"Soup....puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day and awakens and refines the appetite" Auguste Escoffier.
Since man could cook with fire soup has been a staple on the menu. In fact, for thousands of years it represented the main meal, especially for the poor and peasant classes.
Most countries seem to have their own version, from minestrone in Italy, Bortsch of Poland and Russia, stews of Ireland, chowder in the US, noodle soups of Asia and 'pot au feu' of France.
With the advent of Classical French cuisine, helmed by the king of chefs himself, Auguste Escoffier, soups gained a place on the Classical menu. The French terms have migrated into the English language and we are all familiar with consommé, bisque and velouté for example.
However, with the advances of food manufacturing processes and the desire for convenience foods, soups became portable and a mainstay of many a kitchen pantry. If all else fails and there is no food in the house, lurking at the back of the cupboard is most likely a tin of soup.
Soup, even the word itself sounds comforting, and conjures up images of warmth, cosiness and a feeling of wellbeing.
Jewish chicken soup is world renowned as 'Jewish Penicillin' staving off many a virus and restoring strength. With it's bounty of root vegetables and healing broth it is now on trend for healing gut related conditions.
With Autumn firmly taking hold we are blessed with a wonderful variety of vegetables for making soup. I tend not to use a recipe any more. I am inspired by flavour pairings, what is in season and of course by posts on social media.
There really is no mystery to making soup. Forget the French classical ones, involving all manner of straining and skimming and perfection.
If you can use a chopping board and can use a knife you can make soup. I don't weigh or measure but prefer to be guided by my senses.
I always start with the basics, onion and garlic, or mostly shallot, as it has a more delicate flavour than onion.
Gently sauté the finely chopped shallot and garlic in some olive oil, or coconut oil, depending the style of soup.
Next it is time to add in your spices and seasoning if using and coat the shallot and garlic mixture and cook gently for a couple of minutes.
Leeks, finely sliced, add a delicious velvety texture so add these in if you have them. Leeks are very nutrient dense and low in calories and are also particularly high in provitamin A carotenoids, including beta carotene. Your body converts these carotenoids into vitamin A, which is important for vision, immune function, reproduction, and cell communication. The Greek philosopher Aristotle attributed a clear voice to a diet of leeks and it is maybe no coincidence that the Welsh are world renowned as singers and have the leek as the Welsh National symbol!
In the photo at the top of the page I then added in a chopped butternut squash, a hokkaido pumpkin, which is a lovely little orange pumpkin with a soft cooked texture reminiscent of chestnuts. I also added in a couple of courgettes and a fresh sweetcorn.
Add in water, chicken or vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the veggies are done to your liking. Season to taste.
This made about 3 litres of soup so I froze some and kept the rest for several lunches. To add some variation and more protein, to one serving I added some pesto sauce and some tempeh, fermented soyabean and some fresh thyme, for it's anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties, but also for it's full on flavour of winter food.
Soup is warming, will increase your wellbeing, is cheap, will keep you fuller for longer, is hydrating, and perhaps most importantly is a super easy way to increase the diversity of vegetables you consume.
Soup really is Super!!
Registered Nutritional Therapist, Dip. NT, BANT