Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Soup and Gravy Mix (The 101)

I don't know any family that wouldn't enjoy a little warm soup on a busy holiday week. Especially a homemade soup in a personal packet of love from a good friend or family member.

Welcome to my kitchen...all decked out for Holiday soup and gravy mix making! We keep busy...but it's so fun! The first thing I do is get out my freeze dried goodie boxes. I have carrots, potatoes, celery, onions, tomato powder, MSG free bullion, bell peppers, mushrooms, TVP sausage, and instant milk. All of these I get from my favorite Preparing Wisely Store in Mesa.
The thickener I use is called thick-gel, also at Preparing Wisely, but you can also use flour or cornstarch if you don't have it. The advantage of using thick gel over cornstarch is that it will stay thick after freezing or boiling for a long time, where cornstarch will loosen up.

You will also need a good funnel. Bright red if you can find one. That will look really good in your pictures and make people smile when they read your blog. Admit just smiled right?
Most of my recipes are for pint or half pint jars, unless I specify otherwise. I pack the jars way up to the very tipper-top of mount Crumpet...then I smash it all down with the lid and I clamp it. See how I can rhyme too? No charge for awesomeness.

If I call for whole spices, like fennel seeds, it is because they will have a longer shelf life. If you use an oxygen eater packet in your jars, they should be shelf stable for 4-5 years or more! Isn't that awesome? Why? because there is no air in there and the jar is non-porous. It won't let in air.
I also use the funky-cool lids that are just freaky fun and coordinate the colors of the whole thing. I probably do this because I don't have daughters and I feel this incessant need to add ribbon and lace to something smaller than myself. Be warned...I'm not boppin' them on the heads of field mice...but little bunny fru-fru had it pretty close...cute little baby girls.
Or Mason jars...whichever I can wrangle down and get to hold still for five seconds.

For the fancy-schmancy boon-doggle bling-age, I found this cool self adhesive beaded ribbon stuff. It was, believe it or not, intended to be used on lamp shades. Now tell me ladies, why in the freak-fest would I put that cute stuff on a lamp shade that my boys will throw a soccer ball at and break anyway? No...better to put it on sad little jar ring that needs a little attention. friends will appreciate the jars far more than they will...a lamp shade. I swear I have the coolest friends ever.
I is also very important to your social standing to coordinate your bows and jars with the ones sitting next to it, so as to really impress your churchie friends. Okay...and really...I don't care. If someone thinks for one minute all my jars really look like this, they have not seen my "functional" food storage cabinets. Nope. Not all looking this swanky. Just the show pieces to be given away. For everyday (not Martha)...the jars are just plain with hand written cooking instructions scrawled across the top in sharpie. Feel that...that's all the pressure to be perfect...leaving. You do what you want. I'm not checking your cupboards.

Oh...and for dang sure, if I give away one of these gorgeous little love jars to a friend and a year later it is still on top of the kitchen cabinets as a "decoration"...I'll think they don't trust my cooking. So. There it is. I like it when people crack it open and feed it to the family.

Note: I don't have all the recipes up here yet. That will take me a few days to type, but know that they are coming...and rejoice.

How much do you pay for gravy mix and soup mix? It's so easy to make and so painfully cheap that once you see it, you will be shocked! It only takes a few minutes to make several of these mixes and from all the sauce and soup classes I have had, this is the one mix that people say they use the most. Home basic gravy is a great skill to have. I've seen a lot of money go down the drain for those store bought convenience foods like gravy mix. Why? Most of them have flat flavor, no frills. If you look at the ingredients list, it seems like it could be much shorter. Am I right? This mix I make is still loaded with good complex flavors, but it's also quick. It's a good marrying of basic meets a bit of gourmet. My gravy isn't super thick like pudding. It's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon nicely. If you want thicker gravy, you will need to double the flour. For the best complex flavor I add my all purpose seasoning in place of the pepper, thyme, and celery seed (there's a lot more spices and herbs in mine). I always use the bay leaf. It not only adds great flavor, but is a natural deterrent for bugs. Not that it will be sitting on the shelf that long. If you prefer to use prepared stock in place of the bullion, it will be awesome! I use flour because it is a sauce I can freeze well in casseroles. If you want a faster cooking gravy, use the recipe for quick cooking gravy.

