Essential Guide to Soup
It’s the season for soups. The nights are drawing in, the weather’s getting colder and winter is coming. At this time of year, all we crave is a hearty, filling and soul-warming soup to power us through the day.
The beauty of soup is that there aren’t really any rules to restrict your imagination. If you can imagine it — you can make it. The possibilities actually are endless. Keep it simple or make it more complicated, but be sure to pack your bowl full of plant goodness too, to provide your body with all the nourishment it needs.
Virtually any vegetable can be added to soup, so it’s the perfect way to use up those kitchen cupboard loose ends that you’re not sure what to do with. As long as you like the flavour, then chuck it in to your soup. The texture of the vegetable doesn’t really matter, because different soups can have different textures anyway.
What do I need?
Got your vegetables at the ready and now wondering what to do next? Grab veg stock powder for flavour, plus oil or dairy-free spread to cook your vegetables in. All of the usual base ingredients for adding flavour can be applied to soup — think onion or garlics plus seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. If you want to be daring, add a splash of wine to the mix.
Thick or thin? Chunky or smooth?
There’s no right way to have soup. Everybody likes it differently. So whether you like a nice thick blended soup, which is smooth and creamy all the way through, or prefer a flavour-filled broth with chunks of crunchy veg throughout, you do soup your way. When making a Vietnamese influenced pho, the key is to have a thin broth which is full of great flavour. In this case the flavour virtually all comes from the spices used, infuse with ingredients such as ginger, lemongrass and garlic for an authentic-tasting pho. For your thick soup, on the other hand, the flavour predominantly comes from the vegetables, seasoning and stock used. Creamy, thick soup tends to have a base ingredient that thickens it up, such as potato, lentils or a roux base. Traditionally, of course, a roux base is a mixture of flour and fat, however to make a vegan equivalent, use equal parts flour with oil or dairy-free butter. If you are looking for a gluten-free soup, then opt for a different base ingredient.
Traditional pho is influenced by Chinese and French cuisine and came to prominence in the late 19th century.
If you’re looking to blend your soup, then you’re going to need a blender. Perhaps you already have a quality blender sitting in your cupboard just waiting to be used — but even if you don’t have a full blender, a hand one can be quite useful for soup. It can be used directly in the pan, creates minimal washing up, and still does the job. It also means that you don’t have to wait for the vegetables to cool down once cooked, before being able to blend
Don’t forget to season
Soups may not be difficult to make, but ensuring they’re not bland and tasteless is what can take it from a sloppy mess to the stuff winter evening dreams are made of. Starting with a quality stock is the easiest way to give your soup tonnes of flavour without much effort. Adding in nutritional yeast is another handy way to give your soup better texture, and another simple way to give it a flavour kick.
Add some bread
Not sure you’re going to be filled up by the soup? Grab some chunky, crispy bread to dip into the soup and soak up all of the flavoursome goodness. Alternatively, chuck in some croutons to give your soup more bite when serving. Making your own croutons isn’t difficult either, if you have time. Toss cubes of bread in oil and place on a baking tray in the oven or fry in some oil in a pan to crisp up. Serve up and prepare to nourish yourself with soup all winter, because if you’re anything like us — soup is a cold weather meal necessity.