2nd January 2013

Winter Warmers: Warm up with some scruptious soups

It’s that time of year; the weather is cold and dark, the heat just never seems to make you warm enough and we begin to think about winter warmers. Sandwiches or salads just don’t cut the mustard when it feels like the Artic outside. A tasty and hot lunchtime alternative is the soup. Thick ones, runny ones, full of beans ones, there is a soup for every person.

Soup sales are on the up to, according to the FT with Campbell and Heinz performing well, as too are own-brands. It’s easy to understand why; it’s a convenient, tasty and satisfying way to feed a family. 

What we can’t track is how many people are making soup in this country but we imagine it would be pretty high. As I mentioned, the good thing about soup is that there are so many varieties, you can go a bit more sophisticated with a crouton, have a hearty meal with bread and butter or simply serve it solo. It’s a flexible meal choice that is usually packed full of vegetables (blend up if you have fussy eaters) that is packed full of flavour too!

Here’s my top three soups at the moment and how you can create them…

1. The staple, Tomato Soup


- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 1 cloves garlic, crushed
- 750g (1½lb) ripe tomatoes, quartered
- 400g (13oz) tin chopped tomatoes
- 1l (32fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1tbsp chopped basil, to serve
- Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes and the stock. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little, then purée the soup in batches in a blender or with a hand-held blender. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot garnished with the basil and a drizzle of oil.

2. A British favourite, Broccoli and Stilton


- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, sliced
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 medium potato, diced
- 1 knob butter
- 1l low salt or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
- 140g Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan and then add the onions. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Add a splash of water if the onions start to catch. Add the celery, leek, potato and a knob of butter. Stir until melted, then cover with a lid. Allow to sweat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid. Pour in the stock and add any chunky bits of broccoli stalk. Cook for 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are soft. Add the rest of the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Stir in the stilton, allowing a few lumps to remain. Season with black pepper and serve.

3. Packed full of goodness, Vegetable Soup


- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
- 2 small leeks, trimmed and sliced
- 50g red lentils
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 100g green beans, trimmed and cut into short pieces
- 1 tbsp corn flour
- 750ml dairy-free milk like Oatly Enriched or Organic oat drink

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, carrot, parsnips and leeks and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the lentils, stock and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the green beans. Blend the corn flour with a little of the Oatly then add to the soup with the remaining Oatly and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Season and serve with crusty bread.

Let me know if you have a go. Do send us a pic otherwise let us know the scrummy soups you are sampling!

Amy Lewis

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