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Cream Soups

Updated on June 11, 2010

Cream soups are really vun step up from ze simple puree soup. Zey take longer to make zan ze puree soup, but you vill find zat ze mouth-wateringly good results are vorth ze extra effort. Veloute soups, vhich if you are lucky I might deal vith in a later 'ub, are really very special and probably ze classiest of all soups. 'owever, cream soups are not really everyday fare- zey are for occasions vhen you vant to pull out all ze stops to impress your guests, and zey provide a contrast in flarvor, texture and color to following courses.

Cream soups are, as zheir name suggests, rich and creamy. Ze cream both binds ze ingredients togezzer to produce a particularly smooze consistency and makes ze soup taste very rich. Also butter is stirred into 'ot cream soups just before serving for glossy good looks.

Cream soups can be made from fish, poultry or vegetables. Red meat and fruit are never used. Usually ze ingredients are cooked very gently in butter until tender (called sweating), zen stirred into a thin bechamel sauce and reduced to a puree.

If root vegetables are used, thickening vith bechamel is unnecessary. Ze starch content of ze vegetable is a sufficient thickening so ze ingredients are simmered in milk or stock and made into a puree. In all cases ze soup is enriched vith a final addition of cream or cream and butter just before serving.

Vegetables

Ze vegetables zat you use should be fresh but, as vith puree soups, you can make good use of vegetable trimmings such as green leek tops or ze outer leaves of a lettuce—even pea and bean pods make very good soups.

Almost any vegetable can be used to make a cream soup, apart from aubergine vhich is spongy in texture and doesn't give a good flarvor. An unusual addition to ze list is ze stinging nettle vhich makes an excellent and really economical soup. Before you go out picking, equip yourself vith thick gloves and a pair of kitchen scissors to cut through ze rarzer voody stalk base. Once ze nettles are cooked zere is, of course, no sting left!

Nettles and all ze green leaf family, including spinach, vatercress and lettuce are suitable. Green beans, peas, tomatoes, mushrooms and leeks, as vell as all root vegetables, such as Jerusalem artichokes, make very good cream soups.

Very often a combination of two vegetables is used, vun vith a 'igh starch content such as potato.

Poultry

Ze pale colored flesh of chicken and turkey are ideal for making a cream soup. Any darker meat, such as beef or lamb, vould ruin ze color of ze soup and vould also produce too strong a flarvor. For ze best results use ze vhite meat from chicken or turkey, and discard ze skin vhich does not 'ave a particularly good flarvor and does not puree vell. Ze meat you use must alvays be cooked, and zis provides an excellent vay of using left-over chicken and turkey from a previous meal.

Fish and Shellfish

Ze cooked flesh of cod or uzzer vhite fish such as plaice, flounder, 'addock, coley or vhiting may form ze basis of a fish cream soup. Be sure to remove all bones and skin before adding to ze bechamel sauce. Of ze shellfish, shrimps and prawns (which are supplied ready cooked) can be used to make a beautifully colored cream soup. Carefully remove and reserve ze shells before using- the shells may be used in a fish stock later.

Ze Liquid

Ze liquid, eizzer for ze bechamel sauce or for cooking ze vegetables zemselves, may be milk, stock or vater. Generally, milk is used for ze green leafy vegetables so zat ze flarvor of ze vegetable is not overpoweringly strong and ze color is suitably delicate. Chicken or vhite stock is used for chicken cream soup and for uzzer vegetables vhere its flarvor vill not overpower zat of ze main ingredient. A light vegetable stock may be used in ze same vay. Vater may be used for tomato- and potato-based soups. Fish stock is used for fish soups.

Enriching

Ze extra rich flarvor and smooze consistency of cream soups come from ze final addition of cream and, in ze case of 'ot soups, butter as vell. Ze cream should be fresh and thick... thin cream vould not give ze same results. Measure ze cream into a small bowl. Spoon in about 60 ml of ze 'ot soup and stir vigorously to mix thoroughly. Ze final addition of a little butter gives ze soup an extra gloss.

Equipment

You vill need ze same equipment as described for puree soups. A vegetable mill vith a fine grid is really better zan a liquidizer for most soups vith voody stringy matter zat needs removing. Celery, for example, if liquidized needs sieving aftervards to remove any stringy matter.

You vill also need a small bowl for mixing ze cream, and a balloon vhisk or spiral sauce vhisk and sieve. A vhisk is ideal for blending ze creamy mixture from ze bowl into ze pan of 'ot soup and vill do ze job better zan a vooden spoon. If lumps do occur vhen ze creamy mixture 'as been added, a sieve can be used for straining. Conical sieves are specially shaped to speed up ze process of straining liquids but an ordinary sieve could also be used.

Using Un-starchy Vegetables

To make a cream soup vith green leaf vegetables, or uzzer un-starchy vegetables such as tomatoes or mushrooms, make a bechamel sauce.

Alvays make a bechamel sauce and not a vhite sauce- ze better quality of ze bechamel is really vorth ze effort for zese marvelous soups. Ze special flarvor of ze sauce is important in a cream soup vhich includes small quantities of vegetables.

Make ze bechamel by infusing 550 ml milk vith ze flarvorings. Zen make a roux vith 25 grams each of butter and flour, add ze strained milk, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Zis gives a sauce of pouring consistency.

