Never settle for canned soup
Winter means soup. Soup ticks all the boxes for the colder months: it's hearty, hot, simple and cheap.
What more could you want?
The first rule of soup is, never settle for canned soup. Honestly, I mean never.
I am all for convenience foods. I don't get about beating my drum and harping on about making everything from scratch. It's a nice goal to have, but we are all a bit time-poor for elaborate weeknight meals.
However, when it comes to soup, there's no excuse.
I'll be the first one to tell you if something is hard - I promise. Soup is easy.
The second rule of soup is always use a stick blender. Food processors are great (albeit a huge pain in the backside to clean), but they're a recipe for disaster. You're no chef until you've spent the best part of an hour scraping boiling hot partially pureed vegetables off your kitchen walls. Stick blenders are perfect for people (like me) who shouldn't be left alone with anything motorised. [They cost about $20-$30 from Briscoes/The Warehouse]
Finally, when in doubt, roast. Roasting adds to the flavour. Always season liberally.
I used to spend hours making complicated ''gourmet'' soup. So much effort and time wasted when keeping it simple is not only more efficient, it tastes just as good. Don't spend money on expensive ingredients.
It's soup. Keep perspective.
Below is a tried and true recipe for soup that anyone can do. Anyone. Even you. Trust me.
You can swap around the main ingredients for any replacement vege - kumara, pumpkin, butternut, parsnip, etc are all interchangeable. Just use what's on special or in your fridge - keep it cheap.
This soup takes about 1 hour total, and you aren't needed the whole time. So get it going when you get home then go and take a shower or something while it works its soupy magic. No fuss.
(All measurements are approximate. It's soup, not science.)
|Half a pumpkin (or 3 golden kumara)|
|1 potato (any kind)|
|2 brown onions|
|1 tsp crushed garlic|
|1 tsp Mixed Herbs (comes in a box in the seasoning aisle)|
|Half a glass of dirt cheap white wine (optional)|
|3 (ish) cups of chicken or vegetable stock|
The trick to keeping this simple is to pre-cut all your ingredients so you can just breeze in and out of the kitchen adding things to the pot.
1. Cut up pumpkin into golf ball-sized chunks, leave skin on. Cut carrots into 1cm rounds. Don't bother peeling. Cut potato into pieces roughly the same size as the carrot pieces.
2. Roughly dice the onions. Boil water and make your stock in a jug, ready to go.
3. Coat your pumpkin in olive oil and salt and roast at 180C for 25 minutes. While that's cooking, cook onions in a heavy bottom or cast iron pot. Cook them nice and slow. When they're soft and beginning to brown, add the garlic and the herbs. Let these cook for a couple of minutes, then crank the heat up to high and toss in the wine. This will deglaze the pan, lifting all the flavours off the bottom. No wine? Use water.
4. Get the pumpkin out of the oven and use tongs to quickly peel the skin off. It should just fall off.
5. Put pumpkin, potato and carrot into the pot, reduce heat to low, and pour over the stock. The stock should just cover the vegetables, so use more or less as required.
6. Simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from heat (leave it in pot) and use a stick blender to puree up the hot soup until it's super-smooth. It should still be hot enough to serve straight away. Pour into bowls. You can make it fancy by adding a dollop of sour cream in the middle and some cracked pepper.
7. Garlic bread is a MUST.
Makes 4 bowls. Freeze the leftovers in Tupperware or sandwich size snaplock freezer bags. Defrost for lunches