Shaatra weighs in on:Soup Smarts – Great tips for cooking up that nourishing
winter comfort food.

This month’s expert:Danielle Renov, founder of

Looking for a pretty presentation for your soup? Danielle Renov of, has the answers!

If applicable, suggests Danielle, let meat and chicken boil in the soup pot, but separately in a mesh bag. Remove, shred, and neatly place a mound of pulled beef or chicken in the center of the soup for a pleasing presentation.

In pureed soups, whip up a “flavored oil” by blending olive oil with herbs like cilantro, basil, or chives. Strain mixture, discard herbs, and reserve flavored oil. Drizzle the liquid on the surface of the soup for a breathtaking contrast with the yellow or orange of your soup. Flavored oils add a hint of fresh flavors in your soup, too.

Chunky vegetable soups are pretty all on their own. Be sure to have a variety of colors and textures for a truly awesome display.

Do you have any substitutions for heavy cream in soups?

Danielle: I sure do! So many people love the idea of cream of broccoli soup or the like but cannot bear the thought of putting all that heavy cream in it. Not to worry! Drain and rinse a can of white beans and toss into your pot. Puree and see how well a few beans can do the trick in giving your soup that creamy touch. Alternatively, substitute heavy cream for equal amounts of almond or rice milk. This way, you’ll relish that dreamy, creamy taste in your soup without ingesting all that calorie-packed cream.

Food for Thought –

Stone Soup– a tale from my childhood, and perhaps yours, as well. It’s the story of a clever, hungry villager who cons some other villagers into contributing vegetables and seasonings toward his boiling “stone soup.” The villagers are amazed at how the hungry villager has made such a scrumptious soup from a stone. There are likely more versions to this old folktale than there are words in this article. The inedible objects in some versions are nails, axes, and buttons. There’s the Russian, French, Chinese, and Hungarian versions, each with a different twist.

About It!

That soup mix has definitely got to go, urges Danielle. For good. Truly wholesome soups are packed with flavor all on their own. You simply need to extract the maximum flavor out of each component of the soup. The secret, explains our mastermind chef, is to layer your flavors. In a chicken mushroom barley soup, for example, first sear the chicken, then sauté an onion, then roast or sauté mushrooms, and, finally, add water, wine, herbs, and seasonings. Additionally, suggests Danielle, each component of soup should be spiced, rather than merely sprinkling salt, pepper, and turmeric in a pot of water. Oh, and speaking of spices, don’t go overboard; spices are meant to enhance a soup’s natural flavor, not to overpower.

Shopping List

Soup lovers – be sure to keep these soup staples in your pantry:

Wines – Danielle loves the depth of flavor that even a small amount of wine can lend to a pot of soup. She recommends having on hand Kedem sherry and dry red and white wines.

Chicken stock– Short on time? Soups can happen in no time if you’ve got some chicken stock on hand. Danielle goes for the natural, organic, low sodium containers of the stuff.

Herbs– Fresh herbs make all the difference in soup.

Spotlight On:

Round Two

Soup belongs to that rare food category of tasting better on day two. The best way to reheat? Let soup warm up for several hours at room temperature before heating on low. At the very least, if warming up immediately over the flame, do so on a simmer and mix every few minutes.