I’m a Soup Freak; what I keep on hand

I’m not someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. Maybe because I worked from home for so long that I got in the habit of eating most of my meals out. I have a handful of favorite dishes I cook for myself and for friends and one of my favorite things to cook is soup.

Sometimes I do this in a structured manner, like deciding on split pea soup and buying just those ingredients, but most often I find myself in the store looking at a juicy stalk of fennel next to a fat leek and the ideas start to flow. If I have no direction in mind, I can just let the fresh vegetables of the day direct me.

I love all kinds of soups. I love thick, chunky stews and I love a simple, delicate broth. I like leafy kale soups and hearty root vegetable soups.

In my past incarnation (in this lifetime), I was a heavy meat eater. Sausage and ham hocks were the first ingredients into every soup! As I turned more health conscious at the turn of the new millennium, I embarked on a mission to discover food alternatives with massive flavor and minimum fat, and big hunks of meat no longer appealed to me.

There are a few standard ingredients I always keep on hand. My vegetarian friends won’t like this part…

Canned beef broth
Canned chicken broth
Frozen bay scallops
Frozen shrimps in the shell

My pantry always includes:

Canned tomatoes, large and small cans
Canned crushed tomatoes
Canned stewed tomatoes

I always have on hand:

Fresh onions: white, red and Vidalia
Fresh garlic in bulbs
A few sweet potatoes
A few white potatoes, or Yukon Gold for flavor
Carrots
Celery
Scallions
Fresh basil (I eat a lot of fresh basil)

Vegetables I may also include in a soup if I see them fresh are:

Parsnips
Fennel
Leeks
Peppers: red, yellow and poblano
Fresh English peas!
Asparagus
Mushrooms

Favorite dried spices include:

Sea salt finely ground
Coarse ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Tarragon
Thyme
Cumin
Paprika
Coriander
Cayenne pepper
Oregano
Fennel
Bay leaves
Turmeric
Cinnamon, powder and in sticks

Favorite dried beans I keep on hand include:

Pinto beans
Split peas
White navy beans
Red kidney beans
Garbanzos
Butter beans

What’s in yours?

Andrea

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