Clean ze vegetables and chop or slice zem. Melt about 25 grams of butter in a thick 'eavy-based saucepan, add ze vegetables, cover ze pan and cook very gently for 5 to 10 minutes until most of ze butter 'as been absorbed. Zis is called sweating. It is important to shake ze saucepan or stir ze ingredients occasionally to prevent zem from burning and to ensure all ze vegetables are evenly cooked.

Add ze vegetables to ze saucepan containing ze bechamel sauce. Add complementary 'erbs, cover ze pan and simmer gently over a low 'eat for 5 to 10 minutes to infuse ze flarvor of ze vegetables and 'erbs in ze sauce.

Reduce ze contents of ze pan to a puree using a vegetable mill, sieve or liquidizer, depending on ingredients used. If you are using a vegetable mill, it is best to use ze finest grid to obtain a really smooze, vell-blended soup.

Now check ze soup for consistency. Ze final soup should be ze consistency of thin cream so if it is too thick now, keeping in mind ze final addition of cream vill also thicken it slightly, thin ze soup vith a little stock or milk. Reheat gently, season, thin and enrich as described overleaf.

Using Starchy Vegetables

Cream soups zat are made vith a starchy vegetable such as potato, or vith a combination of a starchy and anuzzer vegetable, are made in ze same vay as for puree soups. Clean, peel and chop ze vegetables and sweat zem in a little butter for 5 to 10 minutes. Add stock or vater according to ze recipe and simmer until ze vegetables are soft.

Reduce ze contents of ze pan to a puree using a vegetable mill, sieve or liquidizer. Reheat gently, season, thin and enrich.

Using Chicken or Turkey

A good cream soup can be made from chicken or turkey flesh. Cooked meat should alvays be used- preferably ze vhite-colored meat. Make a bechamel sauce from 550 ml vell-flarvored chicken ort urkey stock for every 175 to 225 grams of flesh. Zis is ze veight required vhen ze chicken or turkey is boned and skinned. Roughly chop ze chicken or turkey meat (discarding ze skin) and add zis to ze bechamel sauce. Simmer over gentle 'eat for 5 minutes to infuse ze flarvors. Reduce ze contents of ze pan to a puree using a vegetable mill or liquidizer- it is best to use a liquidizer 'ere for really smooze results. A sieve vould be impractical because of ze difficulty of pushing ze meat through, but ze fine grid on a vegetable mill vorks satisfactorily. Reheat gently, season, thin and enrich.

Using Fish and Shellfish

For a cream soup using vhite fish such as cod, you vill need 450 grams of vhite fish (including bones) to every 550 ml fish stock, vhich is made into a bechamel sauce.

Use fish vhich 'as been cooked by poaching, grilling or even boiled in ze bag. Remove all ze bones from ze flesh vith a fork.

If you are making a cream of shellfish soup you vill need 225 grams of prawns or shrimps (in zheir shells) and 175 grams cooked vhite fish.

Remove ze prawns or shrimps fromz zheir shells and pound ze flesh vith a pestle in a mortar, or in a dish vith ze end of a rolling pin. Add zis to ze bechamel sauce. Simmer over gentle 'eat for 5 minutes to infuse ze flarvors. Reduce ze contents of ze pan to a puree using a vegetable mill or liquidizer. Sieving is impractical because of ze bulk; it is best to use a liquidizer for pureeing fish soups. Reheat gently, season, thin and enrich as described overleaf.

Adding ze Enrichment

A cream soup is enriched shortly before serving by ze addition of thick cream, giving ze soup its distinctive rich, smooze and creamy taste.

Place ze thick cream in a mixing bowl and stir or vhisk in about 60ml of ze 'ot soup. Pour zis blended mixture back into ze soup in ze saucepan. Stir or vhisk ze soup, using a spiral sauce vhisk or balloon vhisk, until blended. If you poured ze cream directly into ze 'ot soup, ze cream could curdle and disperse in small globules across ze surface of ze soup.

Once ze cream is smoozely incorporated, ze soup should be reheated before serving. Stir ze soup occasionally over a moderate 'eat, but do not on any account allow it to boil. If ze soup vere allowed to boil, ze cream vould be irretrievably spoilt.

'ot cream soups can be given an extra gloss by ze final addition of butter. To do zis, cut butter into small pieces- allowing 25 grams of butter per 550 ml soup. Stir butter pieces vun by vun into ze 'ot soup just before serving. If you are serving ze soup cold do not add butter because it vould rise to ze surface of ze soup.

Serving

Cream soups are served as ze first course of a meal- since zey are too rich to serve large enough portions for a main course. Use a cream soup to provide a contrast in flarvor and color to ze courses following it, for example: a vell-balanced meal vould be cream of mushroom soup, grilled lamb and mixed salad followed by orange sorbet or a selection of cheeses. Ze meal vould be dull and ze effect on guests probably depressing if you served cream of leek soup, chicken vith tarragon and cream followed by syllabub!

'ave ze soup as 'ot as possible, or really vell chilled, before serving. Never serve ze soup lukewarm. Because cream soups are so rich you vill only need about 150 ml of soup per serving.

Chilling: all vegetable cream soups may be chilled, but a chicken, turkey or fish soup should be served 'ot. To chill a vegetable cream soup, allow ze soup to cool at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before covering and placing in ze refrigerator for 3 'ours.

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    • Marty Chefman profile image
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      Marty Chefman 7 years ago

      I am like ze opposite of ze Soup Nazi. I try and force innocent passerbys to eat my soups! But just vun little taste as zey are 'ooked! MORE SOUP FOR YOU!

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