21 Helpful Tips for making Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
Sandwiches save us from having to cook a meal on those really hot days. Soups are perfect for just about any time and freeze really well so they can be made in large batches. Salads are enjoyed by everyone year round and are actually perfect meal replacements in a bowl.
Here are some helpful tips to keep your soups, salads and sandwiches turning out perfectly!
1. With soup, it is easy to “Cook Once, Eat Twice” (or three times!). Soup is the perfect freezer food, which means leftovers won’t go to waste. Soup will keep in the freezer for a couple months, so don’t hesitate to whip up extra large batches to enjoy now – and later.
2. Freeze leftover soup in muffin tins for easy-to-transport single-serve lunch portions.
3. Allow soup to cool overnight in the refrigerator before freezing. Putting hot soup into your freezer can briefly increase the internal temperature of your freezer, which could negatively impact your already frozen items.
4. Don’t add cold milk or cream straight from the refrigerator to your soups while cooking. To prevent curdling, warm the milk and cream up before adding to the simmering soup.
5. Mirepoix is a combination of diced carrots, celery and onion used to add flavor to soups, stocks and broths. The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they will release their flavor.
6. When making soup, “sweat” aromatics, like onions or garlic, first. Simply sauté these ingredients in a little olive oil or butter until they are soft. This will release their flavors and enhance the final taste of your recipe.
7. Give your soup a chance to cool a bit before adding final seasoning. When soup is boiling hot, it is difficult to tell whether or not it actually needs more salt or other seasonings.
8. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to broth-based soups before serving to “brighten” up the flavors. Citrus has a natural fresh taste to it that will liven up the other flavors in your soup.
9. Save time cleaning up by making your salad dressing in the same bowl you plan to serve your salad in. Mix up your dressing ingredients and let them sit for a while to give the flavors a chance to meld. Then add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to coat right before serving. If you make more dressing than you need for one salad, simply pour off the excess into another storage container before adding your salad ingredients.
10. When making homemade vinaigrettes, add a little Dijon mustard or mayonnaise to emulsify the mixture. This will help hold together the oil and vinegar (or other acidic components) longer.
11. No one likes a soggy salad. Don’t add dressing until right before you serve it to keep your lettuce crisp.
12. It’s important to thoroughly wash lettuce before eating it, but it can be challenging to get it dry enough to hold your dressing. If you eat a lot of salad, a salad spinner is definitely worth the investment.
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13. If you need to take your salad on the go, but dread soggy, wilted lettuce – try layering your ingredients. A good rule of thumb is to always put dressing on the bottom (or in another container), followed by “tougher” ingredients like carrots and celery. Next up, add proteins like chicken breast or sliced eggs and then top with delicate lettuce or spinach leaves.
14. Have extra tomatoes from your summer garden? Wash, chop and freeze them! Previously frozen tomatoes are too mealy to enjoy raw, but they are perfect for soups, chili and stews.
15. Don’t buy previously grated Parmesan cheese in a can. A nice wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano isn’t overly expensive and will last you a long time. Plus, it won’t have a bunch of preservatives and anti-caking ingredients added to it. An inexpensive microplane* is perfect for grating over soups or salads and makes for a nice presentation when serving guests.
16. There are many reasons to buy wedges of hard cheeses, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Asiago cheese, instead of the pre-grated stuff. For example, hard cheese looks beautiful – and tastes amazing – when cut with a vegetable peeler into ribbons and placed on top of soups and salads. An added bonus is the larger chunks impart a more recognizable flavor to your dish.
17. Always save the rind from hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano to add to the pot or slow cooker when making soups. That delicious salty cheesy goodness will soften and infuse your creation with a wonderful new layer of flavor.
18. Plain, old sandwiches can get boring really fast. Introducing an unexpected flavor to your favorite combinations is an easy way to liven things up a bit. Instead of mayo or mustard, try a creamy avocado spread, spicy jalapeno jelly or sweet fig jam. The options are nearly endless.
19. Grilled Panini sandwiches are a great cure for the common cold sandwich. You can pick up a highly rated Panini press sandwich maker for around $25 on Amazon – or you can use a grill pan and place a cast iron skillet on top of your sandwich for even heating (and those gorgeous grill marks).
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20. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy sandwiches, because who wants to be stuck in the kitchen making complicated meals on a hot summer day? Plus, it’s tough to beat the taste of in-season veggies, like tomatoes warm off the vine and crispy lettuce straight from the garden. They create the perfect foundation for whatever meat, cheese, veggie, and condiment combination you put together.
21. One trick to instantly up the ante on your sandwich creation? Heat the protein before assembling your ingredients. Heating up your chicken, ham, sliced beef or even tofu will add another delicious dimension to your sandwich.
More Great Fresh Soup Recipes!
Warm Italian Panini Sandwich
A classic Italian sub sandwich normally features a mixture of cured meats, such as salami, pepperoni or ham, and provolone cheese on an Italian-style roll. Onions, tomatoes, and crispy lettuce topped with copious amounts of Italian dressing are also standard.
This version is similar, except it is on a super soft artisanal white bread without the dressing and it is served warm. If you don’t have a dedicated Panini press at home – no problem. You can achieve similar results with a more versatile grill pan and a heavy cast iron skillet.
Yields 2 sandwiches
½ small red onion, sliced thin
4 slices thick-cut artisanal white bread
2 T. melted butter, unsalted
2 Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried, tough ribs at bottom removed
1 tomato, washed, dried and sliced
4 oz. hard salami
4 oz. Italian deli ham
2 oz. pepperoni
4 oz. sliced provolone cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
For best results, soak the red onion slices in water for at least half an hour to soften before serving. This will also yield a milder flavor. Remove onion from water, pat dry and set aside.
Butter one side of all four bread slices. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat and add 2 slices of bread, buttered side down. (If the pan is not cast iron, spray with non-stick spray first). Add lettuce, tomato, red onion, salami, ham, pepperoni and provolone cheese on top of the bread slices in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Top assembled sandwiches with remaining 2 bread slices, buttered side up.
With a spatula or a heavy, very clean cast iron skillet, apply even pressure to the top of the assembled sandwiches. This will ensure even contact with the hot grill pan below, which will create even grill marks and help heat the interior of the sandwich more thoroughly.
When the bread on the bottom is golden brown, carefully flip each sandwich and repeat until the other slice of bread is also evenly browned. Serve immediately with a dill pickle spear and your favorite chips.