On the wonderful Facebook group associated with this blog, we have been talking on a long thread about helping anyone who wants to learn to cook, and needs some help with the basics. This is one of what will be many in a series. If there are any things that you would like to see covered, please let us know, either commenting here, or on Facebook, and we’ll do our best
How To Make Soup
There are literally thousands of recipes for soup. If you don’t yet know how to make it, Google may prove to be more confusing than enlightening. So, what to do? I’ll try here to demystify the art of soup making and give you a base to work from.
You don’t need any specialist equipment to make soup. You will need a saucepan, something to stir with (I love these silicone ones, very useful to get every last scrap and they can be used in all saucepans, including non-stick), a sharp knife, possibly a vegetable peeler, and a chopping board. All these items are available in Pound shops, markets and most supermarkets.
Soup makers have become very popular lately, and many people love them, although it’s not something I would get. Stick blenders are incredibly useful and I use mine all the time, perfect for soup. Or, if you prefer, you could use a liquidiser, but wait until you know you will be using it often enough to justify the cost.
A Basic Soup
Tblsp of any fat – vegetable oil, coconut oil, butter, fat from the joint etc
Tblsp tomato purée
100g red lentils
A litre of water
Salt and pepper
Peel the onion and chop.
Sauté the chopped onion in the fat until soft and translucent (see through). Taste a tiny piece to see if it’s done.
While the onion is cooking, prepare the other vegetables. If your carrot and potato are in good condition, there is no need to peel them. Chop into pieces about the size of a large pea. Pile them all into the pan and continue cooking with the onion. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat until all the vegetables are soft and cooked through.
This step is not essential and perfectly acceptable soup can be made without it, but the sauté step brings out the sugars of the vegetables and gives you more flavour in the finished soup.
Once your vegetables are done, add the tomato purée, lentils and the water, no salt yet, it will toughen the lentils. Bring the pan to the boil, now turn down the heat so that the soup is bubbling very gently and put the lid on. Continue simmering for about 20 minutes. The red lentils will melt into the soup in this time.
Add about half a teaspoon of salt and the same of pepper. Stir well and taste. Add more of either if you wish. You can either leave the soup as it is, or whizz it smooth with a stick blender or in a liquidiser.
And there you are, a basic vegetable soup. Nothing fancy needed, no special ingredients or equipment.
Change the flavour using a few herbs. You could use half teaspoon of mixed dried herbs, not too much. Leave to infuse in the soup for a few minutes and taste before adding any more. Use a sprig of thyme or rosemary, or maybe a couple of bay leaves, take these out first before whizzing the soup
Add half a teaspoon of dried chilli, again, not too much at first.
When the vegetables are cooked, add a teaspoon of fresh ginger, a garlic clove, well chopped, and a teaspoon of turmeric. Continue cooking for a minute or two to bring out the flavour of the spices before adding the water. Watch it carefully. Spices soak up the oil and it may start to burn on the bottom of the saucepan. If it all looks too dry, add the water.
Add two teaspoons curry powder or paste, any flavour. Continue as above.
Add half a tin of coconut milk in place of the same amount of water, and perhaps a teaspoon of Thai green curry paste.
Use the same amount in weight of other vegetables, so replace the carrot and potato with mixed frozen veg or broccoli or cauliflower or a tin of tomatoes.
I hope you enjoyed your soup and now you have tried making soup, you want to do some more. Here are a few other recipes you might like
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