Steady !!! No, I’m not swearing (for once) and you shouldn’t be either! Winter is coming and although I’ve been in slightly warmer climes for the past 10 years, I am ‘girding my loins’ – love to hate that phrase – and getting ready for the onset of CHILL.
Relaxation CHILL, Headspace CHILL & of course bloody cold weather CHILL.
Damn, there’s the first swear word !!
For me, one of my fav things during colder climes is soup making and not just any old soup (well actually, that IS exactly it). What I mean is, bone building, nutrient dense homemade stock soups not out the can soups unless I’m really sick and then only Heinz Tomato will do.
I have vivid memories of my Mum making homemade stock and thinking how gross it looked and stank the kitchen out (not as much as when she made liver though ugh, bless her!!) BUT little did I know then, the goodness she was trying her damndest to get into us. I do believe my love of home cooking and slightly OTT dislike of ready meals comes from the good cooking we were exposed to growing up. Man, she would love to hear me credit her with that today (my daughter and niece got the baking skills, I didn’t).
Anyway, unlike my Mum and my lovely sister Josie, I have a complete inability to follow recipes, I really try, I do, honest! I have more cookbooks than Waterstones and yes, I used to laugh at my Mum sitting watching tv with a stack beside her perusing the beautiful pages to see what she was going to try – hilariously pointed out by the hubster, I do that too (and have been known to take them to bed too).
The difference being though, that Mum & darling Sister would follow the recipe exactly and things would turn out fabulously. Whereas I choose something interesting, think ‘right, this time, I will follow it exactly’, only to get in the kitchen and find although I have more ingredients available than Tesco, I may be missing those one or two vital things, so I start to improvise, there endeth the similarities (apart from the sister and I having swimmer shoulders and hockey player thighs – no disrespect Josie, you know it’s true xxxx)! Aw check us out, so cute & innocent – cough cough splutter splutter!!!
Now, sometimes I make an amazing new concoction and sometimes not so much! But today we’re going with the theory that everything is fantastic and I’m going to tell you about my W.T.F Soups. Again, no swearing, I’m talking about…
WHAT’S in THE FRIDGE soups
There it’s done, I’ve told you about it, now bugger off and go have a relaxing bath. ‘Oh, if only I could’, I hear you say ‘but I’m on the edge of my seat to see what you’re going to say next’. BIG MISTAKE, HUGE! – and where was that quote from? Chocolate watch for the winning answer – homemade chocolate of course.
No, you don’t get away that easy. Putting flavours together for me is quite easy and something I love to try (yes, sometimes they don’t work but shhhh). I may have been a bit of a scaredy cat with other parts of life growing up but I’m happy to be a lone ranger and hi ho silver it in the kitchen (I did experiment with banana on pizzas when a teen – jury still out). If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, there’s the bin.
So where does that leave us with W.T.F soups. Bet you didn’t think I could drone on about making soup – OH YES, I can pretty much drone on about anything. Anyway, all you really need is some basics and you can put together anything. Let’s face it, most of us have veg in the fridge and especially some that may be on it’s last legs (no penicillin though please) and what a wonderful way to stop whinging partners/kids/your brain banging on about money wastage, when you can whack them into one of your concoctions. There’s always random carrots, leftover leeks, onions, garlic etc etc in our house and there you go, get souping. Once you have your stock (I’ll come back to that), you can whack anything in and you don’t even need to cut nicely as a whizzer is THE most used thing in my kitchen. Bring to boil, simmer for 20-30 mins while you do something interesting instead (maybe make my oat bread, may share that another day if I’m feeling generous), whizz and job done, a warm bowl of vitamin & mineral filled goodness for you and your family. My little (well big now) buggers aren’t soup lovers as they grew up in a hot country but yours might be.
If you’re scared of flavours, that’s totally ok and totally normal. Cast your mind to restaurant menus, magazines, Nigella and have a wee think what they put together. The ingredients I mentioned above can be a staple for any soup, you could also add ginger, smoked paprika, turmeric (currently a super spice for anti-inflammatory properties) to give it a warmer feel. Chuck in some leftover chicken, lentils, split peas to make it thicker, lovely tummy lining with a little added protein. Or why not buy a butternut squash (super cheap), chuck it in the oven (no need to cut just poke a couple of times with a sharp knife), whack it in the oven Jamie Oliver style at 180 degrees for about 90 minutes. Whilst it’s in there, saute an onion, some garlic and an optional red chilli in a pan with some butter or Ghee and when the squash is done, scoop out the flesh, mix with readymade or bought quality stock and the onion mix in the whizzer and Bob’s your uncle (actually, we had an Uncle Robert but he was never Bob, although we did have a close family friend, Uncle Bobby – who sadly, recently passed away, apologies went off on one again!). Anyway, voila, beautiful creamy thick soup. Remember if it’s a little too ‘spoon can stand by itself’, you can always add some more stock or some recently boiled water. I’ll pop that recipe on the recipe page of the website.
But do you get the idea, be brave and just chuck in whatever is to hand.
The other day I lobbed 2 very roughly cut onions & 4 cloves of garlic in a big pot with some ghee and gently cooked whilst cutting up 3 carrots and a poor lonely stick of celery found in the fridge drawer and chucked them into the pot. Opened 3 cans of chopped tomatoes (I draw the line at fresh ones, they make my hands itch), some tomato paste that needed finishing, in too. Found the frozen stock I had saved from a few weeks ago from the depths of the freezer, chucked it in and added some lentils from the back of the cupboard (sell by date was fine). Don’t be afraid that you have to soak lentils etc etc, yes the packet will tell you to do that but as long as there is enough liquid in the pan, they’re going to soak anyway, right! Give them a quick rinse under the tap to get off any bitter coating or dust that can be on some and then we’re back to Bob. Simmer 30 mins, into the whizzer and I not only had about 4 big bowls worth of soup for me (fridge 2, freezer 2), but I also made 3 different types of pasta sauce for the ever hungry teens. Plain tomato (for both), Tomato & mozzarella for the girl and chicken, chorizo and tomato for the man boy. HOW SMUG DID I FEEL !!!! and how much of a state was the kitchen in. Oh well creativity CANNOT be found in a tidy space in my life.
So as usual, my over explanations and drivvle about a teeny wee subject of soup have led to you probably snoring BUT my cowgirls and cowboys, go hi ho silver it into the kitchen and EXPERIMENT with W.T.F soups! Bang on the radio or some choons and have fun and get that lovely creamy nutrient dense goodness ready for the big CHILL, remember it’s all freezable. Do let me know what you come up with, although if you send me an exact recipe, I may have to cry.