The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Soups

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Soups

by Jenna Holst


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780028628615
Publisher: Alpha Books
Publication date: 02/03/1999
Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
Pages: 1
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.11(h) x 0.68(d)

First Chapter

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Soups - CH3 - Off the Shelf

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Soups

- 3 -

Off the Shelf

In This Chapter

  • The low-down on beans

  • Learning about rice

  • What pasta is best in soup

  • Olive and other oils

All the ingredients highlighted in this chapter have a long shelf life, whichmeans you can buy them in bulk and not worry about them going bad quickly. Most shouldbe kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place such as a kitchen cupboard orcabinet.

Canned goods, such as tomatoes, fish, and broth, are the most commonly storeditems. All cans should be undented because dents sometimes conceal small holes, invisibleto the eye, through which airborne bacteria can enter and cause the food inside tospoil. Sometimes labels have use-by dates, so check for them.

There's an abundance of other shelf-stable items that aren't processed or cannedthat are perfect for soup. These include dried food such as pastas, rice, and legumes,as well as vegetable oils.

Legumes: Beans, Lentils, and Split Peas

Always marvelous in soup, inexpensive, and nutritious, legumes can be purchasedin one- or two-pound bags at the supermarket, or loose in many health food or ethnicgrocery stores. If you buy them in bags, store them that way, but if you buy in bulk,keep them in sealed glass or plastic containers. Either way, they will last in yourcabinet for a year or more. The varieties of beans are numerous, but here's a compendiumof those that are called for in the recipes.

Black Beans

Widely used in Latin American, Mexican, and Caribbean cuisine, black beans arekidney shaped and actually have a white flesh. Their rich and earthy taste can standup to hot chilies, spices, and garlic.


Also known as garbanzo beans, these round, irregularly shaped beans have a mild,nutty flavor. They are used in soups, salads, and stews of Mediterranean countriessuch as Spain, Italy, Morocco, and the Middle East as well as in recipes from LatinAmerica and India.

Pinto Beans

These kidney-shaped beans are beige or pink and dotted with dark brown flecks.They are used in southwestern, Tex-Mex, and Mexican foods.

Red Kidney Beans, Small Red Beans, and Pink Beans

These meaty beans can be used interchangeably and may be substituted when pintobeans are called for. Although not traditional, they can replace white beans in minestrone.

White Beans

There are many kinds of white beans, all having a mild flavor and somewhat creamytexture. Use Great Northern, Navy, or white kidney (also called by their Italianname, cannellini) beans interchangeably.

Brown Lentils

These are the common lentils sold everywhere and are suitable for the soup recipes.The smaller French green lentils and red lentils are not a substitute.

Split Peas

Green peas have an intense pea taste but their yellow cousins are somewhat milder.Both are most often found split, although you can find them whole in some markets.

Souper Bowl Fact

Here are some legume equivalents:

1 pound dried beans = 2 to 21/2 cups uncooked, and becomes 61/2 to 71/2 cups when cooked.

1 pound dried lentils or split peas = 21/2 cups uncooked, and becomes 7 to 71/2 cups when cooked.

One 15- to 16-ounce can, rinsed and drained = 11/2 to 13/4 cups cooked beans.

One 20-ounce can, rinsed and drained = 2 cups.

Sorting Beans

Pebbles are often hidden amongst the beans. To prevent a cracked tooth, you mustsort through them.

Put the beans in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Pick through toremove any pebbles or debris as well as any discolored and shriveled beans.


To soak or not to soak, that is the question. No matter what the color--red, green,brown, or yellow--lentils and dried split peas don't need any presoaking and canbe used after they have been washed and picked over. Whole dried peas do benefitfrom soaking, however.

I nearly always soak dried beans. Although some respected, modern chefs don'tsee the advantage, soaking does remove a percentage, albeit small, of the gas-producingsugars that can cause digestive problems and bloating for some people.

There are two methods of soaking:

  • Overnight Method: Put the beans in a large pot and cover with approximately 3 inches of water above the beans and soak overnight. Drain and cover again with fresh water to cook.

  • Quick Method: Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with 2 to 3 inches of water. Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans stand in the water for 1 hour before using. Drain and cover again with fresh water to cook.

Souper Saver

When cooking fresh legumes, adding salt or acidic foods such as tomatoes, vinegar, or wine can make them toughen and take much longer to cook. Add these ingredients to the pot after the beans are already tender. Simmer a while longer until their flavors are fully incorporated.

