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SOUP SAVVY

Whatever it is called — suppa, zuppa, suppe, soupe— or whatever the ingredients — fruit, vegetables, cereals, meat, fish — every country has their own version. Soup is the world’s favourite treat.

Historically, soups were either thick and a meal in themselves, or thin and broth-like and used medicinally. Today, many a gourmet claims that a clear soup should announce the tone of the dinner ‘as an overture of an opera announces the subject of the work.’ Others sing the praises of thick, nourishing stand-alone soups. I love both.

Comforting, especially when it’s cold outdoors or someone is feeling cold and rotten, the most popular thin soup in the world must be chicken soup, made by cooking chicken in stock or water. When the chicken is cooked, it is deboned and the meat can be returned to the soup or eaten separately. Vegetables, rice or noodles can be added to provide more body, if preferred.

A bowl of Italian Sausage Soup (featured) is an offer even most Mafia godfathers probably couldn’t refuse! It is regarded as a ‘big dish’: filling, cheap and prepared with sausage meat and nutritious vegetables, this Italian pleaser provides a very enjoyable complete light evening meal.

ITALIAN SAUSAGE SOUP

3 Italian beef sausages
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups good beef stock
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
400g can each: Italian diced tomatoes, cannellini beans
1 cup each: chopped green beans, whole kernel corn
2 cups chopped rinsed spinach
salt and pepper to taste 

Squeeze out the meat from 3 sausages into rough 3cm balls. Heat the oil in a heavy non-stick saucepan. Sauté the sausage balls for 3-4 minutes — stirring — until lightly coloured.

Add the garlic, stock, carrots and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the undrained cannellini beans, green beans and corn. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the spinach. Cover and allow the soup to cook the spinach. Season. Serve after about 5 minutes. Serves 4.

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH SALMON BRUSCHETTA

A food-processor soup.

500g white button mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, quartered
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 sprigs parsley, stalks removed
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
Bruschetta:4 thick slices ciabatta
olive oil for brushing
100g hot smoked salmon

Brush the mushrooms clean if necessary. Place in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped.

Heat the oil in large saucepan and add the mushrooms. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the onion, celery, parsley and thyme in the food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add to the saucepan. Increase the heat and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onion has lost its raw onion taste.

Add the chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Purée in the food processor or with a hand blender, until smooth.

Meanwhile toast the ciabatta and brush with olive oil. Break up the salmon and pile on the toasts. Can be served beside the soup or carefully float on top. Use a spoon and fork to pull it apart while enjoying. Serves 4.

THAI GREEN CURRY CHICKEN SOUP

The green sauce adds great colour and flavour.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, finely sliced
500g skinned and boned chicken thighs, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2-4 tablespoons Thai green curry paste or to taste
400ml can coconut cream
3 cups good chicken stock
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 cups finely sliced green beans
Green sauce: 1/3 cup lime or lemon juice
1 packed cup mixed basil, coriander, mint leaves
6 Vietnamese mint leaves

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Sauté the onion on medium heat, until softened. Increase the heat and add the chicken and garlic cooking until the chicken is coloured.

Stir in the curry paste then add the coconut cream, stock, kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the green beans and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the kaffir lime leaves.

Meanwhile place the lime or lemon juice in a blender with the herbs. Whizz, until smooth.

Pour into the soup and serve. Serves 4.



 

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