Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

If In Doubt - Make Soup

When I talk about a kick at the pantry door, the absolute essence of the philosophy is that moment when, for any one of a number of reasons, you find yourself in the kitchen, with all your cupboard doors ajar, the fridge door wide open, and you are asking yourself what on earth to make for dinner. Maybe it's not quite payday. Maybe you have neither the time nor energy to get to the shops. Maybe, as often happens in our house, you have a mixture of half used packages and leftovers that don't quite know how to assemble themselves into a proper meal.

Whenever this happens in my house, I make soup. Soup is one of the most under-rated, healthiest, lowest in calories, tastiest, and absolute easiest things in the world to make. It needs no recipe, culinary expertise, little time to make, and its possibilities are endless. I use one simple rule when I make soup - the volume of liquid must slightly outweigh the weight of the solids, normally 500g mixed vegetables to 700ml stock.

Today I made a soup from a bag of sweet potatoes that needed using up. I used a chicken stock cube to make my stock, and added to it the sweet potatoes peeled and chopped, three sweet peppers that were close to their best, and a generous helping of thyme. I left the pan to simmer for an hour whilst I got on with my chores, and returned when the vegetables had softened to the point that they were starting to break up. I added half a bag of spinach that was sitting in the fridge, cooked it through and then blended until smooth.

Gary and I enjoyed big steaming bowlfuls for lunch, with piles of buttered bread, and the remainder has been divided into individual pots and frozen, so that we can defrost and cook a single portion whenever the mood takes. This also makes a cheap and easy healthy lunch option if you work in a place where you have access to a microwave.

Making soup like this, the possibilities are endless, these are some of my favourite options;

Spicy Vegetable
Start by frying a chopped garlic clove and a fresh chilli, then add the stock and vegetables. If you do not have a fresh chilli, 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes could also be used. Butternut Squash or Parsnips are ideal flavours to compliment the spice.
Smoky Bacon and Lentil
Start by frying chopped onions and bacon in a little oil until golden, then add the remaining vegetables, potatoes, and red lentils. Then add the stock.
Chicken and Vegetable
Follow the recipe above, adding 200g cooked chicken. Leftover meat from a Sunday Roast is perfect, alternatively grill 2 chicken breasts, dice and add to the soup before blending.

I would love to hear some of your variations or favourite soup recipes, please post below!

Enjoy! V x

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