Season of the soup: Local chefs give up the secrets of the best broth

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Cold months call for warm meals, and a bowl of hot soup fits the bill. Takeout soups can be cumbersome and can come with unhealthy amounts of sodium, heavy fats and starches, but when soup is made at home, it can be healthy—and be perfectly delicious. Local professional and amateur chefs shared their tips for a delectable—and healthy—homemade soup.

Karl Bader of Karl’s Kraft Soups focuses on vegan and vegetarian soups. When Bader makes his vegetable stock—the base of many of his soups—he roasts his vegetables first in the oven at a high heat. “I blast them at around 550 degrees, then I throw them into the pot with water,” Bader said.

Roasting them at such a high heat makes the vegetables delicate, so he only keeps the stock on the stove for about a half hour. “I generally wait until the very end to season things with salt,” he said.

Adding salt over time is unnecessary for flavor, and makes the soup more unhealthy, according to Bader. Other herbs go in at the end of the process, but that mainly comes down to flavor. “If you cook fresh herbs a long time, they just completely lose their punch and vitality,” he said. Bader recommends using potatoes as a thickener in lieu of flour or cream.

New Eastside resident Sue Carrel also uses this method, and recommends adding raw cashews. Carrel suggests blending cooked veggies in a broth, cashews and a pre-cooked potato in a blender. “Heat and you have a delicious cream soup,” she said.

Streeterville resident Kitty Kurth adds whatever frozen vegetables are on hand to her soup bases. She recommends adding chopped kale or spinach to soups like split pea, for an extra serving of vegetables. “After I strain the broth, the boiled down veggie scraps go into the compost,” she said.

Karl’s Kraft Soups are available at the SOAR Farmer’s Market in Streeterville in the summer. In the winter, his soups are available at any Foxtrot Market. He is also at the Indoor Hyde Park Farmer’s Market on Saturdays and at Logan Square on Sundays.
For more information, visit karlscraftsoup.com

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