Chef Tess Basic Gravy Mix

1/2 cup flour3T beef or chicken stock granules, MSG free ( can prepare with real stock)2T onion powder1T garlic powder (not granules or it will be too strong)1/2 tsp ground celery seed1/2 tsp black pepper1 tsp ground thyme1 bay leaf

Mix Directions: Place all ingredients in a half pint seal able jar. Repeat as needed however many mixes you want to make. Please note, this mix makes 8 cups of gravy.To prepare:Whisk mix with 2 cups milk or water (broth or stock if you omit the bullion), when smooth add 6 more cups of milk, water or stock. Simmer over medium heat stir occasionally 10-15 minutes.Smaller batches? 1/4 cup mix yields 2 cups gravy. Divide between 4 snack size baggies and provide 1 bay leaf per bag.

Individual smaller batches for gluten free quick cooking gravy:1T corn starch2 tsp bullion (MSG free)1T onion powder1 tsp garlic powder1/8 tsp ground celery1/4 tsp ground thyme1/8 tsp ground black pepper1 bay leaf

To prepare small batches:Whisk mix with 2 cups stock or milk in a medium sauce pan with a heavy bottom. Simmer over medium heat 5 minutes for corn starch sauces, 10-15 minutes if you use flour.
My Cream Basic soup mix:

1/2 cup flour (or for gluten free use 1/4 cup cornstarch or thick-gel)
2/3 cup instant milk powder
1 bay leaf
2T dehydrated onion,
1T freeze dried celery
1 tsp granulated garlic
1tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2tsp thyme
2T bullion (optional) (omit previous salt if you use bullion)

keep this mix in pint jars sealed and labeled for a quick dinner anytime of the year. This basic mix goes on the bottom of the jar. Then I top the rest of the jar to the rim with freeze dried veggies. They keep fresh up to 5 years (for best flavor) so please be sure to label and date clearly with an oxygen packet at the top of the jar.

To prepare, combine soup mix with 6 cups water (for a richer cream soup, use milk) and whisk until combined over medium heat. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Add any flavor variations you like...2 cups chopped broccoli or cauliflower, potatoes, corn, carrots, chicken, clams, crumbled bacon. If you want a cheese soup, be sure it gets added only at the very end after soup is off the heat or it will be grainy. This mix can also be used as a white sauce!

Have fun with this one! Also, if you want creamy tomato, you may add 1/4 cup cup of tomato powder, but be sure to also add 1tsp baking soda to keep it from curdling. Just a little tip.

Bonus Recipe:

Tess' Condensed Soup replacement1
/4 cup flour (or gluten free: 2 T cornstarch)1T chicken bullion granules (also available in low sodium and MSG free variety)1T dry onion flakes1 bay leaf1 tsp Chef Tess All purpose seasoning (or a Mrs. Dash of your choice.)

For cream of mushroom, add 2T crushed freeze dried mushrooms.

To prepare: Combine mix with 2 cups milk or broth whisking over medium heat. Heat until thick, about 10-15 minutes. For an extra rich creamy base, add 1/4 cup cream cheese at the end of cooking. Use one mix to replace one can of soup.

You may cook several batches at once and then freeze them in 2 cup measurements to replace a can of soup in most recipes. Cool well. If you use pint size freezer bags, they are perfect. Lay them flat when you freeze them and then they can stack very nicely. They will "curdle" a little when defrosted, but once boiled will return to that creamy texture (so it's fine to use them in recipes for casseroles and so forth.) Cornstarch will lose it's ability to thicken once frozen, so for gluten free, opt for Ultra gel or Thick gel for freezer sauces.

There you go.

1 comment:

mlebagley said...

How very timely! Can't wait for your other bottled soup mix recipes! Bring it on!