Banking soups, stocks yields mealtime returns

Soup lover that I am, I know that a big pot of turkey-noodle does little to inspire appetites a week after Thanksgiving.

That’s why I tried with this week’s A la Carte section to offer soup alternatives using just the homemade turkey stock, virtually indistinguishable from chicken stock. While cooks are shaking things up, the recipes accompanying the story included creative interpretations of squash and carrot soups, a mushroom soup enriched with chestnuts along with a more traditional minestrone.

And acknowledging the seasonal appropriateness of soups (and the fact that not everyone still has turkey for stock), I added a recipe for a hearty oxtail soup with one of my favorite additions, barley.

Part of the inspiration for the story came from a class planned for next week at Jacksonville Mercantile. Another classroom opportunity awaits Monday, Dec. 3, at Oregon Health Management Services in Grants Pass. Call 541-471-4208 to register. OHMS’s free class from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. promotes the concept that soups are not only healthful and economical but a way to ease the stress of holiday entertaining.

I’ll attest to that. I’ve often heard the mantra that food in the freezer is “like money in the bank.” Although some items freeze better than others, with soup, you’re practically guaranteed an equal or greater return on your original investment.

When my husband and I returned from my parents’ house on the coast Sunday afternoon, the obvious choice for dinner after a weekend of so much cooking and feasting was a warm and hearty but not heavy bowl of minestrone homemade from garden vegetables. I’ve blogged before about my penchant for freezing soups in quart portions, but just to reiterate, minestrone in particular easily is bulked up with canned beans, cooked pasta, even a few of my homemade meatballs, often frozen for future use.

Take chef Constance Jesser’s advice to heart about cutting ingredients about all the same size for the most pleasing soup. Purees can be made right in the pot with an immersion blender or food mill. Depending on the type of soup, I like to push the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to extract any tough vegetable fibers.

One of my favorite tricks is adding just a splash of dry sherry or cider vinegar at the end of cooking for a little wow factor. Remember that if you’re freezing a soup that calls for dairy, freeze the base at the point in the recipe right before you would add the milk or cream.

And if you still need your annual turkey soup fix, try this recipe courtesy of McClatchy News Service.

Turkey Soup With Fall Vegetables and Wild Rice

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup peeled and diced onions

1 cup diced leeks

1⁄2 cup peeled and diced turnips, butternut squash or rutabaga

1⁄2 cup chopped mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs thyme

6 quarts turkey stock

1 cup cooked wild rice

1 cup diced raw potatoes

2 cups shredded turkey meat

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot; add all of the vegetables, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cook over medium-high heat until soft, for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the turkey stock to vegetables and bring to a simmer.

Add the cooked wild rice and diced potatoes; simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 25 minutes.

Add the turkey meat and chopped parsley; simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with the salt and cracked pepper, remove thyme and bay leaves and serve.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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