Friday, September 6, 2013

8 Toppings That Will Take Your Fall Soups Over the Top

Soups are a weakness of mine, especially the ones that are perfect for fall.  Ahhh, comfort food at its finest.  I've been pinning soups a lot lately, even though I already have tried and true recipes (well, I cook from the heart so they are not exactly recipes) that I have been making for years.  It just feels good and right to always collect more soup recipe ideas.  You can never know when you will need another new soup idea in the middle of a cooking frenzy or an attack of a comfort food craving.

I have also found soups to be a perfect meal during a week's vacation at the beach house.  Large crowds (or not) will not turn their noses up to a delicious smelling, ready to go meal, after an exhausting afternoon at the beach or pool. [I joke, but do you know what I mean?  You come home from relaxing and you need to relax!  I think it's a sign of truly allowing yourself to unwind and refresh, and of really letting go.  But I digress ...]

Soups are a guilt-free weakness, though, for the most part.  Fall soups are the perfect one-pot meal, so they are easy on the chef. They are often healthier than many other things you could be filling your body with because soups often require whole foods entirely.  And fast food's got nothing on the swiftness with which you could fill your bowl with steaming hot goodness from your crockpot.  (Don't knock the crock pot.  Once you get a little of that kind of loving you will never stray again.)

You might wonder at the passion with which I can write about simple soups, as though they are not just descendants of the hard-working, nourishing, but decidedly unglamorous pioneer food.  Well, I have a secret: it's all about the toppings, baby.  All about the toppings. Take the simple Classic Chicken Noodle Soup.   Sprinkle some scallions atop, and its got a whole new identity!  Add a dollop of  Crème Fraiche to your mother's Lentil Soup, and suddenly you've got a creamy, delightful fusion of rustic and bistro flavors.  And are you ready for this?  Popcorn atop your favorite Tomato Soup.  The possibilities are endless!

Starting in the top left corner and going clockwise:  Popcorn // Matzo Ball or Matzah Ball // Chopped Herbs // Homemade Croutons // Purple Onion // Oyster Crackers // Scallions // Crème Fraiche

You'll notice some of my ideas are for those confident in the kitchen, but others are simply items from your nearby grocery store that you might not have thought to put atop the old classics.  For homemade crouton recipe, I suggest this blog post.  For Crème Fraiche try Emeril's recipe (although you can buy it at some grocery stores). Matzo balls have many different spellings and many different recipes.  I've chosen this one, mainly because I liked the note that the chef included: "OK, OK, I know; your bubbie made the perfect matzo balls. But they are finicky little rascals that are made a 1000 different ways and everyones [sic]bubbies always made them best. What I want to share here is the simplest, no nonsence methode [sic]of the creation of soft and/or firm matzo balls; for just like white and dark meat people, there are soft and firm matzo ball people."

I hope I've inspired some soup making.  Wow your family with one of these amazing toppings!