Secrets of great soup

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1. Make the soup ahead; the flavors will blend after a day or two.

Before serving the soup, warm it gently so fragile ingredients don't fall apart, then stir in just enough stock or water to replace the liquid absorbed by items like beans or rice. Reheat again. If your recipe calls for pasta, cook it separately and add it to the soup right before serving so that the noodles don't get too soft.

2. Substitute one vegetable for another, but stay in the same family.

If you can't find kale, use another hearty green; if you don't have turnips, add rutabagas instead. And if you're tired of pasta, replace it with rice on one-inch cubes of toasted peasant bread.

3. Don't be afraid to adjust the consistency of the soup. If it's too thick, add stock or water. If it's too thin, simmer until slightly reduced or stir in some pureed cooked beans, potatoes or a few tablespoons of cornmeal. (Be sure to simmer the soup until the cornmeal softens.)

4. Intensify flavor with last-minute additions. Among the options: a handful of fresh chopped herbs, such as cilantro or basil; a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a spoonful of pesto or a squeeze of lemon juice; a sprinkling of slivered Brazil nuts or pecans.

Food and Wine

January 1995

Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 12-26-95

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