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Tips for a successful soup

Servings: 8 (one-cup servings) Ingredients: 1 cup of chopped carrots 3/4 cup of diced celery 1 medium diced onion 6 cups of cubed butternut squash (about one large squash) 2 tablespoons of olive oil 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder 1 teaspoon of crushed thyme 1 teaspoon of crushed sage 1 teaspoon of rosemary 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (48oz. package) Directions 1. Wash butternut squash with cold running water. Remove squash skin using a vegetable peeler. Cut and remove the seeds. Cut squash into cubes. 2. In a 6-8 quart soup pot, heat oil. Add onion and saute until caramelized, then layer carrots and celery over the onion, stirring until tender. Sprinkle in the spices, saute until the ingredients are combined and enjoy their aroma. 3. Add squash cubes and toss the vegetable mixture together. Cover with the chicken or vegetable stock. Cover and simmer until tender (approximately 30 minutes). Taste, and salt as needed. 4. Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth and creamy. If using a regular blender, let soup cool and blend three cups at a time. Garnish ideas: Pepitas, goat cheese, dried cranberries, chopped apple, homemade croutons or toasted wheat bread, a dollop of sour cream or heavy cream, in moderation, cracked pepper, freshly chopped sage, toasted walnuts. Source: U of I Extension

• Don’t compromise on quality; lackluster ingredients will make a lackluster soup. • Saute vegetables in butter or oil before adding them to soup. This seals in their flavor and keeps them firm. Give onions a little extra time because slow cooking brings out their natural sweetness. • You can make a good soup with water, but a rich, homemade stock will add a depth of flavor that water can’t duplicate. • Most soups (with the exception of delicate, fresh fruit soups) improve with age and can be made a day or two in advance. Leftovers can also freeze well. • It’s easy to de-fat soup if it’s chilled first. The fat will solidify on top and can be

half adds more than 300 calories.” By comparison, one cup of stewed tomatoes adds only 66 calories, and chicken broth adds 25. Fat content is also greatly changed depending on your soup’s base. That same cup of whipping cream provides 74 grams of fat compared to approximately 1 gram for broths. “Using evaporated skim milk will give your soup the creamy taste and texture you desire, but without all the calories and fat,” Glassman said. Once the soups are ready to serve, Glassman shared the power a good garnish can create. “Garnishes are where you can show your creativity and personality, and when we’re cooking for

others, we want to show our best,” she said. She had prepared a butternut squash soup to share with those attending her program, and offered a variety of garnishes to sample with it, including dried cranberries, feta cheese, minced herbs, crou-

easily removed with a spoon. • To guard against burns, allow hot soup to cool slightly before pureeing. • Leftovers make terrific soups. Saute aromatic vegetables, such as onions, carrots and garlic in oil or butter, adding bite-sized pieces of leftover meats, along with a little stock or milk, and simmer until flavorful. • To ensure soups arrive at the table piping hot, serve them in tureens, lidded bowls or well-heated cups. • For a rich brown color, brown meat carefully. Commercial coloring can also be used. • Add a little bouillon to cream soup or a weak homemade stock to increase flavor. • Always check the sodium content of your broth and add seasonings as needed. Source: U of I Extension tons and more. She also encouraged home cooks to not be afraid to experiment with the unusual. After enjoying a bowl of soup, Hennepin resident Pauline Marchiori shared what she enjoyed about the program.

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STANDARD — When temperatures drop and families begin to retreat indoors, one of the most common cravings is for a warm bowl of hearty soup. “Soup has always been a comfort food, and you could probably eat a different soup every day and not repeat yourself,” Susan Glassman, nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, told those at the Putnam County Community Center (PCCC) on Oct. 23. Glassman hosted “Hearty Soups and Stews,” a program about the perennial kitchen favorite and reviewed the types of soups, tips to make them their tastiest, their health benefits, several recipes, garnish ideas, storage and reheating, and how to solve common problems. “There are so many things you can do with soups that are delicious, and one of my favorites which proves this is “Kitchen Sink Soup.” That’s when you get to use all of the leftovers from the week,” she said, to knowing laughter from her audience. She added that with the large variety of soups, as well as the list of possible ingredients, that the combinations are endless. “Soups are a great way to use all of the small quantities of leftover meat and vegetables that routinely accumulate in your refrigerator, and fresh, frozen or canned ingredients can all be used in them,” she said. Glassman then reviewed the basics of bisques, vegetable soups, cream soups, purees, consomme, chowders, broth and stews. She also provided several tips on reducing sodium and fat content, as well as providing nutritional information on commonly used ingredients. She said rinsing canned vegetables can reduce their sodium content by up to 40 percent, and that as long as a soup is broth or tomato-based, its calorie count will remain reasonable. “But all of that changes, though, once you begin talking about creambased soups,” she said. “One cup of light whipping cream is 698 calories, and the same amount of half-and-

Butternut Squash Soup


PCCC and U of I Extension share the necessary ingredients

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The warm comfort of a good soup


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