Soup Making – a few tips before starting. For those seasoned (sorry, no pun intended) soup makers, you can skip this section !! I have no wish to patronise you !!! Soup making is EASY and recipes do not need to be slavishly followed to the letter. You can be inventive if you follow some sensible guidelines You can mix and match according to the ingredients you have to hand To puree or not to puree – that is a matter of individual preference. If you like ‘lumpy’ soup, then you will need to be a little more careful in your preparation -ingredients will need to be cut into small bite sized pieces. If you prefer a smooth soup, then so long as you have a blender (could be an electric stick blender or food processor) you can rough chop your ingredients into slices or cubes because no-one is going to see how neat you have been!! I prefer my soups pureed. I think that you get a fuller overall flavour but that is entirely up to you. An easy way to make your soup more substantial is to include a few red lentils or a chopped up potato (or both) which will thicken and, in the case of lentils, nourish the soup during cooking I have found tomato passata a really useful ingredient to have in the cupboard. It comes in either bottles or cartons and is a smooth sauce. It is not expensive although timed tomatoes are probably cheaper, but you simply add to give flavour and colour to full bodied soups with no ‘bits’ to deal with!! Make enough soup to freeze for a future easy lunch.. If you are going to make enough soup to freeze then if it is too thick when pureed, do not thin down at this stage. It will take up less freezer space and it is easy to thin down when you are ready to thaw and eat. The golden rule that herbs and spices should never be mixed when seasoning soups and casseroles is a bit of a myth for me.!! The seasoning of a soup is when it really comes into its own and requires regular tasting to get it just right . Build up the flavour gradually a bit at a time. You can’t remove it once its added!!!!!’For some delicately flavoured soups such as leek and potato soup or cream of mushroom or broccoli and stilton then I would only use a smattering of herbs, but for full bodied soups particularly those with a tomato base then you can really mix your seasonings. A ‘secret’ ingredient I am fond of using to liven up the flavour of a hearty soup is ground cumin (ah well its now an open secret!!) Not a lot is needed to just give a bit of a lift. Another spice mix which I have taken to using in many of my soups is Schwartz Moroccan Seasoning. A little is all that is needed. Tomato based soups benefit from a little sugar to counter acidity Just a few ideas if you are new to soup making.! You will each have your own favourites, or if you are new to soup making, you will discover what suits you best. Be inventive!! Allow approx. ½ pt ( 300mls) per generous portion Now for some recipes which have proved popular at previous Lent lunches.
Vegetable Soup (for 4-6 portions) Probably the most versatile soup because you can vary quantities according to what vegetables you have to hand Basic Recipe 2 onions – peeled and chopped or sliced 2 cloves garlic crushed or chopped or ½ teaspoon of dried garlic granules 1lb/500 gms chopped mixed root vegetable (eg carrots, swede, parsnip) 1 medium potato chopped 4 stalks of celery chopped Tablespoon red lentils Bottle of tomato passata (optional) or 2 tins tomato Vegetable or chicken stock cube dissolved in 1litre boiling water (or homemade stock) Seasoning to taste –e.g salt, pepper, mixed herbs (1/2 teaspoon) , a good splash of Worcestershire Sauce, pinch cumin, shake of Moroccan seasoning, etc!!!! Method
Lightly brown the onion and garlic in a large saucepan with a little vegetable oil.
Add all the vegetables and continue to lightly stir for 5 minutes
Add lentils, tomato, and stock
Season lightly to begin and then bit by bit during cooking
Simmer with lid on for about 1 hour
Blend and adjust thickening with water or milk and finish with a swirl of cream (optional!!) Or simply serve as lumpy soup!!
Broccoli and Stilton Soup (4 portions) (one of the most popular at Lent lunches!) Recipe 2 heads of Broccoli (or you could use frozen broccoli florets ) I medium potato 4ozs /130 gms Stilton 1 litre water I vegetable or chicken stock cube (or home made stock) Salt and pepper Method
Break up broccoli into florets and chop stalks (remove the end piece)
Peel and slice potato
Place in a large saucepan and pour on 1 litre of boiling water.
Sprinkle in stock cube and season with pepper and a little salt (stilton is quite salty)
Simmer for 15 minutes
Crumble in Stilton, stir for 5 mins allowing cheese to melt
Thin if necessary with milk and serve with a little cream
Tomato, red pepper and lentil soup Serves 6 N.B. I have made this soup many times, and in the beginning I dutifully roasted the peppers to improve flavour. However, always on the look -out for simplifying recipes, I have found that the difference between roasting and not roasting the peppers is negligible. The skill is in seasoning the soup to taste. If too bland below, then experiment with a little more spices or with some alternative spices. A little sugar is always recommended when using a base of tomatoes as it offsets acidity. Good luck! Recipe 3 red peppers (deseeded and sliced) 2 onions – sliced 2 cloves of garlic crushed 120 gms red lentils (4 ozs) 1 Bottle or carton of tomato Passata or 2 tins of tomatoes 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1litre boiling water (1 ¾ pints) ½ tsp paprika pepper ½ tsp cumin ½ tsp Moroccan Seasoning (optional but nice!) 2 tsp sugar Salt to taste Method Lightly saute the onions and garlic in vegetable oil for 5 mins Add the peppers and sauté for a further 5 mins. Stir in the lentils Pour in the Passata or tomatoes Add the water with dissolved stock cube Add seasonings and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for approx.1 hour to allow lentils to fully soften, tasting regularly and adjusting seasoning to taste Blend and adjust consistency with a little milk and/or cream if necessary.
Cream of Mushroom Soup (Serves 4) Recipe 300gm punnet mushrooms chopped finely 1 onion finely chopped ½ litre water (¾ pt ) ½ litre milk (¾ pt) 1 chicken or veg stock cube 40 gms butter or margarine (1½ oz) 40gms Plain Flour (1½ ozs) 125 mls cream (¼ pt) to finish Salt and Pepper to taste. Method
Dissolve the stock cube in the water.
Lightly sauté onions and mushrooms in the butter or margarine for 2 mins
Stir in the flour
Add the stock gradually stirring well.
Add the milk
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Simmer gently for approx. 20 mins, stirring occasionally
Blend or leave as it is and stir in cream when ready to serve reheating gently if necessary.
Leek and Potato Soup (serves 4 ) Freezes well but best to add cream when thawed and ready to heat up Recipe 500gms (1lb) leeks 500gms (1lb) potatoes 1 onion 1.2 litres ( 2pts) water 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube Salt and pepper 125mls ( ¼ pt) cream Method
Cut off and discard a little of the dark green leaf
Wash leeks to remove any soil caught in the green end of the leeks and then slice
Peel potatoes and slice
Peel onion and slice
Heat I tablespoon of oil in saucepan and add all the above and gently sauté for a couple of minutes without colouring.