It is very definitely soup weather at the moment. Vegetable soups are really easy to make and have just two or three simple steps – braising the vegetables, adding the stock, blitzing the results (optional).
For four servings of any vegetable based soup you need about 500g of vegetables, whatever you particularly like, cut into manageable pieces, some butter and any flavourings you like plus plenty of seasoning.
Heat the butter over a low to medium heat and tip in the vegetables and flavourings, then turn to low.
You must let everything sit long and slow in the butter, stirring occasionally, but at least 30 minutes and without letting anything brown. This is called sweating – I know. You would think there was a nicer term for it but there you are. If you are channeling some tv chef or other you can make a cartouche from a bit of greaseproof paper and settle it on top before putting a lid on the pan. Or just put a lid on the pan. It works either way.
Once the the vegetables have softened and smell lovely, add some stock. About a litre or so to 500g of veg. If you have lovingly prepared homemade stock this is the place to use it of course but a good quality ready made one or a decent stock cube will do perfectly well instead. Bring everything up to a simmer and let it tick away for about 10 minutes or so. You can then serve the soup as it is, blitz it all with a thunderstick, or half blitz it so that there’s still some chunky bits in there. Entirely up to you. I think soup benefits from a bit of a garnish – chopped herbs, grated cheese, slosh of cream etc. let your imagination run wild…I make a curried parsnip soup for the supper club and garnish that with tiny onion bhajis.
I like garlic bread with my soup and this is how I do mine:
1 large baguette
100g very soft butter
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
large handful of parsley, finely chopped
zest and juice of a small lemon
Slice the baguette into two long halves.
Mix everything else together in a small bowl then spread this flavoured butter along the bottom half of the baguette, place the other half on top and wrap tightly in foil.
Put the wrapped bread top side down onto a baking sheet and place a preheated 200ºc oven. Bake for ten minutes then turn the right way up and fold back the foil. Bake for another 5 minutes then remove from the oven, cut the baguette into thick slices and serve alongside your bowl of lovely soup.
The soups above are (from l to r) Swede, Cream Cheese and Black Pepper, Butternut Squash with Orange and Coriander, Leek and Potato.
*apologies to Victoria Wood