Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In praise of soup

Soup, real soup, not someone's idea of soup that comes out of a can, is both comforting and economical. With a little care, mostly in attention to spices and making sure the elements are not overcooked so that they arrive on the palate in a goopy mess, you can transform yesterday's gourmet news from history into a new beginning. To begin, think about the spices that were used in preparation of your leftover vegetables and meats. Many vegetables can be neutralized by rinsing, but the spices usually cook into the meats, so if you're using meat, take your cue from whatever spices were used on it. For a winter soup, make it more hardy than brothy. Leftover couscous or pasta can effectively thicken your soup, but take care that it doesn't settle in at the bottom of the pot and stick. To make it special, put something fresh in: A handful of kale ribbons, a grilled chicken breast, or a sprinkling of arugula on top when it's served. If you do a puréed vegetable soup, add a drizzle of whipped yogurt or a dollop of aioli, a grating of ginger or lemon peel. Sometimes a little touch can raise a homey soup to a dinner worth coming home to. And don't forget some hot, crusty bread to go along with it!

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