst and thicken the soup.

If it is still not thick enough, do it again.

What if my soup is lumpy?

A whisk will often take the lumps out. If not, pour the soup through a strainer before adding the veggies.

Lumps may form if the flour is not thinned enough before beginning to cook or with an addition of flour when thickening the soup.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

chicken and wild rice soup

This is an outstanding soup, so good that you’ll want to serve it often to your family and fancy enough to serve to guests. It’s easy to make.

You can use either chicken or ham for this recipe. Both are good.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped or the equivalent in dry mushrooms
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked ham or chicken, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (if you use chicken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (salt will vary depending on broth used)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • water

Directions

  1. Wash the wild rice, place it in a saucepan, cover it with water and simmer it on very low heat until the rice is tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes.
  2. Sauté the chopped onion, mushrooms, and carrot in the butter. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the butter and onion mixture and stir to make a paste.
  3. Add a little of the broth and stir to further dissolve the cornstarch. Add the rest of the broth and heat to a boil to gelatinize the starch and thicken the soup.
  4. Add the wild rice and ham or chicken. Add the sugar, salt, and thyme if any.
  5. Add the cream. Bring back to simmer but do not boil. Test for seasoning and serve.

See also Merri Ann's Black Bean and Ham Recipe.

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