NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

January 2, 2013

Comfort in a cup

Hardy soups take off winter's chill

They couldn’t get enough mulligatawny. The soup party wasn’t for another day, but the appetites of the guests were saying the mouthful of mulligatawny couldn’t be satiated.

The “Seinfeld” episode on Kramer’s favorite soup by the Soup Nazi obviously had a lot to do with it, but curiosities and appetites were piqued.

Here was everyone’s chance to try the exotic mulligatawny.

What is it? Where’s it from? What’s in it?

Truth be told, they didn’t really want to know that it’s an Indian soup with curry paste. Those with the biggest appetite for saying mul-li-ga-tawny aren’t adventurous eaters and wouldn’t touch it if they knew what was in it.

But even these professed blandies lined up for a bowlful when a double batch of soup emerged from the kitchen. They finally got a taste of mulligatawny—and they liked it!

Soup is universal. Spice it up, tone it down, keep it simple or load it with ingredients. The results are the same: Warm or cold, it’s comfort in a cup.

It’s delicious and nutritious whether slurped from a cup or savored with a spoon. You could say soup is giving — and forgiving. Throw in anything. Thicken it in so many ways: cornstarch, pureed cooked beans, cooked mashed potatoes, 2 tablespoons of almonds or cashews soaked in hot water and pureed, barley, a flour slurry, with potato starch or semolina flour.

The other wonderful thing about soup is that it swings both ways.

All of these soups can be made with vegetable broth — with meat added after the soup is done. So the newly minted vegetarian at one end of the house and the lifelong meat eater at the other end can both be happy without stressing the cook.

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