The Simple Pleasures Of Soup
Soup can be made from more or less anything whatever the season wherever you live and for those of us living where winter has already reminded us just how cold it’s going to get, soup is a restorative hot and nourishing meal, ready in minutes and still spreading warm cheer hours later.
Broths are wholesome and sustaining, usually made with cheaper cuts of meat which need long slow cooking, chowders are much the same in terms of nourishment – the make a substantial supper.
Cream soups which are probably my own favorite are delicious made from any combination of vegetables and even fruits, they are then pureed and a little cream added to finish them off, with a swirl of cream to serve – yummy.
You don’t need expensive or complicated kitchen gadgets either – you can make great homemade soup with the following basic gear:
- High quality liquid concentrated stock or very good commercial stock cubes
- Good biggish pan depending on how many you’re feeding and spoon to stir and serve
- Sharp cooks knife and vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer if you have one
- Blender, hand blender or even a smoothie maker
- Chopping board
The stock is important as it forms the base for whatever you put in it, drawing out and blending the flavors – so don’t skimp if you can avoid it. I make vegetable stock with a fruit and veggie steamer, but that’s not practical for everyone, so if you don’t make your own buy the best you can and the lowest in salt – cubes are usually the worst.
Try the following winter warmers and soothers – remember you can switch vegetables and flavors, any soup recipe is only ever a guide and you should feel free to experiment by using what you have that’s in season right now.
Wholesome Vegetable Broth
Use whatever vegetables you have, great additions to this soup are celery and you can toss in a handful of red lentils for added volume and flavor – the pot of soup pictures has a little Black Tuscany Kale shredded into it, because it’s what we had available.
- Butter for Frying
- 3 – 4 Medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 medium leeks washed and sliced
- 3 medium sized potatoes – peeled and sliced or diced into chunks
- 2 pints good chicken stock or vegetable if vegetarian
- Salt to taste – depending on stock
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A little milk or cream if feeling indulgent
Finish with chopped parsley or crispy croutons and serve with fresh warm bread
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the vegetables, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the stock and seasoning except the salt – leave the salt until nearly ready to serve.
Stir well and bring to the boil, lower the heat and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Blend to a smooth paste with a hand blender or work through a sieve. The soup should be about the thickness of thick pouring cream, stir in a little milk if too thick. Return to the pan and reheat while checking the seasoning – salt now if needed.
Easy Classic Tomato Soup
- 1 tblsp olive oil
- 2lb ripe tomatoes, halved
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 small potato, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 pint water
- 1 tsp sugar
Lightly oil a roasting tin. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side uppermost in the roasting tin. Add the garlic cloves. Season and drizzle over the remaining oil. Roast in the oven at 190°C for 20-30 minutes.
Boil the potato in 1/2 pint of water until tender. Don’t drain the water away – it’s now your stock.
Skin the tomatoes and the garlic and put the tomato pulp and garlic into a food processor or blender with the cooked potato and potato stock and blend until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan. Add a little extra vegetable stock or water if the soup is too thick.
Stir in the sugar and serve – if you’re feeling very indulgent, stir in a tablespoon of thick pouring cream and you have heavenly cream of tomato – truly a feast.
If neither of these tickle your taste-buds, I came across a great site with several good wholesome recipes – a site aimed at helping students who are away from home for the first time, there’s some really easy and nourishing recipes over at http://studentrecipes.com/recipes/soup/
If soup isn’t what you’re after, you might find some inspiration for your dinner ideas tonight here – check out the post because there’s links to other great foodie sites and I promise you’ll find something yummy you really fancy on at least one of them.
When you make vegetable soups if time is short, use the julienne blade on a mandoline slicer to give you very small strips, then chop once or twice – the smaller pieces will cook in a few minutes. In terms of speed and efficiency, a good mandoline slicer like the Bron or Swissmar is invaluable and probably the one bit of kitchen kit I’d be absolutely lost without.