All soup is soul food.
Bee Wilson, British Writer
Deservedly a universal favourite, soups come in more varieties than any other dish. A soup provides warm comfort on cooler days and can be a meal in itself — served with chunky breads and/or cheese on the side.
Prepared using vegetables, meats, herbs, lentils and stocks, soups are also extremely nourishing. Stocks form the basis of most good soups.
Tetrapack stocks can be boiled and reduced to intensify the flavour. I often add a few herbs to provide more punch. Some stock cubes are very salty so don't add extra salt to your soups during preparation.
A good vegetable stock is versatile, especially if you have a vegetarian in the family. It can replace chicken, fish or beef stock in a recipe. Use vegetable trimmings such as onion skins, together with chopped carrots, onions, leeks, parsnips, celery and/or turnips plus herbs and peppercorns. Add a few mushrooms if a dark stock is required. Brown the veggies in a little oil in a large saucepan. Pour in enough hot water to almost cover. Simmer on low heat for about three hours, until reduced. Strain, cool and freeze in one-cup amounts.
LENTIL & SAUSAGE SOUP
If preferred, replace the carrot with celery or for 1 cup of diced pumpkin or kumara. Dried peas could replace the lentils.
400g Italian-style sausages or similar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 each: onion, carrot, capsicum, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 litre (4 cups) beef stock
1 cup each: water, dried red lentils, broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced silver beet
Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings and form into 2.5cm balls. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the sausage balls for 5 minutes or until browned. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan on medium. Add the onion, carrot, capsicum and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the stock and water. Bring to the boil.
Rinse the lentils under cold water. Add to the soup. Simmer until they are just soft about 10 minutes.
Add the broccoli florets and sausage balls and simmer gently for 5 minutes then add the silver beet. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes or until just wilted. Serves 6.
CREAM OF CELERY SOUP
Make the thin white sauce by making a paste with 1 1/2 tablespoons of plain flour mixed with a little milk in a deep microwave jug or bowl. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir well. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, until thick. Whisk a couple of times during cooking. Stir in 25g butter until melted.
250g celery, diced
1 medium onion, sliced
200g potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups thin white sauce
freshly grated nutmeg
Place the celery, onion, potatoes and stock in a large saucepan. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Purée the vegetables until smooth.
Stir the hot purée into the hot white sauce. Reheat gently. Garnish with the nutmeg. Serves 4.
Serve for lunch or as a starter to dinner.
1 each: small onion, celery stalk, diced
1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, dried oregano
3-4 drops Tabasco sauce or to taste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons each: tomato paste, plain flour
2 cups fish or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
210g can pink salmon, drained
1/2 cup cream
Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onion and celery and sauté gently until softened. Season then stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle the flour in and stir until well mixed.
Pour in the stock and wine. Add the bay leaf. Simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Break the salmon into chunks removing any bones and dark skin.
Discard the bay leaf and purée the soup until smooth. Reheat gently adding in the cream and salmon. Serves 4.