“To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.” – Laurie Colwin
There really is nothing like soup, it’s good for the soul. Like us, you will probably have memories of eating tinned cream of chicken or tomato soup as a child, usually when you were poorly, propped up in bed, a pillow on your lap and still in your pyjamas at 2pm. You might recall scalding your lips as you gingerly sipped at a cup of deep, rich oxtail whilst watching a firework display in a freezing cold field, feeling the warmth spread within you as you swallowed. Whatever, I guarantee that you’ll have a soup memory in there somewhere that can make you smile.
Whilst it’s almost magical, soothing qualities are reason enough alone, there are LOADS of other reasons why you should always consider a good, home-made soup as a meal option, particularly at this time of year:
- It is a simple and highly effective way of getting lots of portions of vegetables into your diet
- It is easy to make in large batches and very portable, making it both practical and cheap.
- Made in one pan, soup ensures that all the goodness in the ingredients is retained, rather than being leached out and lost in the cooking process
- Soup = satiety. Because of its high liquid content soup helps you feel fuller for longer, meaning that for relatively few calories your appetite is satisfied, a far better return than the empty calories in sugary snacks and processed foods
To make your own soups, all you need is a large stock pot (5-10 litre capacity, ideally with a lid) and a stick blender. Most people usually have these kicking around the kitchen, but if not, they can be picked up relatively cheaply from supermarkets and online. Just be careful to ensure when you are blending hot liquids that the blades of the blender are fully submerged, otherwise you may find yourself on the wrong end of a red-hot Catherine wheel of soup chunks. Not pleasant, and trust me, I speak from personal experience…
A Word on Stock
In simple terms, soup is a liquid food, made by combining meat and/or vegetables with stock. Because of its simplicity, a good stock is vital to the quality of the end product. TV chef’s and food writers will tell you that you simply MUST make your own stock, darling. However for the majority of us, spending an hour up to your elbows in chicken bones, fish heads and celery isn’t exactly at the top of the to-do list. A decent shop bought stock is perfectly acceptable (with a few exceptions), our favourites are Knorr (particularly the liquid, Touch of Taste ones) and Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon, both of which are available at all good supermarkets.
Some of Our Favourites
Depending on your mood, the weather or your appetite, your soup taste may vary. We’ve selected a few different types here for you to try. They are all meant to be eaten hot. You can eat chilled soup, but I can’t think for the life of me why anybody would want to…
Warming and Comforting with a Hint of Spice
We LOVE roast squash and get through loads of it in the winter. Roasting the squash in this recipe really enhances the sweetness of the flesh and the kick of cayenne pepper not only warms you up, it can help to boost your metabolism and burn fat. For our favourite Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, you will need:
– Whole Butternut Squash (Acorn, Crown Prince or any other good edible squash will also do)
– 1.5 litres Vegetable stock
– 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
– 1 tsp Dried sage (it tastes warmer and less medicinal than fresh sage in this recipe)
– ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
– Olive oil
– Sherry Vinegar
Slice the squash into chunks (peeling is optional but removing the seeds isn’t) then in a large bowl, toss with the sage, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, a good pinch of salt and some oil. Roast at 180C for about 40 minutes until blackened at the edges.
Add this to your stock pot with the vegetable stock and a good splash of sherry vinegar then simmer for 10-15 minutes. When done, use the stick blender to blend it to a smooth consistency. Serve piping hot, sprinkled with feta if you like, a meal in itself.
Simple, Cleansing and Aromatic
Tom Yum soup is a type of Thai hot and sour soup, despite being light and nourishing it is the perfect comfort food, and is ideal when you have a cold or feel under the weather. Tom Yum literally translates as ‘hot and sour’ and the paste which is the base for this recipe is a combination of chilli, lime, lemongrass, galangal and palm sugar. For our favourite Tom Yum Soup, you will need:
– 1.5l chicken stock
– 2tbsp Tom Yum Paste (Available in most big supermarkets)
– 1 clove garlic
– A couple of handfuls of Sliced mushrooms
– A pack of raw king prawns
– Juice of a lime
– 2 tsp sugar
– Handful of fresh coriander or Thai Basil
Dead easy this one, simply add the paste and the stock to your stock pan, add the sliced garlic and mushroom and simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavours infuse. Add the prawns and continue to simmer until they turn pink, then remove from the heat, check for seasoning (if you need more salt you can add here or use soy sauce/fish sauce as an alternative). Finally, add the lime juice and sugar, stir and serve, topping the steaming bowls with a small handful of herbs. Guaranteed to heal and nourish, whatever the weather, and all for less than 150 calories!
Twist on a Classic
Tomato-based soups are good throughout the year. Whether a light, summer soup with plenty of fresh basil or, let’s be honest, a tin of good old Heinz cream of tomato, it always goes down well. We’ve pulled together a recipe here with more than a hint of Bloody Mary about it, perfect for the cold months. To make our favourite Tomato soup, you will need:
– 1 litre vegetable stock
– Knob of butter
– 1 small onion
– 2 sticks of celery
– 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
– 1tbsp sundried tomato puree
– 1 tbsp horseradish sauce
– Cayenne pepper (again)
– Celery salt
In your stock pot, finely dice the onion and celery, season and sweat down in a knob of butter until translucent and just catching on the edges. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and add the puree then carefully add the veg stock. Simmer gently for 15 minutes before adding the horseradish and a pinch of cayenne, then blend to a smooth consistency. Check for seasoning, then serve piping hot with a light sprinkle of the celery salt or celery leaves. A side order of vodka is optional…
We hope you try some of our recipes and get into the habit of soup making. Once you start, you’ll never look back 😊
Thanks for reading,
Gav & Emma x