Canned Beans

Although their texture is somewhat softer than that of freshly cooked dried beans,they are time-saving, convenient, and will still make a good soup. Before using,put the canned beans in a sieve or colander and pour off any of the canning liquid.Rinse them well under cold, running water and drain.


Rice is one of the world's most popular dietary staples and is a welcome additionto soup. It too has a long shelf life when stored correctly. If you plan to use riceoften you can keep it in its box; otherwise, once opened, transfer it to a container.

Souper Clue

The Raw and the Cooked: Although this might seem obvious, I've been asked this que stion several times. When uncooked or raw rice is called for, the recipe will simply call for X amount of "rice," but when cooked rice is required, it will specify X amount of "cooked rice."

Rice is porous and absorbs other flavors that it comes in contact with. Make sureyou don't store it near your spices or it may end up tasting like curry powder orcinnamon. But this trait has its benefits too, and can transform ordinary rice intoa luxury item. Flavor your rice by storing it with a dried wild mushroom (or two)such as a morel or porcini or, if you're extravagant, a truffle--ooh la la. Thisis particularly good for Arborio rice that's used for risotto. Note that the truffleor mushroom can still be utilized in another dish. Store flavored rice in a sealedglass or plastic container and label it.

There are several types of rice suitable for soup, and here's a handy guide.

White Rice

White rice is polished, which means the germ and bran have been removed. Thereare basically two types of white rice: long-grain, whose grains remain separate aftercooking, and short-grain, whose grains stick together after cooking. Use all-purpose,long-grain white rice for most soups where white rice is specified. For a nuttiertaste, try basmati or Texmati. Jasmine, the sweet-tasting Thai rice, and Arborio,the popular short-grain white rice used in risotto, are not appropriate for the souprecipes. White rice takes between 15 and 20 minutes to cook.

Brown Rice

This is unmilled or unpolished rice and is slightly more nutritious than whiterice because the germ and bran are intact. It has a richer taste and firmer textureand t akes about 45 to 55 minutes to cook. Quick brown rice, which takes about 15to 20 minutes to cook, is also available in many markets, and this type can be substitutedfor white rice in soup because their cooking times are similar. In recipes wherecooked rice is called for you may substitute cooked brown rice.

Wild Rice

Not really rice, but the seed of a wild marsh grass, wild rice is often combinedwith white or brown rice. It has a unique, nutty taste that is wonderful with mushrooms.The cooking time is between 50 to 60 minutes. Do not substitute wild rice for otherrice in soup.


Cultivated and eaten since the Stone Age, this delicious and filling grain isrich in both protein and B vitamins. Although not specifically a rice, barley fulfillsa similar function in soup. Pearled or pearl barley is the type most readily available.Although its bran has been removed for easier and shorter cooking, it still has goodnutritional value. Stored in an airtight container, pearled barley should last for9 to 12 months and sometimes longer.


In soup, you'll probably use dried pastas or noodles instead of freshly made.Stored in a cool, dry place, dried pasta will keep almost indefinitely. Noodles orpasta rarely need to be prepared separately, but are added directly to the soup andcooked. Small shapes or miniature pasta, as opposed to long noodles, are most oftencalled for in soup. Use small shells, small elbow macaroni, ditalini (smalltubes), thin egg noodles, wide egg noodles, or tortellini as required.

Naturally, there's an exception to this rule--Asian noodle soups require long,ramen-style noodles. If the noodles a re too long for you to eat comfortably, youcan break them before cooking. Other Asian noodles sometimes used in soup are ricenoodles or rice sticks. These have a short cooking time, and you must adjust thetiming in recipes accordingly if you substitute these noodles in any of the Asiansoup recipes in this book. Mung bean noodles, also called bean threads, must be soakedin a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes and drained. They then can be added directlyto fully cooked soup right before serving.

Olive and Other Vegetable Oils

Olive oil is considered one of the most healthful of all oils. A staple of Mediterraneancuisine, it is a must for any kitchen. Wonderful in cooking and in dressings, itscolor can range from deep green to pale gold. The less refined the oil, such as theextra virgin olive oil yielded by the first pressing, then the stronger the flavorand the higher the cost. There are many grades of olive oil on the market and youneed to be aware of what you're buying and how it's best used. The most expensive,most flavorful extra virgin olive oils are best used as a flavoring and not as acooking oil. Sometimes another vegetable oil is a better choice. Peanut and oliveoil have a high burn point, which means either is good for sautéing. Other frequentlyused oils include corn, safflower, and canola. Store them in a cool cupboard.

