Tools of the soup maker's trade: immersion blenders
Anyone can make soup. You don't need special skills or special equipment. A stove, a pot, a knife, a spoon, a recipe... and, sometimes, the type of fearlessness that lets you empty the contents of your refrigerator into a giant pot with absolute faith that the result will be soup. That's it. You can make soup with nothing more. And yet, I recommend one more item for the batterie de cuisine of any dedicated soup maker. An immersion blender (also known as a stick blender, hand blender or, as Alton Brown calls it, a boat motor) is a small appliance designed to chop or purée food in the pot or bowl in which it's prepared. In other words, no more transferring soup in batches to your stand blender. You can do all the work right in your stock pot.
I've had my Cuisinart immersion blender for more than 15 years, and it's as perky as the day I bought it. The very first soup I made was gazpacho, blended to the perfect texture in a large mixing bowl. This week I used the immersion blender for a big batch of asparagus soup. It can chop ice for cocktails, froth a latte and whip a smoothie, too.
Immersion blenders range from less than $20 to more than $100. An investment of $35-45 will buy a good quality, sturdy kitchen tool that can handle any soup you want to make. Look for one with variable speeds and settings for different tasks.
Have you used an immersion blender? Do you love it?