This morning involved a trip to the dentist’s, so I’ve been thinking about soup. My friends have commented positively on my soups, but the truth is that I basically make them up as I go along, and rarely work to a recipe. I do have a technique though.
To make soup, you need:
Something oniony – onions, garlic, leeks etc.
Oil for frying (optional)
A tomato or two
Herbs/spices as appropriate
Something proteiny (optional)
Take your onion and fry it slowly in the oil. Olive oil is best in most cases. Onions are very good steam-fried, if you want to cut down on fat. Basically you cook your onions in a tiny amount of water over a high heat, replenishing the water as needed. Chop your vegetables up quite small and add them to the pot, starting with the one that takes longest to cook, and make sure they are well coated in the oil/water. Add any spices at the end of the frying, then add the stock/water and tomatoes. Bring your soup to the boil and simmer until everything is done. Blend. Or not. It’s your call. Remember not to add anything you’d rather not blend until after you’ve blended it!
If your soup contains potatoes, let them cook through before adding the tomato otherwise the potatoes will take all week to cook. Or leave the tomato out altogether.
Good proteins to add include tinned beans or lentils, and fried fake sausages/tempeh pieces. Rice, barley and pasta are traditional soup additions. Tofu tends not to work well in European-style soups.
Quantities depend on how many people you have to feed, and whether it’s the meal itself, or just one component. For a big meal soup for me, I use about 500ml (most of a pint glass) of liquid; for a starter, I’d halve that.
As an example of this in action, my post-dentist soup was curried butternut squash and carrot. It was a meal-sized soup for one. The “onions” were a small red onion, two cloves of garlic and a lump of ginger. The vegetables were two small carrots, about 5cm off one end of the butternut squash and a handful of frozen spinach. I added a tablespoon of hot curry paste (note this is Too Much for most people) at the end of the frying, which I did in sunflower oil rather than my usual olive. I blended the soup, due to necessity, but it would have been fine as was, and added a bit of coriander leaf at the end (frozen, Waitrose own-brand – very handy!).
Another staple is “green soup”, which is made from any green vegetable on which I can lay my hands. Green soya beans (generally obtained frozen – Realeat at health food shops, and various brands at Chinese supermarkets) are good in this.