General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Where in the soup-making process can I insert an overnight pause?

Asked by Jeruba (41856 points ) February 7th, 2012

I have a very delicious soup recipe that I’ve used a number of times. It takes 2½ to 3 hours altogether. I would like to do some of it a day ahead and then refrigerate overnight to shorten the preparation time on the day that I want to serve it to guests.

The steps are basically as follows:
1. Cook some bacon.
2. Add vegetables in a certain order and cook until tender.
3. Add chicken broth and seasoning.
4. Simmer for an hour.
5. Add milk, bring back to a boil, and serve.

I’m thinking that the place to stop is either before or after step 4. Which is preferable for best results? Advice welcome.

Note, this soup is always even better on the second day, so I wouldn’t worry about letting it sit overnight before company comes.

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12 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes, @Jeruba I almost always make our soup for the next day. If adding milk, I do that just prior to serving.

The overnight break happens after step 4.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Either would work, but I would let the soup sit after performing step 4. The simmering will blend the flavors so they can meld together while they are sitting overnight. Just bring the soup back up to a simmer before adding the milk.

Earthgirl's avatar

You say you add the vegetables in a certain order so I assume some of them require and/or tolerate less cooking to be optimum. If some of the vegetables are the sort that soften up a lot with cooking I would stop simmering the soup after ½ hour. Then, as WestRiverrat says, they will develop flavor overnight. You will need to reheat before adding milk of course. That will finish the vegetables without overcooking them. Since they will have been sitting overnight they will have plenty of flavor yet they won’t be too mushy and disintegrated. Add the milk and you’re done.

john65pennington's avatar

You can stop anywhere in the recipe, just be sure to refrigerate all items till the next day.

Wife does this all the time.

You are correct, homemade soup tastes better the second day. jp

anartist's avatar

Definitely before the milk. Milk is dicey.
Anywhere before is ok too.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, everyone! So—definitely before step 5, I’m clear on that. Your experience gives me confidence.

@Earthgirl, your assumption is correct. Vegetables include onions, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini. Obviously the carrots, for example, will hold up better than the zucchini.

So if I stop simmering after half an hour, do I call that enough, or do I begin the next day with another half hour’s simmer? Are you saying that just bringing it up to temp will do the trick?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Jeruba If you stop half way through the simmering process, you should probably simmer for about 35–40 minutes the next day. You would definately want to make sure it is up to temp so you don’t have any nasty bacteria to deal with.

JLeslie's avatar

I assume adding the broth loosens whatever yummies are on the bottom of the pan after cooking the bacon and veggies. I think you could probably stop cooking within 5 minutes after everything is loosened and incorporated into the broth, which usually happens very fast, if you want to significally shorten the cooking time the first days. Then the majority of the hard work is done the day before, and the majority of the unwatched pot cooking is left for the day of your event when you are probably doing 10 things at once. But, I am no expert at these things.

Earthgirl's avatar

Zucchini.Hmmm, now you are inspiring me to cook soup. I love zucchini but one thing I hate is when it gets all mushy. Do you usually add zucchini and if so, doesn’t it disintegrate into the broth after an hour? Most zucchini soup recipes seem to puree the broth so I am curious. My thought is to roast the zucchini while you are simmering the rest of the soup the first day, then add it near the end when you are reheating the soup on the second day (like 15 minutes before serving.) The roasting will sweeten it and enrich the flavor as well as release some of the water in it so it doesn’t dilute your broth and ruin the flavor. I have never tried this to be honest but that is how I would do it. But then, I like to make things more complicated. :)

Jeruba's avatar

@Earthgirl, here’s the complete list of ingredients:

3–6 slices lean bacon
1 bay leaf
2–6 sprigs fresh thyme, depending on size (I use 6)
1 medium to large onion, chopped
1 or more cloves garlic (depending on how you feel about garlic), minced (optional)
1 lb potatoes—small red or white, sliced in ¼” pieces
¼ cup carrots, chopped (optional)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced in ¼” pieces
16 oz. frozen corn, or kernels sliced from 5 or 6 fresh ears
¼–½ lb fresh mushrooms (optional), sliced
other fresh vegetables as available and desired
1 qt low-sodium, fat-free Swanson’s or other chicken broth
sweet paprika (not hot)
salt if needed
1 pint cream, milk, or even Half and Half

(Vegetarian alternative: use veg. stock, no bacon, smoky paprika)

The quartered bits of zuch mostly lose the pulp—it just blends into the broth and thickens it—and the arcs of green remain decently firm. I think this is fine. There’s plenty of solid stuff with the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, etc.

Earthgirl's avatar

Jeruba It sounds delicious! Yes, with the bits of zucchini being so small it sounds like it will just richen the broth. I love that it has bacon and mushrooms too! I want to try it.

Jeruba's avatar

You probably don’t even need any steps written out. I did, though. I half heard this recipe on a cooking show in a salon while I was getting my nails done, wrote down what I remembered later, and made up the rest. I added the mushrooms.

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