Monday, December 11, 2017
Cooking

From the food editor: A soup recipe for cold Florida nights

This always happens in January.

We endure (or celebrate, depending on who you are) 80-degree Christmases then watch as temperatures fall. As I write this, we're facing another weekend of high temperatures only in the 50s — balmy for the rest of the country, uncomfortably cold for this native Floridian.

One thing reliably helps kick-start the thawing process: warm foods.

It's time for a comforting soup recipe.

This week's suggestion is a light yet creamy soup that gets its flavor from caramelized onions, which take on a totally new flavor after being cooked down then pureed with leeks, garlic and shallots. A bit of cream and butter make this a luscious, hearty option for those nights when you're debating whether to put the heat on.

In that spirit, here are three tips that will up your soup game.

Add a cheese rind: This trick works best in a brothy homemade soup, since they tend to be naturally less flavorful. If you have fresh Parmesan cheese in the house, don't throw it away once you get to the rind. Instead, chuck that rind into your simmering pot of soup. (Hint: Some speciality stores even sell just the cheese rind. It never hurts to stock up.) It may dissolve completely as it cooks; if not, just remove it right before serving. Either way, it imparts cheesy goodness into your recipe.

Creamier soup without the cream: Let's face it: Creamier soups are usually superior to their non-creamy counterparts. But there are a couple of ways to thicken up your recipe without adding a bunch of cream. First, if you're making a more chunky soup like potato or tomato, simply remove a cup or two from the batch and puree. Then, add the pureed soup back to the pot, and, voila, thickness. A similar trick is to add a few hunks of stale bread, torn into pieces, then puree the soup a bit. Another option: Add yogurt in place of the cream. It also provides a nice tang.

Season, season, season: When making homemade soup, sometimes we have to work extra hard to make sure it's not bland. Especially if you're using storebought chicken or veggie broth, the final product could likely use some heavy seasoning. So make sure you're seasoning it throughout with salt and pepper, from the very first step of the process until the simmering action at the end. And be sure to taste your broth throughout, so you can adjust accordingly.

Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17 on Twitter.

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