Beneath The Shell: A day in the life of Chef Egg #2 Soups On

Beneath The Shell: A Day in the Life of Chef Egg #2 Soups On

This week in the world of Chef Egg has been very exciting so far. Last Monday I taught an evening class on "The New Soups of Fall". This was a class of 25 very excited students ready to learn about the new school of fall soups. I have done a class like this over and over and I thought it would be a good idea to switch things up.

Usually I do your basic autumn soups like butternut squash and pumpkin soups, sometimes I will get really crazy and throw an apple or cranberry in there.I decided to scratch all previous ideas and recipes, scour the new cooking magazines and show my students some new ways to think about fall soups. I picked three soups to showcase, a smoked turkey, black bean and pumpkin soup, an Eastern European lentil soup and a Native American toasted pecan soup. I thought these soups would make my class really interesting, and they did! The black bean and pumpkin soup was a mix of canned black beans, pumpkin and tomato.It was a pureed soup with full flavor, chunks of smoked turkey and had a splash of sherry vinegar and sherry wine to bring out the flavors. This was perfect served with warm bread and honey butter.

The next soup was in honor of my Eastern European heritage. The Red Lentil soup was my first attempt at a lentil soup pand was surprisingly easy and flavorful. It was made with onions, garlic, red lentils, veggie stock and was topped with a dollop of non fat Greek yogurt and fresh thyme. This soup turned out rib sticking thick and was very fulfilling. This was an immediate crowd pleaser.

Now, this last recipe was a gamble, the toasted pecan soup was new to me and my students. First I toasted off the pecans for a more intense flavor, and then I simmered them with chicken stock, onion, bay leaf, honey and a little chili powder. Once the pecans were soft I added some cream and pureed until smooth. It was flavored with a little salt and pepper and a healthy dose of maple syrup. Like I said, this recipe was a gamble that I think was successful. The pecan flavor and silky texture was very good. Though the flavor was a little too sweet for me, I think that the crowd appreciated the risk involved.

These soups were a hit with my class of mostly females and a few young couples. Some of my students had never made a pot of soup in there life and were ready to get cooking after the class.

Top tips for tasty soups!

1. Start Simple - I always tell people like this to start simple with a basic chicken soup. Throw a couple of chopped onions, celery, carrots, a bay leaf and a couple of chicken thighs ad legs into a pot, cover with water, let simmer for a couple of hours and see what goes down. When the meat falls off the bone, take the bones out and enjoy! It's that simple and very tasty.

2. Buy a good pot - Using a strong, heavy pot when you make soup will guarantee that your soup will cook evenly and not burn. I like to use a cast iron pot with an enamel coating. Pots like this can be found at Target, Walmart, online and at second hand stores for a good price. They cost around $50-$100 and will last a lifetime.

3. Sweet and sour power - Seasoning soups lightly with salt and pepper during the cooking process can boost flavor but can lead to super salty soups. A great way to add flavor to soups and stews is to add a little sweet and sour flavor. A dash of sugar and little vinegar at the end of cooking will really boost the flavor of your soup Autumn soups can be flavor boosted with apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, tomato based soups can use a drop of balsamic or sherry wine and a pinch of sugar. Lighter soups like a chicken or potato soup can be enriched with a little white wine vinegar and agave nectar.

4. Slow and low - Make sure your soups simmer on low heat and are stirred every so often. You do not want the soup to settle and burn on the bottom of the pot. Once the soup burns, it is very hard to remove that flavor.

5. Stock Up - When you make soups and stews, try to start off with homemade stocks. You can do this by covering celery, carrots, onions and chicken wings with cold water, simmer for at least 3 hours and then strain the solids. I like homemade stock because it has great flavor and doesn't have all of the salt that canned stocks and broths can have.

6. Lean and Clean – When you simmer soups or stocks, you will start to see foam and grease come to the surface. This surface scum is the impurities from the ingredients in your soup and is common when you are simmering fatty meats and vegetables for a long time. To remove the fat, all you have to do is take a spoon or ladle and carefully skim off the foam the gross stuff.

7. Green herbs - You can add that homemade flavor to your soups with dried herbs like bay leaf, thyme and parsley. I also like to add fresh herbs like celery greens, fresh parsley and dill to my chicken soup. This special ingredient makes chicken soup taste just like mom made it.

Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

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