Plated: Soup

By Rebecca Turner

Nothing spells comfort better than homemade soup. Whenever it’s frigid outside, you feel blue or need solace, a bowl of soup warms you from the inside out. And, when you’re under the weather, soups help keep you hydrated and well-nourished with essential vitamins, allowing you to feel better faster. But, making soups from scratch at home can seem daunting and time intensive. Don’t be intimidated, adapt any soup recipe to a slower cooker or improve recipes with a few suggestions.

Toss it in, turn it on, and let it simmer. That is the conventional way to make soup, but the timing of certain ingredients can take your soup to the next level. Some elements benefit from longer cooking times and should be added at the start. Onions, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, winter squashes, tomatoes, celery, cauliflower, and broccoli. Lean cuts from the shoulder and rump of beef, lamb, goat, pork, whole chicken, chicken thighs, and chicken legs. Most spices should be added at the beginning of cooking, except for the rosemary, which can become bitter over the most extended cooking times. For best results, keep rosemary till the end.

Softer ingredients cook quicker and can turn to mush or lose flavor the longer it cooks. Add the following ingredients in the last 30 to 45 minutes or (sooner if in the slow cooker) of cooking. Vegetables such as peas, corn, bell peppers, and spinach. Meat such as fish and other seafood. Milk, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, and coconut milk are best added at the end. Cut down cooking time by adding rice, noodles, and other grains already cooked, though uncooked grains help soak up excess liquid and make them more flavorful.

Remember these tips, and warm up your family with a bowl of homemade soup.

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