Soups differ according to their ingredients’ size, freshness and shape. I stress this as most of my soups are created to clean out the refrigerator of bits and pieces that didn’t get eaten already.
Perhaps the eggplant is a little bruised or the celery limp. Like the storied stone soup, these soups are better for their diversity, for all the little things that get added. A little spice, a little tomato paste, or a green vegetable, fresh or frozen, can change the look, aroma, taste and texture, making uninviting leftovers into a beckoning meal.
Three of us made up new soups from what we had, using ideas from soups we’d made in the past or ones we’d wanted to make but never did. Each can be a whole soup in itself, or a vehicle for additions and substitutions. I think of them as found gold. They can stay in the refrigerator for several days, ready to be used when needed.
Cathy Nutatis lives down the street from us. She has frequent visitors, grown children, grandchildren and an appreciative spouse. She is busy. I treasure her recipes as they pass the test of usability and are welcoming and friendly as she is.
One particularly welcoming soup has a base of cheese, with added color to entice the eye. It makes for a cozy meal when the fireplace is lit to take the chill off the house. It invites additions of protein as well when a hardier soup is needed.
Lauren Furey is a student at College of Charleston but cooks around, once interning for me and personal cheffing and catering on occasion. If there is an opportunity to learn, she is there. She is willing and able, and, frankly, a joy to be with.
Laurens’ soup is one she created when interning with me over a year ago. The warmth goes right down to one’s belly. Its color changes according to the mushrooms used, the depth of the roasted cauliflower’s umber and the hue of its protein, which in this rendition is ham.
All of these soups used store-bought chicken stock, but could be vegetarian with vegetarian stock and without meat included.
Mine was developed after I became intrigued with the combination of eggplant and peanut butter, remembering the smoothness of peanut soup, but adding a rich array of spices and a crunchy peanut and herb garnish. In short, it is not one’s ordinary humdrum soup. It too is very accepting of what additional protein comes from the pantry or freezer, but can supply an all-in-one meal.
Having once made them (a good idea with any new recipe), feel free to embellish. Some suggestions for additions or substitutions follow each recipe.