Soups are wonderful things, nutritious and tasty, warming in winter and perfect as a light meal in summer. You can make them from the freshest of ingredients and adjust them exactly to your taste. They are ultra easy to make and any excess can be frozen. To produce excellent soup at home all you need is a large pan and a liquidiser (blender). What a difference it makes to be welcomed with a lovely bowl of home made soup as opposed to opening up a can of unappetizing soup which will never taste as good again after the home made variety.
The secret of the best home made soup is to work up a good sweat. Not the kind that sends you running to the shower to wash, but rather your ingredients need a good sweat. If you haven’t used the sweating method before then you really will see the difference.
As for a favourite soup recipe, it’s hard to pin just one down. I like a light tomato and basil soup in the summer, or a heady French onion. Carrot and orange is a wonderful combination, as is soup made from a variety of mushrooms. Roasted red pepper soup is tempting any time of the year, whilst thick pea and ham, or leek and potato, go down particularly well in the winter. This is one of my colder day favourites though.
Lentil and bacon soup.
Choose these ingredients in whatever quantity you like, but try and keep them even.
A clove of crushed garlic.
Stock or water.
In a large pan heat olive oil with a tiny knob of butter to prevent burning the vegetables, then add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the pan. Add the chopped bacon, reserving some for later. Stir to coat all the vegetables in the oil, add the seasoning, and turn to the lowest heat possible. Put the pan lid on and let the veggies sweat! Stir occasionally to keep all the veggies evenly coated in the oil. Let them sweat for 20 minutes.
Next add a generous helping of lentils, the water or stock, bring to the boil, and simmer for as long as the directions on the lentils say. Keep an eye out to make sure the lentils don’t absorb all the liquids, and top up with liquid as necessary.
Then simply liquidise the cooked soup until smooth, and garnish with either cooked bacon pieces or croutons. The soup will be a rich deep orangey colour from the lentils and carrots, and should have a delicious taste.
The pleasure of making soups lies in adding whatever you like, topped with fresh things such as sliced mushrooms or grated cheese. Add cream for a richer version if you’re so inclined. Never rush the sweating part, and be sure to taste as you cook.