Vegetable soup – take two
A weekend by the sea in autumn is the perfect time for soups. What better lunch, especially eaten by the fire as you gaze out the window at the rolling grey sea. Although it’s not especially cold, you feel like wrapping up warmly and doing the winter thing – and all the things you need for soup have managed to make it out of your city house and accompany you. So, never mind recipe books, this is something that can be made in minutes from some vegetables you have at hand.
Firstly, chop up a couple of onions. We’re not talking slivers here but chunks, of a size that you won’t mind eating when the soup is done. No liquidiser or food processor here. Throw them into a big pan that’s been warming some olive oil and cook over a medium heat while you get on with the chopping.
Enlist the Boyfriend to chop up and thoroughly wash a leek while you peel and chop two carrots. Again, you don’t want pieces that are too big, 1cm cubes are good. Give the onions a stir and throw in a couple of chopped rashers of bacon. Make sure everything is sizzling nicely. You want the onions to soften and sweeten in the cooking. When you see that the onions and bacon are looking good, add the chopped carrots and leek. Give it all a good stir, a couple of minutes to come back to sizzle status, and then add enough water to cover the vegetables. Put the lid on the pot and let it come to the boil.
If you’ve got beans to add – in this case I had some pre-cooked black-eyed beans – throw half of them in intact and mash the other half before adding them. To further thicken the brew I threw in a couple of handfuls of red split lentils which, after a little time cooking, melt into the liquid. Because I had no stock, I was relying on the bacon to give a bit of taste to the soup but added a couple of bay leaves and a pinch of dried thyme as well.Clamp the lid back on the pot again and let bubble away gently for at least half-an-hour. If you’ve a few good tomatoes lying around the house, chop them well and throw them into the pot. Taste and season well. This soup needs a lot more salt than you would think and a good spot of freshly ground black pepper. If you have spinach or silverbeet nearby, get the Boyfriend to wash and chop several leaves after he’s done the leeks. It won’t mind hanging around and if it’s not out then you won’t remember to put it in to the soup. Add for the last five minutes of cooking and, when done, serve the soup with plenty of hot buttered toast. There’s probably enough here for two day’s lunches, unless you’ve got an awful hunger on you from the sea air. And you can feel smugly virtuous as you eat your multi-textured lunch, full of goodness. As my father would say, “there’s eating and drinking in it”.
Chilli! You forgot the chilli!I’ve been making a very similar soup, perfect for winter days (I believe the original recipe was called a Hungarian Winter Soup or something).Anyway, I find that some celery and parsnip in the beginning add great flavour, a bit of chilli (fresh or sambal olek if you want – just enough to make your nose run) and hungarian sausage. I don’t know what that is so I use thickly cut salami ;o)Yummmmm!
Rob: Thanks for the tips! It never ceases to amaze me that something so tasty can be made out of a pile of veg and some water, and the best thing about it is that it’s got endless variations too. As for Hungarian sausage – I think my local butcher may stock it. I feel a soup testing opportunity coming on…