It’s starting to get dark earlier and there’s a nip in the air, so much so that I’ve had to get the electric blanket out of storage in preparation for chillier nights. The dark and cold may not be welcome, but the change in weather means one thing to us from a food perspective: soup season.
There’s always time for soup in this household, but the winter weather makes me want to sit down on the couch with a big bowl and a blanket to get all cosy. Soups are a budget-friendly way to eat healthily. Once you’ve made a few you’ll realise that making soup is actually really easy (sshh, don’t tell!). Use whatever you find in the local shops on special offer to make something which may seem boring, exotic, with the addition of a couple of herbs or spices.
Every vegetable can become soup; I’ve yet to find one that can’t be soupified. [Ed. We’re making that a word now, right?] From sweet potato to beetroot via cauliflower and broccoli, if you like the taste of a vegetable, make a soup from it.
For almost all soups, you will need a basic group of ingredients. These are stock – vegetable, chicken or ham – vegetables of your choice, plus oil and seasoning.
After this, think of what would add additional flavour – consider ingredients such as onion, garlic, leek, and celery. Celery creeps into most soups I make. Mark [one half of Foodie Explorers] hates the stuff, but when used in soups you don’t really taste it; instead, celery adds depth to the flavours of the other vegetables and provides that sought-after umami taste.
Once you have a base, think of ways to make the soup zing – which could be kidney beans, parmesan cheese, or sour cream.
No matter what kind you are making, cutting the vegetables into blocks about an inch across will enable the vegetables to cook evenly.
Start by sautéing the vegetables on a low heat, adding a tablespoon of olive oil to develop the favours and to soften them. Once the vegetables are starting to become tender, add your stock, and simmer until everything is cooked to your liking.
At this point, you can keep the soup chunky, or puree it until creamy. By pureeing a soup you can create a rich consistency without adding dairy.
Hint: sweet potatoes and squashes become thick and creamy when pureed.
Try this simple pumpkin soup as a great starting point in your world of soup discovery.
PUMPKIN, GINGER, AND APPLE SOUP (VEGAN)
There’s more to pumpkins than Halloween. Or, if you are sick of looking at pumpkins, try this with butternut squash. There’s no need for a soup pot if you have a food blender. Otherwise, get to it with an old-fashioned potato masher.
1 medium pumpkin
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°c, 180°c fan or gas mark 6.
Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the insides (the seeds can be roasted for nibbling later).
Roast the half-pumpkin cut side up for 20 minutes.
Flip over and roast cut side down for 20mins.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Remove flesh from the skin and place aside.
Slice the apple and onion into wedges.
Add to a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Roast for 20 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes add the whole garlic cloves to the apple and onion mix.
Add pumpkin, roasted onion, apple, coconut milk, ginger, cardamom and cayenne to a food blender (or pot, if you don’t have a blender, combining by hand with a potato masher).
Blitz until smooth.
Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
Garnish by sprinkling a few pumpkin seeds on top, and serve.
This article was first published in the October 2020 issue of SNACK magazine. You can read the full magazine below on your smartphone, tablet, or pc.
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