SOUPSONG HAS GONE HARDCOPY!
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Soups, as a rule, are so forgiving that they are practically on their fluxile knees begging you to be creative and to use what you have on hand. Indeed, many unforgettable creations evolve through substitutions--and many of us have "made do" with ingredients that, to our eventual dismay, created a sensation we could never duplicate.
Within the bounds of common sense, you can switch stocks and meats within recipes. Vegetable and chicken stocks are a good foundation for most anything, while fish stocks should probably never be used with the flesh of a land animal.
In a pinch, you can use vegetable waters from last night's green beans or potatoes--or water with big glugs of wine in it--or just plain water.
Vegetables--unless they are strongly flavored and would overtake the taste of other ingredients--can be easily interchanged, or just left out.
Herb substitutions should be handled with a light hand. Mint instead of tarragon might be just awful. But parsley or celery leaves will always add the color you want and complement, rather than clash with the final product.
Oils, butter, lard, chicken fat, drippings, and bacon fat can at least be considered as substitutions for each other in the preliminary stages of sauteeing, but they can certainly change the seeming character or nationality of a dish.
Sometimes, though, you just plain don't have critical elements for what you want to do. In that case, I offer the following substitutions for you to consider: