Who's excited for the Winter Games? At my house we are. My kids are just now old enough to get excited about watching sports. Since my family loves to ski,
and my son is just learning to play hockey, I know we'll be watching a lot of those events.
For a lot of kids, the Summer and Winter Games are among their first exposures to certain sports-and to the idea that the world is filled with countries
and cultures different from their own. (That's why the opening ceremony is so exciting to watch together!)
In my family, we also try to introduce new cultures through new foods. So, I thought, what a great opportunity to combine my kids' excitement about the
games with some new flavors from around the world. That's why we created the Soups of the World recipe collection. Every culture has its own take on
hearty, comforting soups. And soups can be a good way to try out new ingredients-like fish sauce or jerk seasoning-in a familiar dish.
One of the world's most iconic soups is Russia's Borscht. Ukrainian borscht is based on
cabbage, but we stuck with the more familiar Russian version, made with chopped beets. The vegetable base is cooked in beef broth with dried mushrooms and
tomatoes. These three very traditional ingredients play an important role: They all add umami. That's that "fifth flavor" you've probably heard chefs talk
about: a certain savoriness that makes foods taste richer. And, don't skip the traditional hit of dill and vinegar at the end of cooking: This brightens up
your borscht and keeps it from feeling flat.
Our Hot & Sour Soup gets its heat from just a little bit of red chile sauce and fresh ginger. (It's worth a trip to the store to pick up fresh. You
won't get the same flavor in this soup from dried ginger.) That's very traditional. But building a complex soup base like this can take a lot of
ingredients and a lot of time at the cutting board and the stove. So we use one of our favorite shortcuts: a square of Garlic & Herb Sauté
Express® Sauté Starter. It's an almost instant way to create layers of flavor in a quick soup.
Another tried and true way to build flavor in a soup is to use smoked meat. In our old-fashioned Split Pea Soup, smoked ham shanks turn creamy, mild split peas into a meaty, filling
meal. The shank is the bottom part of a pig's leg, between the ham and the knuckle. It's meatier than a ham hock-and you definitely want plenty of meat to
cut off the bone to enhance the texture of this comforting soup.
For people from the northeast, a bowl of Creamy Corn & Clam Chowder is
about as comforting as it gets. You might think that it takes hours to make a satisfying chowder, but with canned clams and a boost from bottled clam
juice, you can get all that classic seafood flavor in about 40 minutes. A proper New England clam chowder is creamy, of course - unlike its tomato-based
Manhattan cousin - so creamy butter and half & half are de rigeur. (We call for fat free half & half so you can get the flavor and richness without
If you're a hockey fan, you might be looking forward to a Canada-U.S. match-up in the finals. (We can dream, right?) How about making a pot of Canadian
split pea soup and a pot of chowder to see whether the same team that wins on the ice can win in the kitchen?
What sports are you looking forward to watching? And, more importantly, what are you planning to cook while you watch?