Soup is a simple and delicious meal that can be enjoyed at any time of year. Using seasonal veggies, meats, pasta and other ingredients make soup the ideal, flexible addition to any authentic farmhouse meal. In this article, we share smart tips to help you learn how to create the best seasonal soups using abundant, locally sourced ingredients. We also share a variation on the very popular recipe for Applewood Farmhouse Vegetable Soup. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- Why You Don’t Need A Recipe To Make Soup
- 5 Tips For Soup Creation
- How Do You Make Soup?
- What Should You Put In Soup?
- What Makes A Soup A Farmhouse Soup?
- Keep These Handy Ingredients In Stock!
- Applewood Farmhouse Soup Is Canned Goods Based!
- Simplicity Is The Main Ingredient In Farmhouse Cooking
Why You Don’t Need A Recipe To Make Soup
Making soup is a concept more than a recipe. Once you have mastered the basic steps, you can feel free to create with the ingredients you have at your fingertips.
Surprisingly, soup is a pretty much no-fail addition to any farmhouse meal. It makes a great appetizer or first course. Loaded with hearty vegetables and meats and accompanied by tasty, homemade farmhouse bread, soup is a meal in itself.
5 Tips For Soup Creation
Use these tips as your guide when creating your own, unique homemade soups in your authentic farmhouse kitchen.
1. What Type Of Fat You Want To Use
First decide on the type of fat you want to use. You’ll need fat to sauté your flavoring vegetables (e.g. onions, garlic, celery). Once these are sautéed, you’ll add any root vegetables you may be including.
For the purpose of sautéing, you’ll need a heat-safe oil such as lard, coconut oil, peanut oil or grape seed oil. These oils are stable when used at higher temperatures.
Olive oil, sesame oil and butter tend to burn at high temperatures, and olive oil develops carcinogenic qualities when used at high temperatures. If you’re going to use these oils, it’s best to add them as flavoring after all cooking is complete.
2. What Sort Of Base You Want To Have
Second, decide what sort of base you want to have. Will you have a clear vegetable, beef or chicken stock? Other options include a tomato purée or a milk or cream base.
Be clear on exactly which one of these you want to use, and allow this choice to inform your choices of veggies, meats, pasta and other ingredients.
3. What Sort Of Meat You Want To Use
Third, determine what sort of meat you want to use (if any). Options include:
- Ground beef is a good choice for a chili type soup or stew. You can also make it into meatballs if you’re making an Italian minestrone with a tomato purée base.
- If you happen to have a little steak on hand and you need to feed a lot of people, making soup out of it is a good idea. You can cut the steak into cubes, sauté it with your flavoring veggies and build your soup around it. This type of soup is good with a beef or vegetable stock base.
- Chicken or turkey (canned or fresh) is a good choice for a soup with a clear stock base, either vegetable or chicken broth. It can also be a good choice for a cream soup or white chili made with white beans.
- If you have fish or shellfish on hand, you can make a cream soup or chowder. Good additions to this type of soup include potatoes, carrots and corn.
4. Which Vegetables You Want To Use
Fourth, decide which vegetables you want to use.
- Almost any soup can be started with sautéed onion, garlic and celery. These veggies add flavor to any combination of meats, fish or vegetables.
- Red chili type recipes typically use tomatoes. Other vegetables that can be surprisingly good in this type of recipe include carrots, and if you want to stretch the recipe, add a can of drained and rinsed hominy.
- Standard broth based soup combinations include diced potatoes, sliced carrots, green beans or peas, corn and tomatoes. With this type of soup, you can also toss in some pasta or rice; however, it’s not a good idea to include potatoes if you’re going to use pasta or rice. One type of starch is plenty.
- Cream soups do very well with carrots, corn, sliced celery and/or potatoes. Other possibilities include root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips and the like.
- Greens (e.g. kale, spinach, beet greens, etc.) can be sautéed along with the onions, garlic and celery and make a good addition to broth-based soups and cream soups.
5. Season Your Soup
Fifth, season your soup. Basic spices are plain salt and pepper, but don’t overdo it on the salt. You can always add more at the table if you need it. If you’re using bouillon cubes as your broth, remember that they are made up of mostly salt so you won’t need more salt.
You can use plain black pepper, or toss in a pinch of chili pepper flakes. This decision adds a bit more bite to your soup.
Cumin is an excellent addition to any kind of soup. Just a bit adds full, rich flavor. Don’t overdo it as this can cause a bitter taste. Just the right amount of Cumin rounds out the flavor of any savory dish.
Other spices to have on hand and experiment with include:
- Chili Powder
- Bay Leaves
… and much more.
As you season your soup, you may wish to consult an online chart letting you know which spices go with which ingredients.
Start out cautiously. Spices tend to build flavor as they cook and also when refrigerated.
Remember you can always add more spices, but you can’t take them out! With trial and error, and the passage of time you will soon become an expert at spicing your soups exactly the way you want them.
