Every Saturday I’m always surprised that only a couple of hours after consuming their own body weight in syrup laden pancakes the kids are starving hungry. And, whilst I’m usually pretty reliable on the dinner front, what with the meal planner and everything, often I get to Saturday lunch time and think “what the hell do we have to eat?”
But when I think about it a little we normally have the ingredients to throw together some sort of soup and looking out at the frosty grass in the garden it seems that we are firmly entrenched in soup season.
So here are a few soups which I have been making lately and which have really hit the spot:
Rachel Roddy’s Winter minestrone of celery, pumpkin, cavolo nero and white beans
I’ve been using Rachel Roddy’s recipes since last year when I asked for her book “Five Quarters of Rome” for Christmas, after seeing her at a Guardian Cook event. The recipes are fantastic for getting loads of flavour out of very little ingredients and I seem to have developed a liking for soups with beans in, which is reality turn into more of a broth. This one is a pretty darn good and satisfying soup
500g cavolo nero, thick stems removed and chopped, leaves rolled and shredded
1 large onion, diced
3 ribs of celery, with a few leaves, diced
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
400g pumpkin/squash flesh, in 1cm chunks
1 potato, in 1cm chunks
400g cooked white beans
1.5 litres of water or bean broth (or a mix of both)
A parmesan rind (if you have one)
A small sprig of sage
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan and slowly fry the onion, celery and a pinch of salt, until soft, which will take about 8 minutes.
- Add the squash and potato to the pan along with the cavolo nero stems and a tiny pinch of salt, stirring to prevent sticking, until each chunk glistens with oil. Add half the cavolo nero leaves, half the beans, the water and the parmesan rind.
- Raise the heat so the soup nearly boils, and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Five minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the rest of the cavolo nero and beans. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed then chop the sage and add it. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then serve, passing round a bowl of grated parmesan for anyone who wants it.
In reality my version of this was a little different given I didn’t have any squash, sage or a handy parmesan rind. I popped in some sweet potato though and added some cheddar (sorry Italians) at the end as I thought it needed a boost of flavour no doubt caused by my lack of essential ingredients!
Feed the Team’s red pepper and sweet potato soup
3 sweet potatoes, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 red onion, chopped
1 litre chicken or veg stock
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Soften the onion in the olive oil, then add the other veg and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock and spices and simmer until soft. Blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Serve with a little sour cream and extra paprika.
Alternatively, you can roast all of the veg together on a baking tray for about 15-20 minutes and then out in a pan with the stock for 5 minutes to heat through; blend and serve as before.
I find the colour of soup is often the most important thing and my eldest would only eat “orange” soup for quite some time! He has moved on since though and the next recipe is his favourite.
Billy’s favourite leek and potato soup
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 potatoes, cubed
1 litre chicken or veg stock
Soften the onion in the olive oil, add the leek and potato and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the potato is soft. Blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Add a bit of cream or milk if you fancy it.
To be honest it doesn’t get much easier or quicker than this and given we’ve got a leek festering in the fridge I think this is the one for today!