Nothing beats the winter chill like a piping hot bowl of soup. Nourishing for the body and warming for the soul, the humble bowl of soup takes the spotlight at this time of year.
Soups are a great way to pack vegetables and legumes into your diet in a tasty and satisfying way. Their high fibre and water content keeps you full for a longer period of time, and by adding a protein source like lentils, beans, chicken, fish or beef, you will get even more staying power from your meal.
Homemade is best
Soups are very simple to prepare, and you will get the best flavour, value and nutrition by making your own. Homemade soups allow you to add quality ingredients and use any leftover vegetables you have on hand. You can also easily cook a large batch and freeze leftovers to be reheated for another meal, making it a cost-effective meal option.
Simple and easy step-by-step guide to making soup
Making a basic soup from items you may already have in your pantry
1) Start with a heart healthy fat – first up, your soup will need a small amount of healthy fat, like olive oil to sauté any aromatic flavours and soften hardy vegetables.
2) Choose your veggies – onions, garlic, carrots and celery are often added as standard to soups as they give plenty of flavour. Leek and spring onions are other aromatic vegetables worth a try. To make your soup extra nourishing, add a range of other vegetables. Experiment with zucchini, green beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, capsicum, spinach or corn. The combinations are endless!
3) Pick a base – a quality stock is the foundation of every great soup. Select a stock that suits your palate and the ingredients being used - whether that’s vegetable, chicken, beef or seafood. Store bought liquid stock can be a great time saver and choosing a salt reduced version means you will be getting all that flavour but keeping sodium levels in check.
4) Don’t forget to add some protein – for a soup that leaves you satisfied, add some kind of lean beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish or legumes like red lentil or tinned beans. Make sure that your protein source matches the flavour of your stock base (seafood stock with beef may not work out so well!).
5) Boost flavour with seasonings – for that extra flavour kick, experiment with herbs and spices. These are some popular flavour combinations:
• Tomato based soups – basil, oregano and bay leaf
• Chicken – sage, thyme, parsley, ginger
• Beef – rosemary, thyme, majoram, bay leaf
• Creamy vegetable soups – curry powder, ground fennel, cumin
Once you’ve decided on what ingredients to use, making soup is very straight forward:
1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Sauté chopped aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, celery, carrot) in some olive oil.
3. Brown, or cook, meat for a few minutes to enhance the flavour.
4. Add stock, chopped vegetables and tinned tomatoes if using these.
5. Stir though herbs and spices.
6. Allow to simmer for an hour or two.
7. If using any pasta, noodles or grains like pearl barley, add these in toward the end of the cooking time.
8. Taste throughout and adjust as needed with more herbs and spices.
9. Serve chunky or smooth by blending with a hand mixer.
Crowd-pleasing soup recipes for you to try:
Chunky red lentil and sweet potato soup
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
• 1 ½ cups dried red lentils
• 2 large sweet potatoes, chopped
• 5 cups (1250ml) salt-reduced vegetable stock
• 1 cup water
1. Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add onion and carrot, cooking for a few minutes until soft.
3. Add crushed garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic.
4. Stir in curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
5. Add lentils, sweet potato, stock and water. Stir until well combined.
6. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are tender.
Tuscan Bean Soup
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large brown onion (diced)
• 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
• 2 carrots (finely chopped)
• 2 stalks celery (finely chopped)
• 1 bunch silverbeet or English spinach (leaves thinly sliced)
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 400g tinned crushed tomatoes
• 2 small zucchinis (chopped into small cubes)
• 1.5L salt reduced vegetable stock
• 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
• 2 tablespoons fresh basil
• 400g tinned borlotti beans (rinsed and drained)
• 400g tinned cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add the diced onion, garlic, chopped celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add the thinly sliced silverbeet and cook until the leaves are wilted.
4. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute to release its flavours.
5. Add tinned tomatoes, zucchini, vegetable stock and water.
6. Stir through thyme and basil and allow to simmer for 5 – 10 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, place half of the borlotti beans and half of the cannellini beans in a small bowl. Using the back of a spoon, roughly mash the beans.
8. Add the mashed and remaining whole beans to the soup and simmer until ready to serve.