A long time ago there was a song about soup by the Mighty Boosh…
Tasty Soup Soup
Spicy carrot and corriander
Crunch friends in a liquid broth
I am gespatchio Oh!
I am a summer soup Mmmm!
Fighting in the dojo
Oriental Prince in the land of soup”
Along with salad, soup is another favourite among the crew and is rapidly becoming a quick and easy go to lunch for me if I’m rushed with other bits and pieces. It is so easy just to prep some veg, stick it in a pot, boil and then blend. Ta da! Soup. However, there are a few tricks which can turn what is really just vegetable pureé into a tasty soup.
I always put heaps of garlic in everything, this is no different for soup. First I like to fry off some garlic and onion with a little leek too. Add a liter of stock (flavour depending on what vegetables/meat you are using) to the pan, bring to the boil and then add your prepared veg.
And by prepared I don’t just mean chopped. For some recipes I like to pre-cook the veg, for example, Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup gets a wonderful dimension of flavour added by roasting the veg in olive oil, rock salt and a little rosemary before adding them to the stock.
Adding herbs can make a real difference too. Fresh is best though dried is fine if that’s all you’ve got to hand. If you aren’t growing some on the windowsill and are buying cut herbs from the local grocers (please not the supermarkets…), pop them in a glass of water just like you would with cut flowers. Not something I had ever thought of before seeing it in a kitchen in Italy, it might just be me, apologies for perhaps pointing out the obvious. Anyway, a good bunch of parsley in a Broccoli soup does wonders to balance out the sometimes bitter vegetable, especially if you’re going for the iron super-boost and add a bunch of cavolo nero like I did this evening (they grow cabbages in their floral road verges here in Antibes…not sure if that counts as foraging???).
I am also a fan of cheese in soup, one of my favourite allotment recipes before I moved to Italy was Pea and Potato soup; a great way of using up excesses of both crops when you forget to stagger planting (oops). Lashings of mint and a ton of goat cheese make this soup really luxurious, and probably not as healthy as soup ought to be…
Leftovers, great for soup. Got some roast chicken left over from Sunday lunch, wack it in a soup with potatoes and sweetcorn, one of my favourites from childhood!
Croutons. I love croutons. Well actually I like fried bread but it amounts to the same thing. Putting things on top of your soup is all about adding texture. I also like to sprinkle sesame seeds or toasted nuts over the top and a drizzle of something oily or creamy doesn’t go amiss either.
And finally, seasoning. Salt and pepper are really important. If a dish is a little flat it could be that adjusting the seasoning can make all the difference. Salt is not bad for you as long as you don’t overdo it, in fact you need it in your diet to keep you healthy so don’t worry about adding a good pinch to lift the flavour.
Don’t forget, loads of fresh crusty bread to serve it with. So
anytime you need a quick lunch, or have lots of vegetables or leftovers to use up, wizz up a batch of ‘Soup, soup. Tasty soup soup!’