publication date: Sep 6, 2011
author/source: Fiona Beckett
I was going to write about grills and salads this week but given the weather it seems more appropriate to tell you how to make homemade soup which tastes much better and is far cheaper than most of the ready-made soups you can buy.
There are two ways to go about it - to make a chunky soup like an Italian minestrone or a smooth soup which you’ll need to blitz with a blender or food processor. The first is more satisfying if you’re looking for a main course meal, the second, which I’ll focus on tomorrow, is better for a light lunch or starter. (You also need to choose your veg more carefully or the soup may end up an unappealing sludge colour)
Almost all soups benefit from a base of onions or leeks to add a savoury note. Just chop them and cook them slowly in oil and/or butter in a covered pan together with any other flavouring veg you’re using until they begin to soften. (By flavouring veg I mean vegetables like carrots and celery.) You could also add a pinch of fresh or dried thyme and/or fry some chopped up bacon with the onions.
Then add any other veg you want to use like tomatoes, green beans or courgettes, pour in enough hot chicken or vegetable stock to cover, bring the soup to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. You can add a drained, rinsed can of beans or cook a handful of small pasta shapes in the stock if you want to make your soup more substantial.
Soup can be a receptacle for all sorts of odds and ends you have lying around but don't overdo it. Seven or eight different veg don't necessarily taste better than two or three. Remember that root veg like carrots tend to take longer to cook than green veg like peas or beans or summery veg like sweetcorn, courgettes or peppers so add them first.
The quality of the stock you use is also important. If I don’t have any home-made stock I use Marigold vegetable bouillon powder which has a natural taste and is not too salty. You can buy it in big supermarkets and in health food shops.
Finally stir in some chopped fresh parsley or finely shredded spinach or cabbage leaves at the end of the cooking period to make your soup look more colourful and/or sprinkle over some freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese.
For a specific recipe click on one of the soups below or check out the Student Recipe Finder