I love a bit of soup and will happily eat it most of the year but I especially love a hot bowl of soup on the colder days of autumn and winter.
I’ve really loved experimenting with different combinations lately. So I wanted to share with you some of the basic principles I swear by to make wholesome, homemade soup that’ll be delicious every time.
Soup is perfect to make in large batches and is actually really cost effective. It’s an ideal option for lunches, lazy days or for just when you’re feeling under the weather. Vegetable based soups will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or put it into the freezer and it’ll last for 2-3 months. Follow Nigella’s advice when it comes to defrosting soup effectively.
When it comes to the filling part, to ensure it lasts as long as possible I do prefer vegetable soups and you can pretty much use anything to make your soup.
To make things as simple as possible, use no more than three key vegetables to make your soup, e.g. leek and potato, carrot and coriander, butternut squash, pea and mint etc. To get a thicker consistency of soup without using cream, you can use potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, cauliflower and oats to create something a little heartier.
Once you’ve decided on your combination, start your soup off by sautéing your onions, garlic and veggies that take a while to cook (e.g. carrots, squashes, potatoes etc.), in a spoonful of olive oil for just a few minutes. This does two things: firstly it’ll help release the flavours of the onions and garlic and secondly it helps with the harder veggies cook a little faster.
Stock bases are the easiest way to get water and additional flavouring without too much effort. Generally stick to vegetable stocks when making your soups unless making something with meat; otherwise you could end up with a strong taste of beef and not much else.
Choosing your flavour might seem the scariest part of the process but it’s actually where you have most fun. When starting out, just use small quantities of your chosen spices or herbs to get a taste of what you prefer. When you make it again, and guaranteed you will, you can increase the quantities. We share some common spices, herbs and seasonings to help bring your combinations to life.
Spice (no more than a teaspoon required)
- Cumin- is a spice that will give your soup a kick without the burn. It has an earthy taste to it and helps with colds and flu. It’s a spice that compliments veggie dishes quite well
- Nutmeg- I use nutmeg in my spiced butternut squash soup. It adds a sweet kick to it and a really lovely aroma to your home when cooking. Nutmeg, like Cinnamon, helps to regulate your blood sugar levels making it an ideal companion to your lunches
- We’ve mentioned onion and garlic above but I would add these to all soups!
- Salt- if you’re using a stock cube you may not want to add any additional salt as this will already have some in it. I personally don’t add it in but if you want to, wait until your soup is finished and then do a taste test first.
- Black pepper- if you’re looking for a little bit of heat either to substitute spices or as a kick for the topping, we do love a bit of black pepper. If you want a stronger peppery taste, incorporate white pepper which is stronger in taste. (If grinding, 3-4 grinds should be enough, otherwise, no more than a ¼ of a teaspoon)
Herbs (good sprinkle over your vegetables will do)
- Oregano- compliments a tomato based soup best and helps fight infection
- Basil- a versatile herb that can be used in any dish. It has an earthy, slightly peppery taste to it.
- Rosemary- I love using rosemary with harder vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and squashes; perfect if you’d like to make roasted vegetable soup (which entails roasting your vegetables first, mixing with a little stock and water and blending it). Rosemary also gives soups a comforting aroma.
- Thyme- I find thyme compliments rosemary quite well.
- Coriander- will give your soup a citrusy taste with a slight boost of curry. I think this herb is an acquired taste. It works particularly well with carrot, squash or sweet potato.
How to make: once you’ve sautéed your onions, garlic and vegetables, sprinkle over your desired spices, seasoning and herbs and mix in among the vegetables. Then add your stock. Bring to the boil until the vegetables soften and then either blend or puree (depending on your desired consistency), add a sprinkling of salt and/or pepper if you desire and enjoy.