Soup transformed into more than just a warm, comforting meal


From mom’s nourishing chicken noodle soup to a luscious creamy bisque, soup can be a warm comforting meal. But, can it be more?

During cooler months, soup is a popular meal. From a homemade, feel better tradition to a ready made variety, soups are a staple during the winter. But, that comforting bowl can be more than just soup. Sometimes that flavorful soup can be the flavor enhancement to a delicious meal.

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for the New York Culinary Experience)

While many people use traditional stocks as flavor enhancers, other types of soups can boost flavors in many types of recipes. By using soups as a base, the home cook has a more robust flavor with less work. Readymade soups and broths create layers of flavors without the tedious amount of cooking effort.

Using soup as a recipe base, the best ideas blend flavors that work well together. Of course, using broths is the easiest way to begin recipe creations. The simple soups can be blended with additional ingredients to make a heartier meal. But, those simple recipes are only the start.

Chef Jeff Nathan, photo provided by Jeff Nathan

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss recipe creation with Executive Chef Jeff Nathan. Chef Nathan is a culinary developmental consultant for Hain Celestial and co-owner of NYC restaurant Abigael’s on Broadway. Working with Imagine Soups, Chef Nathan created five recipes that use soup as base. These recipes vary from a lemon rosemary chicken sauté to a butternut maple vinaigrette.

Since most people think about soups as just a meal, it can be hard for people to change their mindset. According to Chef Nathan, soups can be the base for a great sauce. Starting with the base, the home cook can add some spices and another liquid, like wine, to change the taste and texture. Readymade soups can be the starting point for a delightful dish.

Imagine Soups, Ramen Broth, photo provided by Imagine Soups

Chef Nathan recommends starting with something comforting and familiar. For example, most people find chicken soup homey. Instead of the traditional, use Imagine’s Free Range Chicken Broth and add some bolder spices. Asian flavors or Mexican influences can come from some additional spices or ingredients. With a nod to the familiar, the slight variation is quite approachable.

A concern that some home cooks have is being able to balance the flavors in readymade soups. Chef Nathan recommends using a well-balanced soup and complimentary flavors to shift the dish. For example, a soup like Imagine’s Super Greens and Super Reds creamy soups have strong core ingredients. Using fresh beats or pomegranates as garnishes enhance the taste while staying true to the soup’s core ingredients.

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As the home cook becomes more confident, she is more willing to explore recipes and flavor trends. Ramen continues to be popular. Making ramen at home isn’t too difficult. For example, the Imagine’s Ramen Broth can be the base for any homemade ramen. With traditional Shio, Shoyu and Tonkotsu flavors, the home cook just needs to experiment with fresh ingredients.

Lastly, once the home cook just needs to think beyond the soup bowl. Some creamy soups can be the perfect sauce to many recipes. Chef Nathan created a couple recipes that incorporate soups as sauces. These recipes show that recipe experimentation doesn’t have to be over the top. Using flavors and ingredients that are appealing, homey and comforting can make a delicious meal.

Next time you open the pantry and see some Imagine’s Soups on the shelf, let the creative juices flow. That soup bowl might sit empty for a while because those soups are the base for some delicious meals.