Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Recipe - Vegetable Soup

With a new year upon us, it's traditional and inevitable to look back at the greed and indulgence of Christmas and make some determined efforts to finally get healthy.  New Year's Resolutions aren't necessarily a great idea though, with some recent reports suggesting that 3/4 of us will abandon those grand plans by the 3rd week of January.  Far better then to hold off on the resolutions until February before ultimately binning them shortly before the month of March.

Or, of course, we can try to be good at least a little more often.  Although you'd be forgiven for thinking that my entire diet consists of takeaway style food, that's only 75% true.  My obsession runs to all things food related and I do spend a considerable amount of time cooking and reading about more traditional foods.  Although I stand by the fact that most of the recipes in The Takeaway Secret and More Takeaway Secrets are reasonably healthy, researching those dishes and sampling the real thing from various takeaways over the years has certainly taken its toll.  Sure, I could stand to lose a stone.  Or two.  With that in mind, and given that we're still in the depths of dark and cold days, what better place to start than with a bowl of wholesome vegetable soup.

This recipe is my starting point for various soups but more and more I find myself sticking to making it exactly as described below.  It's a very simple recipe which contains no added vegetable oils and cuts out the stir-fry stage altogether.  Ultimately, it's a case of throwing the vegetables into a pot, adding stock and cooking until it's ready.

Basic Vegetable Soup

  • 6 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 large piece of turnip (around the same bulk as 2 carrots), peeled and diced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 6-8 tablespoons of red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 litres of light vegetable stock (made using 1.5 litres of water and 1 1/2 vegetable stock cubes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
  • Pinch of paprika (optional)
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of dried parsley
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • Up to 1 litre of water

Add the peeled and diced vegetables to a large pot.  Add the light vegetable stock, turmeric and paprika.  Stir once and place over a high heat until boiling.

As the soup begins to boil, a foam or 'scum' will begin to form over the surface.  Allow the soup to boil for around 1 minute and the foam should gather around the middle of the pan.

Use a spoon to lift the foam out from the pot until it becomes clear.  You don't have to be wonderfully precise about this and in-fact it's not completely necessary to do this at all, however it does make for a nicer looking soup.

With the soup now looking clear, add the black pepper, dried parsley and dried thyme.  Turn the heat down to low and place the lid loosely on top.  Avoid sealing the pot completely with the lid as this will cause the soup to boil too quickly.

Simmer the soup on a low heat for around 1hr, stirring occasionally.  After this time, the soup may be mashed with a potato masher or blended with a hand blender.  Of course, using a hand blender will result in a completely smooth soup.  I prefer to use a potato masher as this thickens the soup but still leaves some nice pieces of vegetables behind.

As the ingredients are blended together, the soup will become considerably thicker.  Add more water, up to another 1 litre.  Return the pot to a low heat and simmer for another 45-50 minutes, again stirring occasionally and adding a little more water as desired.

Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more salt or black pepper as desired.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve, ideally with crusty home-made bread.

This recipe makes between 4-6 portions of soup and keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for 1 month.  As you can see below, I've portioned mine up for the freezer in the hope that my healthy eating might last longer than one day.

This is a basic vegetable soup which can be amended with almost any vegetables you might think to add to it, or can be made exactly as described above.

Happy Cooking!

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