Use Olive Oil in Soups and Stews

From cold Gizpacho to chicken noodle, extra virgin olive oil is a healthy and delicious way to spice up bisques, broths, soups and stews.

By Paolo DeAndreis
Feb. 11, 2022 08:01 UTC
6K reads

High-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil is the key to the last­ing suc­cess of many tra­di­tional soups. The world’s health­i­est edi­ble fat also adds unique fla­vors to broths, stews and bisques.

In a soup, EVOO exerts a piv­otal role on the out­come. It does that in a very spe­cific way, which also depends on its ori­gin.- Paolo Cappuccio, Michelin-star chef

Be it a Portuguese bread soup with poached eggs, gar­lic and extra vir­gin olive oil, a rus­tic Italian wed­ding soup or a Greek chicken soup, they all ben­e­fit from EVOO – a pil­lar of the Mediterranean culi­nary tra­di­tion.

In prepa­ra­tion and for a fin­ish­ing touch

EVOO is the main ingre­di­ent for my recipes. As a fat that adds so much to a dish, you want to use it in the cor­rect quan­ti­ties, both when cook­ing and when adding its aro­matic touch to a soup,” said Luca Marchini, a chef at the Michelin-star L’Erba del Re restau­rant in Modena, Italy.

It trans­fers a healthy fat por­tion to the dish along with its unique herbal pro­file. That is what makes it such a sig­nif­i­cant ingre­di­ent in a soup and when sautéing veg­eta­bles or whisk­ing some pasta,” he added. It is the main ingre­di­ent both for tech­ni­cal use in the kitchen and for the gas­tro­nomic cul­ture it rep­re­sents.”

See Also:Olive Oil Basics

Be it a gourmet soup or a sim­ple veg­etable soup, many chefs and home cooks use extra vir­gin olive oil dur­ing the sautéing of the soup’s main ingre­di­ents. Meanwhile, oth­ers deploy it as a fin­ish­ing touch on more creamy and dense soups and stews, but less com­monly in a typ­i­cal soup.

If used in creams, where den­sity plays a cen­tral role, extra vir­gin olive oil stays longer on the palate,” Paolo Cappuccio, a well-known Neapolitan chef and Michelin-star holder, told Olive Oil Times. This means that the gus­ta­tory aspect is ampli­fied.”

There are coun­tries where cream or but­ter is used for soups and many other prepa­ra­tions, think for exam­ple, of France,” he added. In Italy, on the other hand, we can more eas­ily make impor­tant emul­sions with extra vir­gin olive oil.”

See Also:Cooking With Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Used to gen­tly sauté gar­lic or spices as a base for broth, add fla­vors and char­ac­ter to veg­eta­bles, or cook meat serv­ings, Marchini noted how a fin­ish­ing touch of EVOO will prob­a­bly not be used on his soups.

But that does not mean that it did not have a cen­tral role dur­ing the prepa­ra­tion,” he said.

Still, some chefs believe that EVOO as the final touch can bring more than just a tra­di­tional addi­tion to a soup.

Extra vir­gin olive oil in creams and soups, or as a final phase of the gar­nish, has aro­matic, olfac­tory and gus­ta­tory char­ac­ters. When used as a final touch to a hot soup, it releases its polyphe­nols,” Cappuccio said.

Which olive oil is best suited for a soup?

The best answer to this ques­tion is: it depends on the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the soup.

Extra vir­gin olive oils are renowned for their health ben­e­fits, but they boast a diverse array of fla­vor pro­files.

Their over­all char­ac­ter­is­tics might change accord­ing to the olive vari­eties trans­formed to make the oil. EVOO’s phe­no­lic iden­tity and fla­vor pro­file are also pro­foundly affected by the cli­mate, the soil, and how the trees are grown.