Souper Clue

If you live where it's very hot and humid, you might want to keep cooking oils in the refrigerator in summer. They can go off and taste rancid. Always store oils that you don't often use, especially strong-flavored oils such as Chinese toasted sesame oil, in the fridge.

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, believed to help reduce the LDL or bad cholesterollevels in your blood. Canola is the next highest oil in terms of monounsaturatedfats, and peanut oil is about half monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats includecorn, soy, safflower, and sesame oils. Although healthier than hydrogenated fats,such as margarine, or saturated fats, such as butter, they possess no cholesterol-loweringproperties.

Souper Clue

Rather than buy aerosol vegetable oil sprays for cooking and baking, fill a kitchen oil sprayer (available at many cookware shops) with olive or vegetable oil.

Here's a breakdown of commonly used oils:

  • Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing and tends to have a strong, fruity aroma and taste. It should be reserved for salad dressings, pesto, and as a condiment for drizzling on fish, pasta, vegetables, and chicken.

  • Virgin olive oil comes from the second pressing and has a milder, yet rich, full-bodied taste. It is perfect for sautéing most items.

  • Pure olive oil is more refined, and although it's not as flavorful, it can still be used for sautéing.

  • Extra-light olive oil is heavily processed and extremely mild and pale. Don't be fooled--it doesn't have less calories than other oils, just less taste. Use another, cheaper vegetable oil instead.

  • Vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, corn, and peanut range in color from yellow to gold and a re flavorless. They are excellent all-purpose oils for general cooking and are less expensive than olive oil. They can be used interchangeably, although it's worth noting that canola oil has the highest level of monounsaturated fat.

The Least You Need to Know

  • Wash and pick over all legumes before using.

  • Properly stored, legumes, rice, and dried pasta will last almost indefinitely. Keep these ingredients in a cool, dry place, preferably in a sealed glass or plastic container.

  • Cook with virgin olive oil for full-bodied flavor; otherwise, use flavorless canola, peanut, safflower, or corn oils.

Table of Contents

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Soups - Table of Contents

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Soups

Part 1 - The Soup Kitchen

  • Chapter 1 - Tooling Up
    • Pots and Pans
    • Knives
    • Essential Utensils
    • Hand and Electric Appliances

  • Chapter 2 - Stocking Up
    • In Your Kitchen Cabinets
    • In A Cool, Dry Place
    • In Your Fridge
    • In Your Freezer
    • Seasoning

Part 2 - Alphabet Soup: The Basic Ingredients

  • Chapter 3 - Off the Shelf
    • Legumes: Beans, Lentils, and Split Peas
    • Rice
    • Barley
    • Pasta
    • Olive and Other Vegetable Oils

  • Chapter 4 - From the Garden
    • Seasonal Produce Summary

  • Chapter 5 - From the Dairy Case
    • Butter and Margarine
    • Cream, Half-and-Half, Milk, and Buttermilk
    • Yogurt
    • Sour Cream
    • Tofu or Bean Curd
    • Cheese

  • Chapter 6 - From the Butcher and Fishmonger
    • Meat
    • Poultry
    • Seafood

  • Chapter 7 - Season It
    • Spices
    • Superstar Seasonings
    • Cameo Roles
    • Herbs

Part 3 - Souper Chef

  • Chapter 8 - Ready . . . Set . . . SOUP!
    • Getting Started
    • Souper Preparations
    • Prep It
    • Measuring Up
    • Get Cooking!

  • Chapter 9 - Soup Techniques
    • Broth Techniques: Homemade, Canned, and Cubes
    • Browned Chicken Broth
    • Roasted or Browned Vegetable Broth
    • Basic Techniques: To Sauté or Not to Sauté
    • Seasoning Soup with Whole Herbs and Spices
    • Salting the Soup
    • Fixing Soup Faux Pas

  • Chapter 10 - Soup Safety
    • Chilling Safely
    • Storage Containers
    • Freezing Basics
    • Thawing
    • Simple Suggestions for Reheating

  • Chapter 11 - Playing with Your Food
    • Halving and Doubling Recipes
    • How to Make Pureed Soups
    • Everything's In It but the Kitchen Sink. . .
    • You've Got Great Timing
    • Substitute Teacher
    • Make It Vegetarian
    • Lighten Up with Less Fat
    • Global Villa ge Mix 'n' Match: Using Regional Ingredients

