We need to have some quick soups in our repertoire for those nights we get home from a long work day, or the fridge is full and it needs to be cleared out. I am all for home cooking, love it in fact, cooking without the pressure of producing cafe-quality or restaurant-quality food. Solid, nutritious, flavoursome food.
The first soup is one to make on the weekend before doing the shopping for the following week. It is a clean-out-the-fridge recipe that will take under 2 hours to peel, chop and cook vegetables into a delicious soup. Make a large batch and freeze what you don’t need immediately.
Cream of Zucchini Soup
When Life gives you zucchini, a pureed soup is your best option. You will need about 10 – 12 small ones or 3 – 4 medium sized ones. This is a good option too when the zukes are past their prime – no longer salad material but still ok to use.
Melt about 60g butter and a little oil in a large saucepan and saute 1 or 2 onions and a stalk of celery, both chopped. Slice or finely chop the zucchini and add to the onions when they soften. Toss in the oil and when they are looking very green, barely cover with water, and add about 500ml milk and 1 tspn turmeric. Add salt to taste and plenty of pepper, and cook for 12 – 15 mins until mashable.
Using an immersion blender is the easiest way to puree the soup, or use a blender. I like to use a blender for a smoother soup. Check the balance of favours and adjust salt and pepper. Ladle into large bowls and garnish with a dollop of cream and chives. Delicious!
Got some things in the fridge? Zucchini Soup can be topped with confit tomatoes, cooked cannellini beans, chilli oil, crispy garlic slivers, or caramelised onions.
Cream of Pumpkin Soup
FOR PUMPKIN SOUP use the same recipe as for the zucchini soup, but with butternut pumpkin. Add some nutmeg with the salt and pepper.
I use Butternut Pumpkin, and will often add 0.5 – 1 peeled and chopped turnip.
Cream of Brussels Sprouts Soup
FOR BRUSSELS SPROUTS SOUP use the same recipe as for the zucchini soup, but with chopped Brussels Sprouts.
A large range of vegetable soups can be made using the same method.
Super Quick Tomato Soup
Take two tins of roma tomatoes and bring to a simmer with about half as much water, salt and pepper to taste and a tspn or 2 of sugar (depending on how tart the tomatoes are). Chop or mash the tomatoes a little as they come to a simmer.
Chop about 3 – 5 Tblspns of fresh herbs – any combination of basil, parsley, chives, dill, spring onions etc.
Taste the soup and adjust seasoning. If it the soup is too strong or too acid add more water and a touch more sugar. If the flavour needs boosting, add a little tomato paste.
As you serve swirl through the herbs and add a dollop of cream. Serve with crusty bread. I like a small dash of vinegar, verjuice or 2 drops bitters too, if the tomatoes aren’t too tart.
THIS SOUP CAN BE MADE IN 8 MINUTES ON THE SOUP SETTING ON THE VITAMIX (or blend on high for 8 – 10 mins until hot). Add the tomatoes, water, salt and pepper and sugar. Blend on the soup setting or on high.
IF YOU HAVE TOMATO PASTE OR PUREE OR EVEN FROZEN TOMATOES in the freezer, they can be used in place of the tinned tomatoes.
Got some things in the fridge? Tomato Soup can be topped with chopped raw tomatoes, chickpeas, feta cheese or cooked grains such as barley or freekeh. Mograbieh can also be added, or tiny orzo pasta.
Add some Hawaiian Chilli Water for extra flavour and a punch. If using Chilli Water, omit the dash of vinegar, verjuice or bitters.
A sort-of Tomato Rasam could be made this way too, with tomatoes, water, tamarind, sugar, rasam powder.
Clean-Out-The-Fridge Vegetable Soup or Minestrone
You do need carrots, celery and onions for this. Other than that, use what you have in the fridge. It is a classic Italian approach to making vegetable soup or minestrone.
If you are making minestrone, soak some dried beans – e.g. cannellini beans – overnight. You can also use tinned beans.
Then put the beans on to simmer while you peel and dice the vegetables. Bring the vegetables to the boil with a good covering of water. You can use a vegetable stock, or add a Tblspn of tomato puree. Add a bay leaf or two, some finely chopped herbs (keep some soft herbs back to add again later, and some for garnishing). If you keep spices in your cupboard you can add a couple of allspice berries, juniper berries, brown cardamom pods, cloves and/or pepper corns, but these are optional. Other flavourings you can try if you have them are a little light miso paste, a tiny amount of tamarind or tamarind syrup, a little wakame, or some Hawaiian Chilli Water. I like to add some pureed tomatoes too, if they are in the fridge.
Make sure your broth is well seasoned. Watch the soup as it cooks, and add the cooked beans if using, about half way through the cooking. Optionally add a handful of small pasta in the last 10 mins of cooking (for minestrone).
Stir through some chopped soft herbs (parsley, coriander, dill, fennel etc) and place in a soup tureen or serve in individual large bowls. Top with the remainder of fresh soft herbs. Add a dollop of pesto if you have some in the fridge. Pass the parmesan cheese at the table.
Got some other things in the fridge? Roast some garlic and add to the soup.