Tuesday 28 October 2008


I used to think that there was some magical skill involved in making soup. I thought that the proportion of ingredients was vital, I thought you needed a mysterious understanding of solid to liquid ratios, I thought it all sounded like a recipe for disaster. I watched people knock up soups without a second thought. When I asked what had gone in they just shrugged and said 'oh just some vegetables, stock, seasoning'. I didn't believe them.

I bought many unsatisfactory plastic containers of faux home made soup. I made a few soups from recipes and, one day, I learned that those people whose soup talents I envied were right. It really can be just veg, stock, and seasoning.

Now the soup I most often make is simply an assortment of root vegetables. It is naturally creamy, always tasty, and mostly bright orange (apart from the time I threw in a lot of purple sprouting broccoli that needed to be used up, we named that batch pond soup, it was still good). There is always a leek (an onion occasionally but I prefer a leek), and apart from that nothing is too fixed. There might be a couple of large potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. There could be sweet potato, squash, celeriac, turnip, swede. Sometimes I have some left over broccoli (see colour warning above) or cabbage. Use what you have, buy what you fancy, a few starchy ingredients and a few to add sweetness are my standards. My best piece of advice is to have two bowls in front of you when you are preparing your veg, one for peel and one for the pieces. No one needs a cluttered chopping board and no one needs to be going backwards and forwards to the bin with all that peel every 30 seconds.

Just dig out a large pan, melt some butter, let’s say a tablespoon, add the leek (or onion), and garlic if you want some, to soften, after a few minutes throw in the rest of your vegetables that have been chopped into roughly equal pieces. Stir them round, season a little, pour over enough hot stock to cover (I mostly use a weak stock of Marigold vegetable bouillon apart from on the rare occasion that I have an abundance of fresh chicken stock). Add a bay leaf if you have one, don't worry if you don't. Cook for about 25-30 minutes, check all of the veg are cooked, blend until smooth (hand blenders are cheap and perfect for soup), check the seasoning (trying not to burn your mouth), add a bit more liquid if it is more baby food than soup, serve. Last night we had walnut bread and a fresh Dutch goats’ cheese to eat with the soup. We ate lots and still have two pots in the freezer for future cold evenings.


Sam said...

I love soup but have never made it. I'll be trying this, great post!

Gemma said...

Thanks Sam. It's a great (and more importantly easy) way to start your soup making so let me know how it goes.

Gemma x