The 3 Types of Soup That Cover Everything
Every soup recipe in the world can be boiled down to 3 fundamental types of soup. The goal of every aspiring chef is to understand what these types of soup are so you can be free to experiment with your own creations.
When it comes to making soups, there shouldn’t be any confusion or technical abilities required outside basic cooking knowledge and cooking methods. All types of soup are pretty simple to make, although they do require a good understanding of some fundamental cooking methods, such as making a roux or a stock for the base. We have some comprehensive guides on both of these topics if you need some help here.
Soups are a great use for left-overs, and some freeze well for a healthy, preservative-free instant meal. When I was a professional cook, I took a lot of pride in creating the soup of the day and challenging my ability to come up with delicious but cost-effective recipes.
We’re going to jump right into categorizing and knowing the different types of soups and how to apply each method. Involved in this article are various recipes that will help you understand some good base recipes. Be sure to practice as often as possible – soups should be cheap, quick and easy.
The 3 Types of Soup Classifications
There are 7 types of soups that all soups fall into, regardless of what flavorings or ingredients you add. The benefit of knowing this information is that it helps you formulate recipes on the fly based on the ingredients you have. This is a huge benefit of soups as their versatility ensures that whatever leftovers you have on hand can easily be made into varying types of soup.
Soups as a primary dish are often served with premium ingredients and high-quality long-cooking broths such as Vietnamese Pho, French consommes, and traditional North American vegetable soups.
- Clear Soups
- Broth soup
- Thick Soups
- Cream Soups
- Veloute-based soups
- Puree Soups
- Cold Soups
There are countless variations for soups, and the limit is your imagination.
When you think of clear soups you think of light soups or mild-flavored soups. Most clear soups include broths and bouillons made from meats, poultry, game, fish or vegetables. There are also consommes, which are stock or broths that are clarified to remove impurities. We are going to explore a bit more about the different types of soups that everyone needs to know if they are serious about cooking.
The methods involved in making stocks, as discussed here, are virtually identical when making a broth or bouillon. Just like with stocks, broths are prepared by simmering flavoring ingredients in a liquid over a long period of time. The differences between a broth and stock are that a broth uses meat instead of just bones.
The second difference is a finished broth can be served as finished dishes while stocks are used as a base for further cooking. Stocks are light flavorings that provide a deep undertone of a flavor profile while broths are designed to be fully flavored and fully seasoned.
Transforming a broth into a broth-based vegetable soup, for example, is quite simple. Although a broth may be served with a vegetable or meat garnish, a broth-based vegetable soup is a soup in which the vegetables and meats are cooked directly in the broth, adding flavor, body, and texture to the finished product.
Any number of vegetables can be used to make a vegetable soup; it could be a single vegetable as in onion soup or a dozen different vegetables for a hearty minestrone. Making a vegetable soup allows the cook to use their imagination and whatever produce may be on hand.
It is important to ensure that when making a vegetable soup that all the ingredients are added at the appropriate time. Many vegetables have different cooking times and if added at the improper time, could result in undercooked or overcooked vegetables. Perfection is achieved when all ingredients finish cooking at the exact same time!
Creating a broth-based vegetable soup recipe is easy! Just follow these steps:
Basic Broth-Based Vegetable Soup Recipe
- Sweat long cooking vegetables in butter or fat
- add the stock or broth and bring to a simmer
- Add seasonings such as bay leaves, dried thyme, crushed peppercorns, parsley stems, and garlic in a sachet, allowing enough time for the seasonings to fully flavor the soup.
- Add additional ingredients according to their cooking time.
- Simmer the soup to blend all the flavors.
A consomme is probably one of the more complicated types of soup to be able to create. A good consomme always starts with a good stock. What a consomme does it clarify it by simmering it gently with ingredients that attract the clouding particles within a stock.
In order to make a proper consomme, you have to be able to produce what’s called a raft. These ingredients include mirepoix, tomatoes, browned onion, egg whites, and ground meat.
These ingredients are simmered with the stock and the egg whites form a raft. Breaking this raft by boiling or poking will cause the entire process to fail. The idea is to be gentle enough so the particles that have been picked up by the consomme raft aren’t agitated back into the stock.
Clarifying a Consomme
The clarification process is an intermediately-skilled process. Typically, a stock has impurities within the broth. Normally, this is of no consequence as stocks are there for flavor and those impurities are what gives it some of that flavor. However, for this type of soup, consomme, having a glass-like clarity is the most desirable trait of the dish. As such, for any consomme to be accurately called a consomme, it must be clarified.
