If you find vegetables lurking in the fridge at the end of the week and are unsure of what to do with them, then there is a perfect way to solve that problem – soup. To prepare a delicious soup, keep the following points in mind.
Base: A good base ensures every soup starts well. Begin with a medium onion and chop in a few basic vegetables, possibly a combination of a carrot, one stick of celery and one leek, to give a rounded flavor. Heat a knob of butter and drop in the chopped vegetables, stir and cover with the lid. Cook with an occasional stir for 15 to 20 minutes to soften.
Spicing: A pinch of spice can work wonders in most soups. Cumin is a great all rounder, giving an earthy taste to almost all soups. For a Thai flavor, add fresh garlic, ginger and ground coriander. For Indian, add a pinch of cumin, turmeric and fenugreek or garam masala. Tomato soups can take on a Mexican or Spanish feel with a pinch of sweet smoked paprika. Do not be shy to combine your spices, if you add somewhere between a pinch and a teaspoon, they will not take over but rather give you a depth of flavor.
Thickening: If you prefer a smooth textured or hearty soup, then some type of thickener is required. Adding a peeled medium potato at the beginning with the other base vegetables or coating the vegetables with a spoonful of flour before adding the stock can do the trick.
Stock: A good stock is another key essential when making soup. It is always good to have some stored in the freezer. If you have not got time or simply do not have homemade stock, buy a good quality one from the supermarket.
The main ingredient: If you want a particular ingredient to shine, then add more but not enough to spoil your meal. If adding spinach, then make sure it is added a few minutes before the end to ensure it stays vibrant and tasty.
Blending: It is up to you to decide whether to blend the soup or not. A leek and potato soup can be more tasty if blended and a few finely sliced bits of leek added minutes before the end gives it a little texture. If you are not planning to blend, cut chunks into no more than bite-sized pieces, to make it easy to eat.
Garnishing: Sprinkling finely sliced spring onions, a few croutons or a handful of chopped herbs make a great finish along with giving a great taste. Likewise, a drizzle of cream or a dollop of crème fraîche and a grind of black pepper gives a restaurant touch if you are serving it to friends.
Vegetable soup: In a large stock pot, combine one can of chicken broth, one can tomato juice, one cup water, one large diced potato, two sliced carrots, two stalks diced celery, one can undrained chopped tomatoes, one cup green beans, and one cup corn kernels. Season with salt, pepper and add creole seasoning to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and then serve.