Zuppa Toscana

In a soup, EVOO exerts a piv­otal role on the out­come. It does that in a very spe­cific way, which also depends on its ori­gin. If it is a monocul­ti­var, for instance, or a blend,” Cappuccio said. Extra vir­gin olive oil comes in many dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties since the cul­ti­vars, and the ter­ri­to­ries where it comes from might be so dif­fer­ent.”

See Also:Pairing Extra Virgin Olive Oils with Fish and Meat Dishes

If we take Italy, there are stronger EVOOs, I think for instance to some EVOOs in south­ern Puglia, where the heat and the sun give olive dru­pes that intense fla­vor of arti­choke and ripened tomato,” he added. Or you can explore the excep­tional qual­i­ties of del­i­cate and light EVOOs, like those that come from the north­ern Garda lake area or Liguria.”

Most chefs would sug­gest not to use robust mono­va­ri­etal EVOOs on many veg­etable soups, as their fla­vor could eas­ily over­shadow the gen­tle notes of the veg­eta­bles.

However, Mediterranean-style soups based on veg­eta­bles and legumes might find in del­i­cate EVOO the per­fect ally, as it can add its healthy fat while lend­ing new value to a herbal pitch.

See Also:Use EVOO for Healthy and Delicious Baking

Still, there are plant-based prepa­ra­tions that can use more robust EVOOs. This hap­pens, for instance, with an inter­na­tion­ally renowned favorite among Spanish soups.


Andalusian Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a cold soup made of extra vir­gin olive oil, tomato, pep­per, vine­gar, gar­lic and salt. It comes from the south­ern autonomous com­mu­nity of Andalusia, the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region.

Andalusian Gazpacho was born as a sim­ple daily solu­tion for farm­ers work­ing in one of the hottest European regions. Today, it is served world­wide with an ever-grow­ing num­ber of vari­a­tions and addi­tions.

EVOO is fat that must be used in the right quan­ti­ties, pos­si­bly cold, avoid­ing prepa­ra­tions that can put its polyphe­nols and its many other unique ele­ments at risk,” Cappuccio said. It is an aro­matic, tra­di­tional ingre­di­ent, to be used mostly in small quan­ti­ties, I would say no more than 30 grams per serv­ing.”

EVOO soups beyond the tra­di­tion

EVOOs add unique fla­vors to tra­di­tional soups. They also help chefs give life to new prepa­ra­tions and soups, includ­ing Marchini’s unique take on the tra­di­tional ramen soup from Japan.

As the soup’s base, he used high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil and other raw mate­ri­als from the Italian cui­sine to import the famous Japanese soup and rein­vent it.


Soba noodles soup with vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, egg and sesame

Ramen is a con­cept of soup, part of the Japanese cul­ture that we all admire and like to explore,” Marchini said. Many love ramen, and I used the idea behind its prepa­ra­tion to trans­fer it to an Italian and regional cui­sine.”

See Also:Recipes with Olive Oil

In such a dish, where cab­bage is rem­i­nis­cent of the Japanese algae, Ramen noo­dles become very thin egg-based spaghetti. Garlic, rose­mary and tomato con­cen­trate form a broad base of fla­vors; a robust EVOO is required.

The broth, which becomes a highly con­cen­trated veg­etable broth, is made out of mal­lard bones which are pre­vi­ously com­pletely freed of fats,” Marchini said. The fat por­tion is then re-intro­duced in the soup thanks to mounted extra vir­gin olive oil, which has a unique herbal fla­vor. It becomes per­fectly scented veg­etable fat.”

That is why for this prepa­ra­tion, I need a robust Sicilian extra vir­gin olive oil, rich in notes such as tomato leaf, that allows me to empha­size the fla­vor,” he con­cluded.

Where to buy fresh extra vir­gin olive oil

Specialty food shops that deal directly with pro­duc­ers or importers are the best place to start when look­ing for fresh extra vir­gin olive oil.

The retail finder on the Official Guide to the World’s Best Olive Oils makes it easy to find award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oils near you or through online retail­ers.

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