04 Jan A no recipe soup recipe…
Wait just a minute. Alex, how can a soup have a recipe, yet at the same time, not have one. Thanks for asking, well my answer to that would simply be, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? …Though I have always thought with that, that of course a noise is made, the noise is just not heard.
But anyway, I’m sure you’re not here to read my ill researched faux philosophical ramblings, you are here for soup. Well, as I say, this is a no recipe recipe. I don’t have strict soupy guidelines for you to follow as such, but rather the basis, an outline of a really cracking soup. Imparting a few of my tips and tricks to add extra flavour and excitement to the humble soup. From this you will have the building blocks to freestyle and add your own twists, flavour combinations and ingredients. Even my Grandma, whose house I haven’t been to without being greeted by a steaming bowl of soup gave it the thumbs up, “this is really nice Al”.
- Firstly, you want to decide on your combination of vegetables. Always start by sweating down a mirepoix (that’s your celery, onions, leeks and carrots), adding salt and garlic half way through this sweating process so that you are seasoning at each stage. From here though, you can get creative with your veg. Choose one or two main vegetables, such as butternut squash and or cauliflower, and use in a slightly higher ratio to the other vegetables you will be using; this way the soup will retain the predominant flavour of say squash, that you are after.
- The next step does contribute a little extra kerfuffle and washing up to the process, but adds an added dimension to the soup. This involves roasting your main ingredients; this helps to bring out added flavour in your main vegetables. Roast your chunks of veg in a spice mix of your choice, for example, you may want a middle eastern roasted butternut squash and cauliflower soup, in which you may roast the eponymous vegetables with a sprinkling of ras el hanout, a touch of paprika and some mixed spice. Soup is pretty forgiving I find, so you can always water down or add to the flavour when it comes to pureeing. Be careful, particularly with vegetables that break up like the cauliflower, as smaller bits will burn and won’t be the most welcome of additions.
- In the meantime heat up your stock. Pouches of vegetable stock I find far superior to stock cubes. In goes some ‘filler’ vegetables to your now sweated down mirepoix; any spare potatoes you may have, a turnip that’s been sitting on the side for as long as you can remember. For something a little different, I sometimes add a courgette or two. When these filler beg start to soften, add in your roasted vegetables.
Things got a little steamy in the kitchen, hence the, well, the steam clouding this photo.
- The addition of stock will determine the thickness of your soup. I want to be able to plaster my walls with my soup, well not quite, but you get the idea, so therefore play it a little conservative with how much stock I decide to put in… you could say I’m a low risk stockbroker (anyone, no. Fine.). I find covering around 4/5 of the vegetables with stock produces the viscosity i’m after. But always keep a little stock handy, as when it comes to pureeing it enables you to loosen up the soup to your preferred thickness should you need to.
- Cook until you can mash the vegetables to the side of the pan. Puree well and taste for seasoning. I wanted to accentuate the sweetness of squash in the latest soup I made, so added a little maple here, which I personally think worked a treat.
So there we have it, the blueprint to “the best soup” my brother’s ever eaten… what a ringing endorsement..!
It’s hard to make soup look like anything other than pureed vegetables…
I will hopefully and finally perfect a healthy apple crumble recipe I’ve been working on this week, so will have that with you soonish.
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And I would love to hear your own vegetable combinations and spice mix ideas for your own soups.
Thanks for stopping by (or should that be souping by… yee, I’ll go now)