Part 4 - From the Ladle to the Table

  • Chapter 12 - It's Your Serve
    • Serving Soup
    • Your Final Touch
    • Souper Meals

Part 5 - The Recipes

  • Chapter 13 - Liquid Foundations
    • Chicken Broth
    • Beef Broth
    • Vegetable Broth
    • Mushroom Broth
    • Fish Broth
    • Shrimp Broth
    • Clam Broth
    • Basic Dashi

  • Chapter 14 - Garden Variety Soups
    • Curried Zucchini Soup
    • Sweet Potato Soup
    • Turnip Apple Soup
    • Spiced Butternut Apple Soup
    • Herbed Beet Soup
    • Roasted Red or Yellow Pepper Soup
    • Fresh Tomato Basil Soup
    • Savory Tomato-Vegetable Rice Soup
    • Lettuce and Herb Soup
    • Parsnip and Blue Cheese Soup
    • Eggplant and Garlic Soup
    • Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
    • Spring Vegetable Rice Soup
    • Cabbage and Bacon Soup
    • Nana's Mix-and-Match Vegetable Soup

  • Chapter 15 - Legume Soups
    • Yellow Pea Soup
    • Old-Fashioned Split Pea Soup
    • Spicy Peanut Soup
    • Vegetarian Lentil Soup
    • Lentil Soup with Sausage and Potatoes
    • South of the Border Black Bean Soup
    • Garlicky White Bean Soup
    • Chickpea and Sausage Soup
    • Poor Man's Pinto Bean Soup

  • Chapter 16 - Chunky Chowders
    • Corn Chowder
    • Spicy Pumpkin and Corn Chowder
    • Jalapeño, Tomato, and Corn Chowder
    • Fresh Salmon Chowder
    • Fisherman's Chowder
    • New England Clam Chowder
    • Manhattan Clam Chowder

  • Chapter 17 - Hearty Poultry and Meat Soups
    • Chicken and Corn Soup
    • Country Chicken Noodle Soup
    • Old-Fashioned Chicken or Turkey Rice Soup
    • Easy Chicken or Turkey Vegetable Soup
    • Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
    • Nana's Beef, Vegetable, and Barley Soup
    • Spanky's Beef Soup with Tomatoes and Potatoes
    • Herbed Oxtail and Vegetable Soup
    • Scotch Broth

  • Chapter 18 - The Melting Pot
    • French Onion Soup
    • Minestrone
    • Snow Pea, Mushroom, and Scallion Soup
    • Spanish Garlic Soup with Cheese Dumplings
    • Matzo Ball Soup
    • Italian Chicken, Greens, and Tortellini Soup
    • African Gingered Chicken Rice Soup
    • Hot and Sour Soup
    • Mulligatawny Soup
    • Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
    • Consommé
    • Curried Mussel Soup
    • Indonesian Shrimp Soup with Noodles
    • Japanese Vegetable and Pork Soup
    • Miso and Vegetable Soup
    • Bread Soup
    • Sicilian Fis h Soup
    • Hearty Winter Borscht

  • Chapter 19 - Cream Soups and Bisques
    • Creamy Potato Leek Soup
    • Cream of Carrot Soup with Nutmeg
    • Cream of Carrot Orange Soup
    • Cream of Mushroom Soup
    • Tomato Orange Bisque
    • Cream of Tomato Soup Variations
    • Easy Creamy Spinach Soup
    • Cream of Asparagus Soup
    • Cream of Cauliflower Soup
    • Cream of Broccoli Soup
    • Broccoli Cheddar Soup
    • Creamy Cheddar Cheese Soup
    • Easy Crab Bisque
    • Easy Lobster Bisque
    • Barbara's Canned Salmon Bisque

  • Chapter 20 - Chill Out
    • Cucumber Soup
    • Avocado Soup
    • Watercress or Swiss Chard Soup
    • Lemony Minted Green Pea Soup
    • Vichyssoise
    • Spanish Gazpacho
    • Carrot Ginger Soup
    • Cold Sorrel or Spinach Soup
    • Very Berry Fruit Gazpacho
    • Cantaloupe Orange Soup

  • Chapter 21 - Fast Finishes
    • Bacon Bits
    • Pesto
    • Baked Croutes or Croutons
    • Oven-Toasted Bread



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