So with Winter firmly on it’s way my food mood has certainly changed from fresh seasonal summer fruits and salads to core-warming, hearty, satiating Winter favourites. I am a big lover of soups, I think they are a tasty, nutritious and economical way to fill-up and warm-up during winter and all year round. In fact, when I was cheffing for a private mountain chalet in the French Alps last summer, my soups were what I received the most compliments on from the exhausted climbers who had just summited the Mont Blanc.
I find that soups can also be a great way of combining ingredients that you may have left over in the fridge or veggie basket. I will often use extra veggies that I have left over from a meal in a soup, which means one extra meal and no wastage! In fact once, after having drastically over-catered, I was left with far too many rosemary and thyme roasted potatoes. Ordinarily, I would not have kept these as I find they are never good the next day. After a bit of a brainstorm, I came up with the idea to make a Roasted Garlic and Potato soup. I simply added chicken stock, roasted some garlic which I chucked in, an onion and a dash of cream and Voilà! The result was surprisingly delicious and cost next to nothing, and because the potatoes had been seasoned with herbs and roasted the soup needed no extra seasoning and had a wonderful smokey flavour.
Soups, despite the stigma, can also be exciting! The generic shop bought soups do not need to be the be all and end all of soup flavours. Experiment and come up with your own delicious combinations. A favourite of my partner’s is one I came across by accident and is a combination of broccoli, chicken and curry flavours.
Root vegetables are in season again and make the best base for soups, so go out and stock up. The great thing with root vegetables is that they last longer than most summer vegetables. Use your left over Halloween pumpkin and expand your tastes by experimenting with new veggies too. Beetroot, red cabbage, turnips and parsnips all have sweet undertones and will be fabulous with caramelised onion, nutmeg and cinnamon. The options are endless so cook up a storm!
Best replacement ingredient:
If you are totally stuck and have no stock or broth cubes in the house you can substitute with one tablespoon of soy sauce added to one cup of hot water. If you would like extra flavourings add a pinch of dried herbs such as garlic, parsley, thyme, turmeric, sage and oregano.
Best Healthy Food Alternative:
If you are trying to be Health Conscious and are counting the calories replace cream in your soup with skimmed milk or soya milk. Here is a quick breakdown for you of calories per glass.
Soy Milk (unsweetened) – 90
Skimmed Milk – 91
Semi-Skimmed Milk – 122
Whole Milk – 146
Single Cream – 198
Double Cream – 449
Best Kid’s Food Tip:
Soups can be a fun way of your kid’s getting their five-a-day and there are a lot of fun kid’s soup ideas out there. One that I came across was Sweet Potato and Cranberry soup. Try this recipe and top with some dried cranberries for a fun, textural element.
Best Cost Saving Tip:
Look out for fruit and veg in the reduced section of the supermarket. If it is over-ripe or past sell-by freeze it when you get home, use veggies for stock and fruit to blend and add to smoothies or as a natural sweetener for porridge.