Monday, 21 November 2016

Homemade soup experiments - initial success!

My current Slimming World weight-loss regime almost requires you to experiment in the kitchen, to find tasty and easy-to-prepare meals that you like, and will want to make again. I was missing the chilled soups I'd been buying for months from Waitrose, which were now rather synful. I threw them away, and decided to try making my own. It was a chance to be creative.

As a fallback, I bought Slimming World's Little Book of Soups (£3.95), so if my soup-making experiments failed utterly, then I could follow those recipes (which mostly looked very attractive). But really I fancied myself as a cook good enough to invent a few soups myself, subject to doing them in a way that was completely SW-approved. I decided to start with a Vegetable Soup.

It was quite obvious that a soup can be made out of virtually anything edible. I suspected however that the easiest and cheapest Vegetable Soup to make would include no more than the standard vegetables available in any supermarket. I wasn't therefore going to prepare an exotic soup using unusual or hard-to-obtain foodstuffs. Just the ones I knew I could buy blindfolded. And all of them vegetables that I liked.

So, I assembled these ingredients:

500ml of beef stock.
One 400g tin of chopped tomatoes.
One carrot.
One parsnip.
One potato.
One courgette.
One red pepper, meaning a red capsicum.
Two shallots.
A dessert spoonful of Marmite.
A dash of soy sauce.
Salt, pepper, Aromat.

These turned out to be enough for three 400ml servings - a normal-sized bowlful. I was going to consume one serving straight away, but freeze the two others, storing them in plastic containers.

All the cooking was done in a flat-bottomed wok (the sort you'l normally find in the average High Street cookshop, and not the traditional round-bottomed wok sold in Chinese grocers).

All the various fresh vegetables in my list above were first chopped up into small pieces with a knife on a chopping board. And not too small: I wanted the soup to be reasonably chunky. Rough chopping was quite sufficient - this was going to be a hearty peasant soup, and sophisticated precision dicing would be inappropriate.

Then I assembled everything else I'd need, and turned on the electric kettle for the crumbled stock cube in the measuring jug. I liberally sprayed one-calorie frying oil into the wok, and brought the heat up to medium.

The chopped shallots went in first, and I fried them for a couple of minutes, until they were showing the first signs of going brown. Then I added the chopped carrots, parsnips, potato, courgette, and red pepper all in one go, gave them a liberal spray of one-calorie frying oil, and tossed everything about for a few minutes, still on medium heat, with two cooking spoons. During this part I added some salt, pepper and Aromat.

By this time I'd made my stock in the jug, and now I poured it into the wok. Then I stirred the mix. The can of chopped tomatoes followed immediately, with more stirring, and then without delay that spoonful of Marmite, and a nice dash of soy sauce.

A final stir, and then I turned down the heat to low, popped on a lid, and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. Then I cut the heat, took away the lid, and, with a ladle, filled a bowl:

It was hot and full of strong flavour, and extremely hearty. I loved it.

I ladled a little more juice into this first serving than I should have, because the next two, when I defrosted them, were rather thicker - but tasty and filling in exactly the same way:

So this first invented effort was an amazing success.

It was a smiling iranu, and not a frowning uvavu.


  1. Wow Lucy, what a lot of ingredients! It may not be so exciting to use fewer ingredients but the results can be delicious.

    I usually start with softening some onion, buy a large sackful they go in everything, chop some veg, any veg, carrots or butternut squash, or pumpkin if there are any left of broccoli, practically anything. If you wish you can cook this veg with the onions , adds a bit of flavour. Add some stock, I like a concentrated liquid in a bottle so need some water, with the concentrate you can adjust to taste, simmer with lid on.

    You soon work out how long they take, ten twenty minutes will usually do it, not too critical. You can add herbs, seeds or spices to taste during cooking, these flavours often improve if soup kept for second day. You can change flavour on second day with something like curry paste to make it different. Added beans or chick peas can bulk it out to make a decent main meal.

    Yesterday and today we had beetroot chopped fine and a carrot because they were the last beetroot from the garden, touch of dill and a splash of balsamic vinegar to cut the sweetness. Added benefit is that soup keeps you filled up and content for longer than the same food as a conventional plateful...

    Winter is perfect to be trying out different soups.

  2. Ooh, thanks. I'll certainly experiment on these lines!



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