Consumed generously in winter, soup is considered one of the warmest, easiest and most nutritious items you can pick from a menu or make at home. Apart from Gazpacho which is a Spanish vegetable soup usually served cold on summer days; literally any vegetable (accompanied by protein) – can be turned into soup.
Soup Types and Cooking Methods
In the world of kitchens, soups are made by sautéing the vegetables first so they’re soft, pureeing them later and either adding chicken/meat/vegetable/fish stock to them to give a clear consistency or adding full cream to give them a creamy consistency – along with necessary herbs and spices. Examples of clear soups include Minestrone and creamy ones include Mushroom Soup. There are also Bisques, which are very thick cream-based soups such as the famous Lobster Bisque as well as Chowders which are also thick soups but mainly potato based; Clam Chowder is known as the king of Chowders.
Usually essential in large kitchens at hotels and restaurants, a consommé or bouillon is the very refined and clear version of stock, which is essential in all soups, based on what type it is, be it fish, meat, poultry or vegetables. At home you can just do with a regular stock by simmering vegetables, poultry, meat or fish in water, salt, pepper, cardamom, bay leaves and just covering them up to speed up the process.
A few tips on making good soups;
- Start with cold water then let it heat up as you go – it brings out all the flavors as opposed to pouring boiling water at first which can inhibit flavors.
- Cut your veggies finely, this adds an extra rich flavor to your soup.
- Browning your aromatics such as onion, carrot, and celery definitely adds flavor.
- Let your soup simmer – very high heat will make you lose the flavors and too low won’t bring them out.
In the spirit of winter and Christmas, we share here this delicious silky creamy Pumpkin soup recipe:
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 kg pumpkin, peeled and deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 142 ml double cream
- 4 slices toasted bread for serving
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently cook the onions for 5 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the chopped pumpkin to the pan then carry on cooking for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
- Pour vegetable stock into the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes until pumpkin is very soft. Pour the double cream into the pan and bring back to a boil, then purée with a hand blender. For an extra-velvety consistency you can push the soup through a fine sieve into another pan.
- While the soup is cooking, cut the bread into small croutons. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, and then fry the bread until it starts to become crisp.
- Serve scattered with croutons and drizzled with more olive oil and balsamic vinegar if you want.