What’s better than a warm fire and a big bowl of comfort food on a cold winter night? Nothing beats a warming homemade supper on a chilly winter evening
Winter’s darkest days will soon be upon us and as the temperatures drop, so we usually like to turn to something warm and satisfying for our family meals. Happily, there are plenty of good options to choose from – soups, curries, stews and hearty pies to name just a few. In this post, we’ll take a look at the first of these: soups.
When it comes to soups and broths, there are all sorts of ready-made convenience products to choose from but sometimes, the tastiest and most rewarding are those we make at home. What’s more, soups are a great way to use up various items in the fridge and cupboard that might otherwise go to waste, so they’re a good idea economically, too.
KQF Winter Soup
The internet is crammed full of interesting soup recipes so you should never be short of ideas. However, the point of this one is that it’s a just a base, and you can add to it whatever you fancy (or whatever you happen to have left in your fridge.) Tasty and a great money saver, it’s also a recipe that offers endless healthy options.
They key to a good soup is to get the base right. To ensure good underlying flavour, a tried and tested combination is a medium onion, together with one carrot and one stick of celery. (People sometimes add a leek, too.) For more traditional soups, these basic vegetable ingredients are cut up into small pieces and then fried gently in butter. However, for healthier, Mediterranean-themed soups, you could use a little olive oil instead. Whichever you choose, ensure the vegetables are well coated, cover the pan and leave over a gentle heat to soften them. This will take between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on how big you like the chunks.
The other important flavour-booster is the stock. This can be made at home by boiling the bones/carcasses of chicken or turkey, together with a few vegetable pieces and perhaps some herbs. This is a great way of getting extra value from your poultry but if time’s pressing, a much easier solution is to buy ready-made stock from your local supermarket.
The thickness of the soup is up to you, of course, and there are different ways of adding substance and texture. Some add corn flour to the base vegetables at the beginning of the process, while others add a diced potato, lentils or sweet potato to the starting mix. A further option is to blend some or all of the vegetables to create more of a pureed consistency. Some people will blend the soup mix part way through the process to create a creamy base, but then add further ingredients, such as pre-cooked meat chunks or some of the more delicate vegetables to ensure the soup retains an interesting texture.
Pre-cooked meats can include pieces of sausage, left-over chicken, beef or lamb, or slices of polony, which can be added to the pan close to the end, just long enough to heat through.
The choice of vegetables, spices, herbs and seasonings is where you can get really creative. Some of the most popular vegetable ingredients include butternut squash, sweet potato, broccoli and tomato but there’s really no limit to how you can experiment.
Whatever you choose, a scattering of fresh herbs, some finely chopped chilli or a spoonful of cream can make a nice finishing touch.