Tools of the soup maker's trade: Dutch ovens
Every week, I make soup in this five-quart round Dutch oven that I found on super-sale last year at TJ Maxx, a discount clothing store that often has the most amazing deals on overstock or slightly hurt cookware. Made by Cuisinart, this beauty sold for less than half the price of the big-name enameled cast iron pots, and the slight ding in the finish on one handle brought the price down even more. The inside was in perfect condition, and, well, it's red.
A Dutch oven is a heavy, thick-walled pot, usually made of cast iron, with a tight-fitting lid. Designed originally for campfire cooking, it retains heat and moisture for low-and-slow cooking. The enameled cast iron pots made by Le Creuset and Staub are extremely expensive, but other brands, like Cuisinart and Mario Batali, are more affordable ($100 or so for a pot that will last a lifetime). If you're looking for one pot in an all-purpose size, consider a five-quart round or oval.
I don't use this pot to make stock; it's not large enough for a big batch, and I prefer my slow cooker for smaller batches so I don't have to tend the pot. For soup, though, this Dutch oven is perfect, as it will produce recipes for 4-8 servings.
And -- I might be wrong about this, but I don't think so -- my soup pot holds a little bit of the goodness of every soup I've ever made in it, bringing additional good soup karma to everything cooked in the pot.
Do you have a favorite soup pot?