25 October 2010-
Homemade soups can be divided into two categories, namely: Clear soups and Thickened soups. This difference is strictly with regard to the liquid part of soup and not about the solid ingredients. The fluid of a clear soup is basically made from a pre-made stock which is a result of slow simmering ingredients for extracting the flavor and nutrients.
The stocks are most often made from meat or vegetable ingredients or both. In case there are bones or cartilage in the stock, the stock would invariably contain gelatin, which is actually formed by the collagen present in bones and cartilage. This provides the soup a thicker texture, more so after chilling, besides, it also helps in mixing the flavors of the soup. It is so as gelatin, like oils, fats and alcohol, is able to dissolve organic compounds, while water cannot do it that easily.
The thickened homemade soup recipes can further be divided into two. The first is the soups which use the puree of starchy vegetables like potatoes, squash, or peas in the soup. These are common food thickeners
. The lesser starchy vegetables like asparagus or broccoli can also be used, but the texture gets a better form by the former one.
The other is one wherein soups comes are thickened using dairy products or grain starch, or a combination of both. Generally , the "main" soup ingredient is kept intact, or partially puréed, as in case of cream of mushroom soup.
Another classic method of thickening a soup is to use a Bechamel. It is a concoction of flour, butter, and milk (cream can also be used instead of milk) which is added to the soup for thickening purpose. Such recipes are extensively used as thickeners and vegetable gums
. Similarly, Veloute, a butter, egg and cream mixture too can be used for thickening. Though this one is a little difficult than a béchamel, as one has to be careful about avoiding the scrambling of eggs.