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Soup - Hwaet!
No, give me a minute. I can get this.
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.
9 comments or Leave a comment
communicator From: communicator Date: November 7th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you tried those jelly stocks you can get now? They are easier to store than liquid, but taste better (I think) than powder and cube. Of course all my cooking is a compromise with speed.
mraltariel From: mraltariel Date: November 7th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't? Do you know who makes them? Personally, I think speed is the most important in weekday cooking. If you have to spend more than about 10-15 minutes in the kitchen, it isn't a weekday dish.

Hence the quest for good stock-cupboard stock!

M&S do some good "stock cupboard" liquid stocks with a long shelf-life, that are quite good. They don't need to be kept in the fridge. And Waitrose have a good "cooks" range of things like stocks and japanese breadcrumbs and stuff.
communicator From: communicator Date: November 7th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Knorr; here is some Unilever marketing-speak about it, which tells me that in China it is called 'dense soup treasure'.
mraltariel From: mraltariel Date: November 7th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I do like "dense soup treasure".

That looks quite good if, as they suggest, it is not salty! I'll give them a try.
toft_froggy From: toft_froggy Date: November 7th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
The sad thing for me about your recipes is that they always involve things I don't have and would never have. I keep tagging them in hopes that one day I will live in a wonderful world where I will have madeira/sherry and marmite lying around the place. This one looks pretty doable, though, and if marmite is a thing I can put in soup, I could probably get a jar from somewhere. I was going to make soup today, though, so maybe I shall make this without the sherry/madeira. Any alternative suggestions? Could I put in a bit of old red wine and honey instead? Or is that an abomination?
mraltariel From: mraltariel Date: November 7th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is well worth investing in a tiny "alcholic granny" bottle of sherry or madeira for such things as soups and stews. It is dirt cheap, and lasts for ever.

I wouldn't use red wine with this soup, it'd go a funny colour. White would be better if you have it? Or a splash of white wine vinegar or similar? I'd definitely try a teaspoon of honey in it; that'd be delicious.
sugoll From: sugoll Date: November 8th, 2009 08:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Doesn't Marmite have a half-life equivalent to uranium? I'm sure if you got a small jar, you'd find a few occasions to employ it. Especially if Mr A keeps giving you excuses.
vilakins From: vilakins Date: November 7th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank you! I often make soup like that, but your ideas for flavouring (the garam masala, marmite, sherry) sound wonderful. [mems]
katlinel From: katlinel Date: November 8th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was soup of much nom and very, very welcome late on a cold (or pleasantly fresh, depending on your perspective) and wet November evening.
9 comments or Leave a comment