Take Your Soups From Dull to Delectable

As autumn approaches and temperatures start to drop, there is nothing more comforting — or easier — than soup. Add some crusty bread or your favorite crackers, and a simple, hearty bean soup recipe can be a whole meal.

However, you don't want to serve watery, boring soup that doesn't satisfy. Read on, and I'll share how you can make flavorful, filling soups everyone will enjoy.

  • Get creative with your vegetables. It's okay to experiment with your soup recipes. Think about your family's favorites: Does your daughter love olives? Toss some in an Italian sausage soup. Love a little heat? Use chopped jalapenos and a splash of lime juice to brighten and spice up a taco soup recipe. Need some color? Add white or red or black beans to soup recipes for a color boost with added protein and fiber.
  • Invest in an immersion blender. Have you ever wondered how chefs get creamy consistency in tomato, leek or carrot soups? An immersion (or stick) blender allows you to puree soup without taking it out of your pot. It's a lot less messy than transferring to a standard blender and allows you to get creative. Just remember to immerse the blender's head completely into the soup to avoid splatters, and then puree away. Ready to get immersed in this style of pureeing? Try this black bean chili that has pureed pumpkin.
  • Cook in the Crock. Slow cookers are an easy way to leave soups and chillis simmering all day without worrying about having the stove on unattended. Try crock pot bean soup recipes like minestrone or white bean chili. Just prep everything the night before and stick it in the fridge, then pull it out and plug it in on low in the morning.
  • Don't forget to salt! It's okay to use salt in your soups. Just do it in layers instead of all at once and taste along the way. Use kosher salt, which is less "salty" (and easier to control) than table salt. Add salt to vegetables, meat and broth separately to make sure the end product is savory, not salty. Also note that some ingredients, like canned beans, already have salt added, so be careful not to over-salt.
  • Play with your proteins. If you're looking to switch-up the protein in your soup, you have lots of alternatives. Use shredded or cubed pork shoulder or tenderloin, ground or sliced beef, canned beans, cubed or ground turkey — the options are endless. Think about the flavors in your soup: Is it a bold and hearty chili? Try using beef or pork. A more delicate soup with rice and veggies? Turkey won't compete. If you're trying to stretch your meat, recipes for bean soup are a great way to add protein. Use black or red beans with pork or white beans with chicken or turkey.

Meet Julie Niesen Gosdin

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