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  • The Chopping Blog

Soup’s On

Laura S
Posted by Laura S on Dec 5, 2023
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It’s soup season here in Chicago. The leaves have fallen, the ground has frozen, and iced coffee sounds like a form of torture instead of a treat. Gone are the days of frozen negronis, girl dinners, and cold beers. It’s time to sink into the season and make a pot of soup.

Chicken SoupMaking soup is more than cooking dinner—it’s a celebration of these cold winter months and the bounty that carries us through. It’s standing over a pot and watching ingredients meld together, share their flavors, and become something new. It’s warming your body from the inside out as the weather outside tries to do just the opposite. It’s fighting back against the snow and the hail and the piercing wind. 

I make soups most nights for dinner in the cold months, the mirror image of my salad hobbies in the summer. To me, making soup is the peak of seasonality: it’s cold, nothing is growing, and every vegetable you took time to preserve over the summer needs some extra love to shine through the chill. Soup is perfect whether you’re feeding yourself or your book club or the friends you’ve promised to have for dinner since summer. It grows and shrinks with the crowd, warms up for days as leftovers, and bulks back up with a little bit of water added to it. 

Like salads, soups are recipe requests I get a lot. Unfortunately, much like my salads, my soups are rarely made with a precise set of ingredients and instructions—instead, I start with a template and dance around it depending on what’s in the crisper drawer and pantry shelves. Sometimes, the kind of soup I make depends on whether I have the remains of white or red wine to use to deglaze the pot. 

Chicken SoupHere’s my template, give or take. Aromatics lay a base—garlic, ginger, and turmeric helping to ward off winter colds while flavoring the pot for what’s to come. Vegetables add bulk and subtle tinges of flavor, and proteins bring a meatiness that layers fat and flavor. Finish the bowl with something indulgent, whether frozen baby spinach from the market this summer or chili oil or a dollop of full-fat Greek yogurt. Mix and match, play with combinations, don’t get bored. There are so many possibilities that there may not even be enough winter nights to try them all. 

I love fennel with sweet onions and crumbled Italian sausage. I love bok choy and tofu with singe-your-mouth spicy Thai chili jam. Beans are a must, in almost every pot of soup I make. Pumpkin has been a recent favorite, adding a layer of sweet, squashy goodness to my homemade vegetable broth. Lentils and rice dissolve into the broth when I reheat it the next day, turning the ordinary soup into an extraordinary lunch. Add dumplings and make your soup more substantial. Make pasta and turn your tomato soup into a sauce. Add a glug of olive oil on top, and relish the bites of peppery goodness. 

Tomato SoupI’m not saying that soup is the key to surviving a busy holiday season and a Chicago winter, but I guess I might be suggesting that it helps make it that much more bearable. Get your Dutch ovens ready and make the best of the chilly winter ahead.

One of my favorite soups is coming up in our new Winter in Toscana class, Ribollita! This Tuscan white bean and vegetable stew is thickened with day-old bread in the Italian spirit of not wasting any food. Don't miss this class coming up in January:

See our class calendar

Topics: soup, winter, soups

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