There are lots of ways to add flavor!
Wine adds lots of flavor to soups without adding fat or calories. Even though the alcohol cooks off, some people don’t want to use wine in their cooking. If this is the case, or if you just don’t have any wine on hand, you can use apple cider vinegar or flavored vinegars.
Other ingredients that can be added to boost flavor include condiments such as Asian fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and more. Let your taste buds be your guide.
Also remember to save the pan juices from any meats that you roast, as well as any juices that are left in the skillet when you brown meats or veggies for other purposes. All of these are very flavorful and can easily be preserved by freezing for later use.
You can add flavor to soups after cooking by adding a bit of:
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Parmesan or Cheddar Cheese (my favorite)
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Flavored Vinegar
- Sour Cream
- Fresh Herbs
- Sesame Oil
- Olive Oil
… or any other flavorful addition you like. Have you ever tried to add a tiny bit of farmhouse ale? I haven’t but my husband does it all the time. 🙂
How Do You Make Soup?
Although many people believe that making soup is an all day process, the fact is you can make a good soup in a few minutes or in less than an hour. The amount of time depends on the ingredients.
If you are working with entirely fresh, raw ingredients, it will take longer than if you are working with pre-cooked ingredients.
Here are the basic steps to follow:
1. Sauté your flavoring vegetables, root vegetables and meat. Generally speaking, this process should take no longer than ten minutes. Sauté the flavoring veggies first, add the meat and sauté until it is browned on the outside, add the root veggies and simmer, covered until they are slightly tender.
Different techniques yield different results.
You can influence the outcome of your soup by changing the way you cook the flavoring veggies. Here are the three basic methods you can use that have a definite effect on the final flavor of your soup.
- Browning your flavoring veggies when you sauté them will impart very strong, rich flavors to your soup.
- Slowly softening your flavoring veggies by sautéing them very gently over low heat will impart a mellow flavor to your soup. You can also add some flavorful fat and fresh herbs into this process.
- Don’t sauté. You can make an oil free soup with very light, clean flavors by simply dropping all of your veggies, including flavoring veggies, into water or broth, bringing it to a boil and then simmering it until everything is tender. This is not a good method to use with soups that include meat, unless you are using canned meat or meat that has already been cooked.
2. Add your liquid ingredients and canned ingredients. Don’t stir at this point. Just dump in the liquids and cover the pot. Bring it to a low boil, give a gentle stir and lower the heat to simmer until your meats are cooked all the way through and your root veggies are tender.
3. If you’re making a cream soup from scratch, you’ll add your thickening agents (e.g. milk, cream, flour, cornstarch and the like) at this point. Your soup should basically be finished when you thicken it. This should happen in the last few minutes of cooking.
If you are using a canned cream soup to create a cream base for your soup, just dump the undiluted can of soup on top of all your ingredients immediately after step two.
Just let the creamed soup sit or float on top of the other ingredients to heat all the way through while the other ingredients cook. Gently stir it in at the last moment to incorporate it into your cream soup or chowder.
If you don’t want to add milk, cream, flour, cornstarch or canned soup to your soup to thicken it, you can simply remove part of the solids (e.g. cooked beans, potatoes, veggies) from the pot and purée them in your blender. (Don’t include meats.)
Return the puréed ingredients to the pot to thicken your soup. As with other thickeners, this should be done at the last moment.
The reason for adding (or stirring in) thickeners last is that they tend to scorch on the bottom of the pot if cooked for an extended period of time.
If you happen to have a hodgepodge of vegetables that you don’t feel really go together, or if you have a hydrator full of veggies that are still okay but not quite at their peak, you can make a puréed soup.
In this case, you would chop all your veggies into small cubes and sauté them together over low heat. Brown them slightly to increase flavor and fragrance and cover them with veggie, chicken or beef broth. If you don’t have broth, you can just use water.
Keep the heat low, and simmer the veggies for about an hour until they are very, very tender. Allow the mixture to cool and then purée it in your blender. Return the mixture to the pot and warm it up slowly. Taste and season as you desire.
What Should You Put In Soup?
What you include in your soup will really be a matter of taste, availability, experimentation and hit-and-miss. As you start out, keep it simple. Taste and sample and add the flavors that you prefer.
All sorts of vegetables can be used in soup, including every kind of squash, from zucchini to butternut and more. All root vegetables including sweet potatoes, turnips, potatoes, onions, leeks, etc. can be used.
Greens ranging from spinach to cabbage to kale and beyond make nice additions to a wide variety of soups. Cabbage is especially good with pork, and the lighter greens make good additions to broth-based veggie soups.
When choosing the vegetables you want to include, your palate should be your main guide. If you like the flavor of a veggie, think about what will taste good with it and experiment with those combinations.
