When is a recipe not a recipe? When you know how to make something so well you intuitively know the ratios of ingredients and you don’t have to measure. Soup is one of those things for me. Early on in my professional cooking career I spent a solid year making the “soup of the day” for the restaurant where I was working. I don’t think I repeated the soup once. I figure I made over 200 soups that year.
Today in Southern California it’s an El Nino day which means we are getting a ton of wind and dumping rain. We’ve got a fire going in the fireplace and it’s the perfect day for soup. But what kind to make? Answer, the kind you have. This was a day to use up bits and pieces of what I had in the refrigerator and pantry; vegetables, proteins and starches. Today that meant, the standard mirepoix (the basis for many soups and stews is a mirepoix; a mix of diced onions, carrots and celery which is why I always try to have these on hand), plus some ready to be used mushrooms, chicken sausage, about a cup of dried 15 bean soup mix and half a cup of rice in jars that had been sitting on my counter for months. Fortunately, I had some home made chicken stock I’d made last weekend and hadn’t yet bothered to freeze.
This soup is a base, make it your own by changing up the beans, rice, vegetables and proteins and stocks. The “recipe” below is loose and not very specific for that reason. Add herbs if you want. Use diced chicken. Use pasta instead of rice and beans. Once you know how to make soup, you can feed yourself in an unlimited number of ways with an ever-changing list of ingredients.
The photos for this post were taken with my cell phone, so if they are not fabulous, oh well. But I think they get the point across and since I gave myself permission to be imperfect last year (oddly enough in another soup post), I’m trying.