“Good manners: The noise you don't make when you're eating soup.”
January is National Soup Month in the States and, generally speaking, national and international food days exasperate me, for instance why oh why was 31st December National Bicarbonate of Soda day? How bizarre. However with the weather we've been having on both sides of the pond this designated month makes some sense, soup being such a comforting dish. An ideal time, I thought, to introduce my excellent, incredibly easy, flexible and all round good-guy soup recipe that I have been using in my professional capacity for bloomin’ ages (and I mean ages).
This is one of the basic recipes I give in my book ”The Leftovers Handbook” because is so useful for using up all sorts of leftovers. I have always called it …
Normal Soup – the basic recipe
This wonder-recipe is a potato soup with a very friendly disposition, this quantity makes enough soup for 4 people as an appetizer or 2-3 as a meal in a bowl, depending on what additions you add and how hungry you all are.
2 med onions (about 500 g) – thinly sliced
1 ounce butter OR 2 tablespoons of olive oil, to be healthier and still delicious
2 med/large peeled floury potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper – thinly sliced
Stock or water and stock cubes as necessary and appropriate
~ Cook the onions my favourite way (this is important, I absolutely insist that you see how here!) till they are sweet and tender.
~ When they have achieved this desirable state add the potatoes and enough water (or good stock if you have any) to just cover the top of the potatoes. You will probably need to add more liquid later but less liquid makes the process easier.
~ Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover with the lid and cook till the potatoes are tender.
~ Taste and season including stock cubes, if using, and make delicious.
~ There are several way to finish the soup and they are …
- Leave as it is for a chunky effect.
- Mash the potatoes into the stock for a rustic texture.
- Use a “liquidizer on a stick.
- Use a food processor to for a purée.
- Use a liquidizer for a sophisticated smooth purée.
~ Now add extra liquid till the soup is to your liking, good additions are water, stock, milk or cream although if you have something else runny and appropriate that you fancy (leftover gravy for instance or coconut milk) then go for it. Now re-taste and re-season if necessary.
Et voila, as the Americans say, you have a very good, cheering soup but there is so very much you can do with this it.
Fast and effective variations …
~ Use a different fat eg. bacon fat, schmaltz or coconut oil …
~ Add another layer of flavour when cooking the onions; add celery, carrot, fennel or similar at the start of cooking, add garlic when the onions are almost cooked or stir in a little curry paste just before adding the potatoes.
~ Use a different root vegetable together with or instead of the potato - sweet potato, pumpkin, Jerusalem artichokes, etc. spring to mind.
~ Vichyssoise – just use leeks instead of onions, finish with cream and serve chilled.
~ Just before serving stir in some cheese – a dollop of Boursin is yummy or try blue cheese and leftover broccoli, cheddar and crispy bacon so on.
~ Top with a slice of herb or other compoundbutter
~ Stir in leftovers of your choice to reheat when the soup is finished – cooked veg, meat, fish, sauce, gravy, herbs and so on.
Here’s a recipe to get you started …
Mushroom, Garlic & Clotted Cream
1 x basic recipe but only 1 potato
1 tbsp olive oil
200g-ish mushrooms - sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
splash of white wine if available
100g clotted cream
~ Follow the basic recipe.
~ Meanwhile and in a separate pan heat the oil and sauté the mushrooms until they start to brown.
~ Stir in the garlic, cook for a minute or so then add the wine and simmer till it has reduced away to nothing.
~ Set aside a few of the prettiest mushrooms to garnish the dish and add the rest together with any juices to the basic soup when the potatoes are completely tender.
~ Puree the soup together with most of the clotted cream (keeping back a little to garnish). This soup is nicest done in a processor or liquidiser but chunky is good too!
~ Taste and adjust seasoning.
~ Serve topped with a spoonful of clotted cream and the reserved pretty mushrooms. A sprinkle of chopped chives or parsley would be good too.
Recipes based on this soup that I have posted before …
Spicy Sweet Potato & Coconut Soup ~ see here.
Chunky Chicken leek & Potato ~see here.
Roasted Parsnip Soup ~ see here.
Leek & Watercress Soup ~ see here.
Seafood Chowder ~ see here.
As you can see soup is a fantastic use for all sorts of leftovers including meat, fish, cheeses, sauces, soups, stews, bean, pulses etc. So go for it - let me know what you come up with.
And what do you do with leftover soup? See here for some good ideas including pretty well the best thing I ever did with leftovers!
"Only the pure of heart can make good soup"