If you dislike the flavor of a particular vegetable, just don’t include it in your soup. You will not be able to cover up or hide the flavor; although, you may be able to mitigate it a little bit with some other ingredients. Even so, the bottom line is, you should not include things you don’t like in the food you cook.
Here is a good basic vegetable soup you can make which includes some of the more unusual veggies.
- One chopped onion
- One teaspoonful of chopped garlic
- Half a cup of sliced celery with leaves
- One small to medium head of cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli
- A cup of chopped or cubed root vegetables, such as celery root, rutabaga, turnips, etc.
- Four sliced carrots
- Two cups of chopped leafy vegetables, such as chard, kale, turnip greens, mizuna, dandelion, escarole, endive, collards, etc.)
- A half cup of part dry white wine or apple cider vinegar
- Enough water to just barely cover all veggies
You can prepare this by sautéing the flavoring veggies in a little oil first, or you can do it as an entirely boiled soup. Because of all the dense, raw root veggies, you’ll need to boil the soup for five minutes and then simmer it gently for at least half an hour or until the root veggies are cooked to your liking.
Here’s another take on preparing a basic veggie soup.
What Makes A Soup A Farmhouse Soup?
In the tradition of farmhouse cooking, any farmhouse dish is one that is simple and easy to make, incorporates readily available, seasonal ingredients and is hearty, satisfying and uncomplicated.
Remember that farmhouse foods are those that are intended to feed your friends and family in a casual and welcoming way.
You don’t need exotic ingredients to make an authentic farmhouse soup, and remember that on a traditional farm, home canned goods and dry make up a great deal of the winter menu. In this way, dry goods and canned goods are a seasonal food!
Keep These Handy Ingredients In Stock!
To be sure of always being able to make a good farmhouse soup even if you don’t have fresh veggies and meats, keep a well rounded collection of frozen, dried and canned goods on hand. Fresh veggies are always best, but if being without one ingredient (or a few) will prevent you from making the soup you want, it’s a good idea to keep a few things around that can fill in the blanks.
- Dried Beans (Pinto, Red, Great Northern, Lentils, Etc.)
- Canned Cream Soups (Chicken, Mushroom and Celery)
- Canned Green Beans, Carrots, Corn and Potatoes
- Canned Beans (Pinto, Red, Great Northern, Etc.)
- Beef, Chicken and Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
- Dehydrated Chopped Onions
- Dehydrated Minced Garlic
- Canned Meats and Fish
- Dehydrated Vegetables
- Frozen Vegetables
- Canned Tomatoes
- Canned Hominy
- Assorted Pastas
Of course, it’s always best to use fresh veggies in your soups, but just keeping these dried, frozen and canned staples on hand costs you almost nothing and enhances your possibilities in creating full, hearty soups.
Note that most canned vegetables (potatoes, corn, carrots, beans, hominy) should be rinsed before using. Tomatoes can typically be used with the juice.
Applewood Farmhouse Soup Is Canned Goods Based!
One farmhouse soup recipe that has gotten a lot of attention lately is Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant’s vegetable soup recipe. This is a wildly popular dish that is served at the frequently visited restaurant in Tennessee.
This is a good example of a farmhouse soup recipe because it incorporates simple, easy to find ingredients that combine to create a final product that is greater and more satisfying than the sum of its parts.
Here is our take on that popular recipe.
This is basically a “dump mix” style soup. It involves simply dumping a collection of previously prepared ingredients into a pot, bringing it to a boil and then simmering until all ingredients are completely heated through and cooked.
Here’s what you need and here’s what you do:
In a large, heavy cooking pot combine:
- Four or five medium-sized diced potatoes (scrubbed, not peeled)
- 8 ounces of canned peas or green beans, drained and rinsed
- 8 ounces of canned whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
- Half a teaspoon of seasoning salt
- Half a stick of butter or margarine
- 16 ounces of crushed tomatoes
- Four stalks of chopped celery
- 8 ounces of tomato sauce
- A large chopped carrot
- 5 cups of water
Set the pot on high heat and bring the contents to a full rolling boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour, or until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
If you wish, you can substitute half a cup of quick-cook rice or a cup of pasta for the potatoes. The original recipe indicates that you can use both, but this is an excessive amount of starch.
If you’re going to use rice or pasta, rinse it before adding. Add it into the mix about halfway through the simmering process. Alternately, you can cook pasta about halfway, rinse it and then add it to the mix about 5 minutes before the soup is completely cooked.
If you’re going to use rice that takes longer than fifteen minutes to cook (e.g. brown rice) cook it in advance, and add it fully cooked during the last five minutes of simmering.
Simplicity Is The Main Ingredient In Farmhouse Cooking
It’s easy to see that there are lots of ways to make good vegetable soup. Of course, there are millions of excellent recipes you can follow, but you needn’t be limited by that.
Follow the tips presented here and use your imagination and creativity and what you have on hand to make genuine, authentic farmhouse soup to share and enjoy with your friends and family.