Soups can be almost anything you wan them to be – healthy and nutritious, thick and stew-like, spicy, traditional, creamy, brothy…about as versatile as you can get! But my favourite thing about soup? It’s soup-er easy to make! (That’s the only bad soup pun, I promise)
Once you have the basics down, soup is a great food whether you want to let your imagination run wild and make up a recipe, or just use up what veg you have left in the fridge. Here are the basics on which you can build your own delicious soup recipes.
A great way to be mega thrifty with you vegetable cuttings is to regularly make your own stock. I simply save peelings and cuttings such as potato peelings, onion skins, stalks from broccoli and spinach, cauliflower leaves and root vegetable ends and anything else spare. The more veg you squeeze in the pot, the more intense the flavour will be.
If you know you might not get a chance to make stock for a week or so, keep the cuttings in the freezer. Place them in a large pan with water and boil for around 45 minutes with salt, pepper and any other herbs or spices you like. You might want to tailor the seasoning to suit the soup you are planning. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, or even better through muslin if you have any.
Softening the base vegeables
Most of my dishes start off this way anyway but my soups always begin life with softening chopped onion and garlic and, if appropriate, some chilli, by frying in oil. Then add any herbs or spices and chopped vegetables of choice and coat everything in the herbs and spices. My soups usually include a large potato or some red lentils if I’m making a thick soup. Fry for a few moments.
Take your delicious home made stock, or shop bought stock if you haven’t had a chance to make your own, and add to the seared vegetables. I always start with enough stock to cover the vegetables. It’s always better to put less stock than you might need as it’s easier to thin out the soup than it is to thicken it at the end.
This is my favourite part as I get a chance to let the food get on with it, whilst I tidy or read or do some blog writing! Simmer until the vegetables are soft and easy to blend. If your soup is going to be creamy, now is the time to dollop it in! Vegan cooking cream like Alpro’s carton is good if you have some. Otherwise unsweetened soya milk can work well, or oat milk, as both are quite creamy. I would avoid really strong tasting milks like hazelnut.
I am fortunate enough to have a hand blender with a special soup attachment to stop any splashing (get me!), but a normal hand blender or a food processor work too. Blitz the hell out of your concoction and gauge if you are happy with the thickness of the soup. If it’s too thick, put in some more stock in. If it is way too thin, you can add more cooked potato or red lentils and blend again.
If you want a broth type soup, leave the blending out and serve your soup complete with chunky vegetables, making sure they are not over cooked. Chop the chunks larger to give it some bite and you can even add some spaghetti or other small pasta shapes.
I usually serve soup with crusty warm bread and vegan margarine, or home made garlic bread. You can also easily make croutons by chopping up a stale loaf into cubes, sloshing some olive oil, salt and herbs on them and roasting them in the oven for 10-15 mins.
I used Chinese five spice, runner beans, pepper, sweetcorn, red onion and some delicious flavoured tofu. Obviously this wasn’t blended and I added glass or rice noodle to the soup to cook for 10 minutes before serving.
Spinach and chesnut soup
Chestnuts were fried after onions and boiled in the stock along with potato. The spinach was added toward the end and all blended. I added roasted seeds to the top of this one. Delish!
Roasted squash and chestnut soup
The full recipe for this can be found in a previous blog post. The squash roasted and then put into the stock with the chestnuts. A small amount of cream makes this a really comforting and filling soup and perfect for the winter.
“Ham” and pea soup
This is the simplest of soups involving just onion and potato cooked in stock a bag of frozen peas added at the end and the whole lot blended up! I used some left over Vbites gammon roast which I crisped up in the oven. You could use any other type of fake bacon or ham or maybe even onion crispy bits if you don’t like the smokey flavour of the fake bacon and ham.
What is your favourite soup flavour?!