As May is the month when many of the yachts visiting the Caribbean return to their home ports, I thought that an article on the value of soup as a delivery dinner might be helpful. Soup is an interesting topic; it was actually served as one of civilization’s first fast foods. Before there was soup, there was broth, which people used to pour over bread in a bowl. That bread was known as sop and from sop came the world soup. As early as 500 BC the Greeks sold soup as a fast food on the streets using beans, peas and lentils as the main ingredients.
My suggestion is to start off with cold soups, while still in the Caribbean, and change to warmer flavors as the climate chills going north. It is important to know the differences between stock, broth and consommé.
Stock is the foundation for broth or consommé and, unstrained, is the richest and thickest of the three. The basic technique for making stock is to sauté, in olive oil, any type of meat, fish or foul with vegetables that are rich in flavor – carrots, celery, onion, garlic, etc. Simmer and add water with wine or beer as well as seasonings; then simmer for several hours.
Broth is the liquid from the cooked stock – a soup of its own. Consommé is a more refined version of broth that is cooked down even further and then clarified and served as a light first course, garnished with fresh herbs.
Pureed soups generally use ground, mashed or finely chopped vegetables as the main ingredient, often enriched with stock, milk or cream. They are delicious when served cold – such as iced Gazpacho, cold cucumber soup and vichyssoise. However, as one sails north, hot soups are nice such as pumpkin or squash, tomato or potato.
Chowders are rich, thick, chunky soups that include a main ingredient, such as a meat/fish of some sort, mixed with potatoes & onion and sautéed in flavorful fats (I get hungry just thinking of this one). You can also add cream, milk or tomatoes with wonderful herbs. A perfect example of this is Manhattan clam chowder.
Bisques are smooth soups that have a cream base and consist of seafood; they start out like stock with shells and such, then are creamed or pureed, as in lobster bisque.
Stews contain meat, vegetables and a thick soup broth made from a combination of the stewing liquid and the natural juices of the food being stewed. These are perfect for cold evenings when served with freshly baked bread.
Bouillabaisse is French for boiling. Basic flavorings are boiled together with wine and tomatoes then blended with fresh seafood cooked in at the last minute. The key here is the flavorings. Herbs should always be as fresh as possible and their tastes should blend together.
Ratatouille is a southern French dish made from eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. There are many different variations, and today you can find ratatouille pies, soups, and quiches; it is the most versatile dish as it can be used as a stew, a pasta sauce, a salad or a base for poached eggs, pitas, melted with veggies in the microwave or used as a sauce for breads.
Herbs – Whatever you use be sure you know the correct combination of herbs. Examples of this are that leeks pair with dill; carrots with ginger; corn with chives; broccoli or spinach with nutmeg; artichokes with rosemary and tomato with basil. Knowing these combinations can put the finishing touches onto a great bowl of soup and will give your delivery the aroma of being out on an executive cruise.
So regardless of where you are sailing or what route you choose, be sure your galley contains plenty of local ingredients to make your delivery dinner soup the best possible meal.