5 Easy Steps to Better Soup—No Recipe Required! (Page 3)

2. Add Other Vegetables or Meat

2. Add Other Vegetables or Meat

Here’s where you can really get creative and add your choice of vegetables and/or meat to your soup. Practically anything will work. Dig through your produce drawer and see what you’ve got. A bell pepper? Chop it up and throw it in! A potato? Absolutely! The key here is that all the vegetables should be a similar size so they cook at the same rate. And since it’s soup, you’ll want the pieces to be no bigger than bite-size so you’re not noshing on huge chunks. Are there any vegetables you shouldn’t add? Not really, but tender vegetables, like spinach or even broccoli, with its delicate florets, may not fare well with longer cooking times, so add those at the end when you might add pasta or herbs (more about that later). In terms of amounts, I like to stick to around 4 cups of vegetables for 4 to 6 servings of soup.

If you’re adding meat, add it now too. Again, chop the pieces up small enough to make them manageable for your mouth. For quicker-cooking soups, lean cuts of meat like strip steak, pork loin, chicken breast or thighs are all good choices, as are lean ground meats. Avoid chuck steak, "stew meat," brisket or pork shoulder—all tough cuts that require longer cooking times for them to break down and become tender. And stay away from bacon, prosciutto, pepperoni and other cured meats, which are very high in sodium (and some are also high in fat); they should be considered "flavorings" to be added later. About 12 ounces to 1 pound of meat is good for 4 to 6 servings.

Next: 3. Add Liquid »

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