Continental soup is an important part of the Continental or European cuisine. Continental cuisine is a collective term that refers to the cuisines of Europe as well as other Western countries. Also known as Western cuisine, continental cuisine is marked by extensive use of sauces, noodles, dairy products, seasonings, etc. European cuisine shows influence of various world cuisines, as Britain once colonized most part of the world. When the British came back from various lands, they brought the food culture with them and over the years, these influences got incorporated in Western cuisine as a whole.
Continental soups also show influences of various cultures and cuisines. While the preparation are mostly healthy and made with light ingredients, more indulgent versions of a European soup are also found. These soups are commonly served in eateries, cafes and restaurants and are also a common household preparation.
Soups have been a very essential part of the Continental cuisine since the middle ages, at least. These are eaten as an appetizer, main dish, part of a more elaborate lunch or dinner meal and even as a snack.
Common Ingredients Used in Preparation of Various Continental Soup Recipes
There are various types of continental soups and there are numerous recipes. While the ingredients mostly depend on the recipe being followed and personal preferences, some ingredients are common like broth, bouillon cubes, butter, oil, salt and pepper. When making a Continental soup, these ingredients are almost always used. Other additions are made based on the recipe's requirements. It is a very common practice to replace the ingredients in a particular recipe with the ones that are more easily available regionally.
There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties of European soups. All types of meats, vegetables, herbs, spices, seasonings and dairy products are used in one recipe or another. Beef, chicken, seafood, egg, lentils, cabbage, onion, tomato, asparagus, leek and cottage cheese, to name a few, are some of the most commonly used ingredients. Cheese is a popular topping and the soups are generally garnished with coriander or mint leaves prior to being served.
The popular European asparagus and leek soup, a very healthy preparation, is made from asparagus and leeks, while the more decadent cottage cheese soup is made with cottage cheese as the main ingredient. The crackpot chicken and corn soup is a slow cooked soup made from chicken and corn. Variations of this recipe include the entirely vegetarian version as well as the one that replaced chicken with seafood.
Preparation Overview of European Soups
A Continental soup is prepared much like most other soups of the world. European soups are usually a simply enough preparation and the time taken to make the soup can range from about 10 minutes to several hours. Traditionally, soups were slow cooked but modern chefs, in the interest of saving time, prefer to use modern kitchen equipment for faster cooking.
To make a soup, all the ingredients are first prepared as required (cleaned, chopped, diced, sliced, etc.) and then mixed together in a pot. The contents are then covered with water (mixed with bouillon cube) or stock. The soup is cooked till the desired level of doneness is achieved, topped with cheese or topping of choice, garnished and served.
Continental Soups Trivia
The Hungarian gulyás soup is probably one of the best known Continental preparations. There are, however, disputes over whether it should be considered a Continental soup or dish as many modern chefs prefer to regard stews and soups as different.