Clearmeat for Consommes
To make a consomme, you clarify a stock or broth. The stock or broth to be clarified must be cold and grease-free. To clarify, the cold degreased stock or broth is combined with a mixture known as a clearmeat or clarification. A clearmeat is a mixture of egg whites; ground meat, poultry or fish; mirepoix, herbs and spices; and an acidic product, usually tomatoes, lemon juice or wine.
The stock or broth and clearmeat are then slowly brought to a simmer. As the albumen (protein) in the egg whites and meat begins to coagulate, it traps impurities suspended in the liquid.
As coagulation continues, the albumen combines with the other clearmeat ingredients and rises to the liquid’s surface, forming a raft. As the mixture simmers, the raft ingredients release their flavors, further enriching the consomme.
After simmering, the consomme is carefully strained through several layers of cheesecloth to remove any trace of impurities. It is then completely degreased, either by cooling and refrigerating, then removing the solidified fat.
A good consomme always starts with a good stock or broth.
Beef Consomme Recipe:
- Brunoise – A brunoise of leeks, carrots, turnip, celery, peas, and chervil
- Celestine consomme – Julienne of savory crepe, traditionally thickened with tapioca for clarity.
- Julienne consomme – Julienne of leeks, carrots, turnips, celery, cabbage, sorrel, and chervil.
Chicken Consomme Recipe:
- Caroline – Royale, rice, and chervil
- Mimosa – Sieved white and yolk of a hard-boiled egg
Fish Consomme Recipe:
- George Sand – Whitefish and crayfish quenelles, morels, carp soft roe on croutons made from French baguette.
Game Consomme Recipe:
- Saint-Hubert – White wine, game, and lentil royale, julienne of game.
There are generally two different types of thick soups: Cream veloute-based soups and puree soups. Cream veloute-based soups are thickened with a roux, while puree soups rely on a puree of the main ingredient for thickening. But in certain ways, the two soups are very similar. Some puree soups are finished with cream, and rice or potatoes may be used to help thicken the soup.
Typically thick types of soups are those that have been thickened by a thickening agent or by reduction. Some thick types of soup are cream based which give it a unique body.
Thickening all types of soup can be done by a roux, starch from potatoes or rice, reducing cream, or by producing a mother sauce such as a veloute and using it as a base.
The method in which to properly thicken types of soup differs from the thickening agent used. Using a roux will create a smooth, even texture and the roux is cooked along with the longer-simmering vegetables until the desired color has been reached and then the stock is slowly added, whisking constantly to avoid lumps until all liquid has been used. As the soup warms, it will thicken. More information on thickening agents here.
Classic Veloute Soups
- Veloute Agnes Sorel – Chicken veloute with mushrooms, julienne of mushrooms, white of chicken, ox tongue and liaison.
- Bagration-Maigre – Fish veloute flavored with mushrooms, julienne of sole, quenelles of white fish and crayfish, crayfish and liaison.
Creating a thick soup recipe is easy! Just follow these steps:
Thick Soup Recipe
- Create your roux with equal parts flour and fat; cook in a saucepan
- Add your vegetable or primary ingredient along with the roux
- Cook roux until you reach the desired color
- Slowly add stock to incorporate the roux
- Heat to thicken; season and serve!
Traditionally, cream soups were made with a thin bechamel. Veloute-based soups were finished with a liaison. Modern practice is to use a veloute base for cream soup and finish the soup with cream. The final strained product should have a smooth consistency similar to heavy cream and may have a puree of the flavoring vegetables incorporated or recognizable pieces of the predominant vegetable flavor cooked separately and added as a garnish. Use caution when preparing cream soups from leafy greens as they will discolor badly if overcooked.
There are two approaches for preparing cream soup. The first is to sweat the aromatics and identifying vegetables and then add a hot veloute and simmer to extract the flavors before straining. The second and more popular approach is to add flour to the sweated vegetables to make a white roux, then add hot stock and simmer to cook out the starch. The soup is strained and finished as desired. The cream or bechamel added to finish the soup must be heated before adding to maintain the temperature of the soup. If the soup is to be chilled, don’t add the cream yet as it shortens the shelf life of the soup.
Creating a cream-based soup is easy! Just follow these steps:
Cream-based Soup Recipe
- Sweat mirepoix with firm chopped vegetables of choice in butter or oil without browning.
- If using stock, add flour and cookout to a white roux stage before adding the hot stock. Or add the veloute and bring to a boil.
- Simmer to cook out the roux and flavoring vegetables, approx. 30 to 40 min. Skim as needed. If making a soup with leafy greens, add them in the last 10 minutes
- Strain the soup into a clean pot and puree the mirepoix (Blender, vertical chopper mixer, food processor or food mill) and flavoring vegetables, if returning to the soup.
- Bring the soup back to a simmer and add either the puree and/or blanched pieces of garnishing vegetables.
- Finish the soup with the hot cream or bechamel!
