We’ve certainly had some remarkable weather ups and downs, but we know the New Year will bring cold temperatures, snow and a desire hunker down. How better to enjoy winter than with a steaming hot bowl of soup and some homemade bread?
According to culinary history, the word soup dates to post-classical Latin “suppare” or soak. The term later appeared in the French language as “soupe”. In the Middle Ages cooks spoke of soup as any liquid that was poured over bread. The word supper is also derived from this term. In general terms, “soup” applies to any liquid, savoury dish. All cultures have soup as a culinary foundation.
If you’re going to the effort of making a big batch of soup, why not make extra for later use? To preserve soup, there are basically three methods: Freezing, dehydrating or pressure canning.
The easiest, least time-consuming method is to freeze. Freeze soups in a wide-mouth Mason jar or food grade plastic freezer container. Leave an inch headspace to allow for expansion. To prevent ice crystal formation, crinkle up some parchment paper and place it on top of the soup. Always cool the soup, then refrigerate before freezing. Label and date the frozen soup. Thaw in the fridge and heat to 165 degrees before serving.
Most of us have bought a “Cup of Soup” or Lipton package of soup. These are examples of dehydrated soups, and this can be done at home. One approach is to dehydrate vegetables, cooked rice or potatoes, and seasoning. Rehydrate in boiling water. Broth and soups can also be dehydrated after reducing to a condensed or pureed form and then laying out on a Silpat sheet or parchment lined rack in the dehydrator as you would do when making fruit leathers. The dehydrated broth can be ground into a powder or simple broken up into pieces and stored in a cool, dark, dry place. The dehydrated soup puree can be stored as you would a fruit leather.
Because soup is made with low acid foods like vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, pressure canning is necessary for safe long-term storage. Pressure canning raises the internal temperature to 240 degrees which is required to kill heat resistant bacteria such as those that cause botulism. Always follow reputable recipes and proper methods (see Bernardin, National Center for Home Food Preservation or refer to “So Easy to Preserve”). There are many soups suitable for pressure canning making instant meals easily accessible from the pantry in a matter of minutes. Do not pressure can soups made with pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk, or any thickening agents as these agents interfere with heat penetration and therefore safety. You can add them just before serving if you wish.
Winter is the time for hot soup and crusty bread. Home-made stocks and broths, hearty chowders, simple garden vegetables or instant soup mixes ready for winter camping can all be available for quick suppers, lunches, or picnics. Call the family: “Soups on”.