Soup can be as simple or elegant as you like

February 13, 1991|By Louise Tennent Smith | Louise Tennent Smith,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Making soup is fun, an exercise in kitchen creativity whic cannot go wrong -- you can ALWAYS fix a soup.

Homemade stock is good, and easy to make, though time consuming. But don't give up on soup-making if you haven't time to make your own. There are good canned, dried and frozen bases that will allow you to whip up a good soup in no time at all.

* Seasoning: The stock itself gives the base seasoning to a soup, as do herbs and spices added during cooking. The addition of wine frequently enhances flavor. Add about one-quarter cup to one quart of soup just before serving, and do not boil after adding. Use sherry for light soups with a chicken base, red wine with beef based soups, white wine with fish soups. A cup of beer for every three cups soup is good with bean or other hearty vegetable soups.

* Thickening: Cooked cereals such as rice, noodles and dumplings give body to a clear soup; added raw, they will thicken a soup. Other thickenings include egg yolks, pureed vegetables and roux of flour and butter.

* Color: Soups using a good quantity of meat, onion skins, tomato skins or browned onions usually have excellent color. Other color additives include browning sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, wine, tomato sauce and soy sauce. The latter group should be used with care in delicate soups, as their flavor might be overwhelming.

Vegetable Broth

3 cups or more vegetables, chopped

3 tablespoons butter

4 cups boiling water and tomatoes OR tomato juice

1 bouillon cube

Saute vegetables gently and slowly for five minutes in butter -- do not let them brown. Add liquid and simmer the soup, partially covered, for about one hour. Season and add bouillon cube.

Creamy Carrot Soup

2 cups (5-6) peeled, sliced carrots

1 1/2 cups strong chicken broth

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons raw white rice

Pinch grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated lemon peel for garnish

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Place all the soup ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables and rice are tender, about 20 minutes.

Cool slightly and puree the mixture until smooth. Just before serving, adjust the seasonings, reheat the soup, garnish as desired and serve hot.

Serves four with 92 calories per serving.

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