|Roasted Red Pepper Soup|
1) Begin With Balance:
When gathering your ingredients, make sure to have one word on your mind: balance. Making a soup is all about finding the perfect balance of flavours, so when gathering your ingredients keep in mind what flavours each ingredient will give off. Most soups like to begin the same way, with the holy trinity mirepoix: onions, carrots, and celery. When preparing your mirepoix, keep in mind that carrots have more sweetness than onions and celery, so if you're making a sweeter soup like sweet potato, feel free to cut back on the carrots.
2) Sweat Baby Sweat:
When cooking your vegetables (particularly your mirepoix) on the stove be sure to simply sweat the vegetables (cook without colouring) as opposed to brown them. This will allow them to release their flavour without affecting the integrity of your soup. Though some soups benefit from roasting the vegetables, allowing them to get a fantastic caramelized flavour.
3) Season From Start To Finish: Never leave seasoning until the end. Always start seasoning (adding a bit at a time) from the moment you sweat your mirepoix. This will allow you build your flavour and add complexity. If you don't believe me, try making the exact same soup twice, but season one from the start, and season the other just at the end. Trust me, you'll notice the difference! Also remember that dried herbs are best used earlier in the cooking process, while fresh herbs tend to be best when added towards the end of cooking. When seasoning, always remember the golden rule: You can always add but you can never take away!
4) Consider Using a Sachet:
Worried that you won't remember to season your soup as you cook? Make a sachet out of cheesecloth filled with different herbs and spices. Fasted the sachet tightly with kitchen twine and tie to the handle of the pot. When your soup reaches your desired flavour, remove the sachet! Traditionally a sachet is filled with peppercorns, parsley stems, fresh thyme, and dried bay leaves.
5) The Immersion Blender Is Your Friend:
One of my favourite tools for making soup is my immersion blender, allowing me to quickly and effectively blend my soup without having to dirty up another pot or bowl.
6) Embrace The Sieve:
For a silky smooth soup, strain your soup through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Allow your soup to be brought back to a boil and re-taste for seasoning. The sieve may have removed any lumpy herbs or peppercorns, which could affect the final taste. After straining your soup, it's a good idea to consider what type of mouthfeel you want for your final product. Your soup may be fine as is, but consider adding a splash of cream or perhaps another splash of broth to create the ideal viscosity.
7) Add Acidity:
Taste like your soup is missing something? Add a touch of acidity! A simple squeeze of a lemon or a splash of vinegar or wine can do wonders for a soup, taking it from bland to va-va-voom!
8) Add Heat:
If you've added acidity to your soup and still feel like it's missing something, try adding a touch of heat! Even if you're not looking to add a spicy flavour to your soup, adding a pinch of heat (in the form of a dry spice like cayenne pepper or chilli pepper, or through hot sauce) adds another layer of flavour to your soup. Don't think of it as adding heat, think of it as adding flavour.
9) Go For The Garnish:
Think of your soup like a clean slate, the perfect canvas to express your creativity! Garnishing your soup is a great way to add a subtle pop of flavour as well as beautifying your soup to make it look like it just came off the line at a restaurant. Get inspired by fresh herbs, creams, sauces, dips, and dressings that you may already have on hand. If worse comes to worse, a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil is is always a great way to finish off a soup.
10) Taste, Taste, Taste:
The key to making a soup without a recipe is to taste as much as possible, and trust your instincts!