I've been messing around with soups for the last couple of Winters, but this year I really kind of dug in and have made some fairly epic soups. It all started with a recipe for tomato soup that Pixie from work gave me (that's it in the top right of the photo with all the cheese)... it was the first time I'd ever made a soup that required a blender at the end, and it was something of a revelation. I often find the diced vegetables in soup a little boring, the broth is always great, but the little cubes of disappointment can lack any real flavour... not so with blended soups.
That's not to say I haven't had my disasters, both blended and not. French Onion and roasted beetroot soup were recipes that went straight into the recycling once I'd tasted the soups. I mean, French Onion soup is essentially a big bowl of onions. And yes, I know the name should have given that away, and I don't really know what the hell I was expecting, but it wasn't the boring, beefy onionness. And the beetroot just tasted roughly like eating dirt. Thick, claggy purple dirt. Again, I think I was expecting a result more like the sweeter and cleaner taste of tinned beetroot... definitely not what I got. Oh, and carrot soup... I don't really like carrots that much at the best of times, but somehow I expected the carrot and honey soup to improve the flavour. Plus it came out very, very thin.
And I'm still looking for that perfect chicken soup recipe... I've tried a variety of ideas, and while some of them have worked, and others have partially worked, I haven't found that one perfect idea. Although what I have discovered is I much prefer shredded chicken than pieces of chicken... and adding more than a small palm full of pasta will result in noodle stew.
But I've essentially got it down to a fine art, albeit with the occasional misfire. It essentially comes down to a fairly simple formula...
- Select vegetable (or vegetables) of choice and chop/dice into small pieces
- Pick at least one member of the onion family (brown, white, red, spring onion, leek) and do likewise
- Add onion, garlic and chili and stir until onion is soft
- Add all other hard vegetables and stir over heat for about five minutes
- Cover in stock
- Bring to boil
- Simmer for about twenty minutes or until veg is tender
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Blend as appropriate
Oh, and as with all things, bacon makes anything better... so I tend to add more bacon than the recipes have called for.
But here are a couple of real live actual recipes... which I've since been adapting and augmenting... and remember that often times I doubled the recipes so that I had enough soup for a whole week's worth of lunches.
(originally from Taste.com.au)
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300g Sebago potatoes, peeled and chopped
600g tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 litre chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
4 rashers bacon
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for three minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the tomatoes and potato, then the tomato paste. Cook for one minute.
Add stock. Season with pepper and a pinch of dried basil. Cover. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potato is tender. Set aside for five minutes to cool slightly.
Add fresh basil. Blend until smooth.
Pea and Prosciutto Soup
(originally from Taste.com.au)
1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.25 litres vegetable stock
5 cups frozen peas
125g light sour cream
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Coarsely chop the prosciutto and add to the pan.
Add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring, for three minutes or until soft. Add the stock. Bring to the boil. Add the peas and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until just cooked. Set aside for five minutes to cool slightly.
Blend until smooth.
Cook the soup over medium heat for two minutes or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Top with sour cream.
Moroccan Pumpkin Soup
1 medium onion, diced
1kg pumpkin, peeled and diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 litre Campbell's Real Soup Base - Moroccan
Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan. Add onion and cook for one minute. Add the pumpkin, potato and stock.
Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin and potato soften.
Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Potato, Bacon and Leek Soup
(originally from BBC Good Food)
8 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
2 brown onions, chopped
4 trimmed leeks, sliced and well washed
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 litres hot vegetable stock
300ml cooking cream
Melt the butter in a large pan, then fry the bacon and onion, stirring until they start to turn golden.
Tip in the leeks and potatoes and stir well. Cover and turn down the heat. Cook gently for five minutes.
Pour in the stock, season well and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Leave to cool for a few minutes, then blend until smooth. Return to the pan, pour in the cream and stir well.
Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Mushroom and Bacon Soup
(originally from Campbell's Kitchen)
1 onion, diced
500g mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 litre Campbell's Real Soup Base – Italian
sour cream or thickened cream and chives to garnish
Cook bacon in a medium greased frying pan for five minutes until browned and crisp.
Melt butter in same pan. Add onion and mushrooms. Cook for five minutes until softened. Add the flour. Cook for one minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan.
Gradually add stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes.
Blend soup until smooth. Top with sour cream and chives.
Useful soup related links