Classic Cream Soups
- Creme Dubarry – Cauliflower
- Creme de Celeri – Celery
- Creme de Tomates – Tomato
- Creme Solferino – Tomato & Potato
- Creme Portugaise – Tomato & Rice
- Creme Palestine – Artichoke
- Creme Soubise – White onion
- Creme de Poireaux – Leek
Pureed types of soup are often very hearty and full of flavor. They are healthy and include an impressive amount of vitamins and nutrition. The best explanation of puree types of soup is to cook starchy vegetables or legumes (Or both!) in a stock or broth, and then pureeing the ingredients.
It is always recommended when pureeing the ingredients to use a portion of the liquid and add it slowly to get the desired thickness. Pureed soups generally do not use additional starches, such as a whitewash or roux, to thicken further.
The idea is to use the appropriate amount of natural starches in the main ingredients to give you the thickening power. Once the soup is pureed, it can be seasoned to taste and served.
Soup making is a fundamental skill that is expounded upon as you get more experience in other areas of the kitchen.
Soups allow you to apply a lot of the basic cooking knowledge that you will leverage down the line for things such as sauces, thickening, sweating, browning, and the incorporation of roux.
Be passionate about all the different types of soup and become fluent in each type and it will reward you with delicious easy-to-make dishes and wisdom for later!
Traditionally, bisques were made from shellfish or game, and thickened with cooked rice and the pulverized shells or bones. Modern bisques are usually prepared using a combination of cream and puree soup methods without pulverizing the shells, but simmering for extended time periods. Roux is often the preferred thickener as it produces a smoother-textured end product without the graininess imparted by rice. The term bisque is sometimes used to describe pureed vegetable soups (Squash, for example).
Bisques are enriched with cream and may be mounted with butter for added richness. The garnish should be the diced flesh of the appropriate shellfish. There are many traditional recipes for bisques and the base ingredients differ widely.
Creating a bisque soup recipe is easy! Just follow these steps:
Bisque Soup Recipe
- Sweat the mirepoix and crustacean shells in butter
- Flambe with brandy (OK maybe not so easy! In lieu of a flambe, just reduce the brandy in a separate saucepan by half)
- Add tomato product, stock, wine, sachet, and rice. Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is soft.
- Pass the mixture through a food mill, discarding larger pieces of shell.
- Strain into a clean pot and return to a simmer. Adjust the consistency
- Finish with hot cream, mount with butter if desired and garnish with diced shellfish.
Although chowders are usually associated with the eastern seaboard, where fish and clams are plentiful, they are of French origin. Undoubtedly the word chowder is derived from the Breton phrase faire chaudiere. which means to make a fish stew in a cauldron. The procedure was probably brought to Nova Scotia by French settlers and later introduced into New England.
Chowders are hearty soups with chunks of the main ingredients (Almost always diced potatoes) and garnishes. With some exceptions (Notably Manhattan clam chowder), chowders are thickened with roux. The procedures for making chowders are similar to those for making cream soups except that chowders are not pureed and strained before the cream is added.
Creating a chowder soup recipe is easy! Just follow these steps:
- Render finely diced salt pork over medium heat.
- Sweat mirepoix in the rendered pork.
- Add flour to make a roux
- Add the liquid
- Add the seasoning and flavoring ingredients according to their cooking times.
- Simmer, skimming as needed
- Add milk or cream
Cold soups can be as simple as a chilled version of cream soup or as unique as a cold fruit soup blended with yogurt. Other than the fact that they are cold, cold soups are different difficult to classify because many of them use unique or combination preparation methods. Regardless, they are divided here into two categories: those that require cooking and those that do not.
Cooked Cold Soups
Many cold soups are simply chilled versions of hot soups. For example, Consomme Madrilene and Consomme Portugaise are prepared hot and served cold. Vichyssoise, probably the most popular of all cold soups, is a cold version of a puree of potato-leek soup. When serving a hot soup cold, there are several considerations:
- If the soup is to be creamed, add the cream at the last minute. This extends the soups shelf life.
- Cold soups should have a thinner consistency than hot soups. To achieve proper consistency, use less starch if starch is used as the thickener, or use a higher ratio of liquid to the main ingredient if it is to be pureed.
- Always serve cold soups as cold as possible.
Uncooked Cold Soups
Some cold soups are not cooked at all. Rather, they rely only on pureed fruits or vegetables for thickness, body, and flavor. A cold stock is sometimes used to adjust the soup’s consistency. Dairy products such as cream, sour cream or creme fraiche are sometimes added to enrich and flavor the soup. Because cold soups are never heated, enzymes and bacteria are not destroyed and the soup can spoil quickly. When preparing uncooked cold soups, always prepare small batches as close to serving time as possible!