I made a vegetable soup yesterday for A to have for dinner (I was going out). I just enjoyed the leftovers for my brunch today, despite the escapee bit of thyme from the bouquet garni which left irritating bits of stick for you to pick out as you ate it. Gah. That'll teach me (not) to rustically zizz it up a bit, rather than blitz it to a smooth puree and pass it through the seive.
This soup went as follows:
1) Chunk up a 3 decent sized carrots, a medium onion and a good-sized leek. While you're doing that, put a pan on a medium heat, and let it get nice and hot. You'll also need 2 good-sized potatoes, peeled and diced, but we won't be using them 'til later.
2) Put a big slug of good olive oil, and a knob of butter in the pan. When the butter starts sizzling, put the carrots, onion and leek in, and sweat them down until the onions are translucent and the leeks are wilted. Then add the potato.
3) Add a small pinch of garam massala and stir through. This doesn't make it spicy, it just does a bit of flavour and appetite enhancement
4) Add 2 pints of stock. I used chicken stock, but a vegetable stock would probably be better.
Brief aside about stocks.
Liquid stocks from the shops are all pretty great, but stock cubes are still way too salty. Why don't people make good stock cubes? They don't *have* to be that salty. Does anyone know of any that aren't? That said, Knorr's liquid stocks are also horribly salty; I made a mistake and bought a bottle because it didn't say "Knorr" on the online grocery description when I was buying stock-cupboard stock. Don't do it; they're nasty.
5) Add a bouquet garni of bay leaves and thyme [try not to let evil bits of the thyme twig you get at this time of year escape from the herby bondage]
6) Add a star anise and a few black peppercorns. Ideally, wrap them in a little bit of muslin, tied up with string so that you can fish them out later
7) Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon
Simmer for 20 minutes (or so) with a lid on the pan, until the spuds are tender, then..
8) Add a teaspoon of Marmite, and stir it in thoroughly. I love marmite in soups
9) Add a tablespoon ("a bit of a glug") of medium-sweet sherry, or madeira. I used sherry. It really is delicious. You can't tell what it is exactly, it just adds some more depth to the veg flavours. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes
10) Roughly blitz with a hand blender or blitz 'til smooth in a proper blender
11) Balance the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a little more lemon juice
Now, ideally, wait! Wait! Make it after lunch for dinner; or tomorrow. Let it cool down to room temperature, then heat it up again when you want to eat it. It'll taste much better.