Soups are one of the best ways to continue getting enough nutrients in winter, when salads and lighter vegetable dishes lose their appeal in favour of warm, hearty meals. The grid below offers thousands of variations on one basic soup recipe, so you will never run out of ideas.
Start with a base layer:
- 1 onion or 1 leek finely chopped
- 2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
- 2 carrots (roughly chopped)
All thrown into a pan with some olive oil and sweated on a medium heat until soft and sweet.
Then choose from the following:
|Backing flavour||Bulk it up||
|Thyme (a few sprigs)||Cumin seeds||Butternut squash||Spinach (add at the end)||Quinoa (cooked)||Roasted seeds|
|Rosemary (a couple of sprigs)||Coriander seeds||Sweet potato||Broccoli||Drained beans||Yoghurt|
|Sage (10 leaves)||Cardamom pods (3)||Peas||Peas||Lentils (cooked)||tahini|
|Bay (3 leaves)||Cinnamon stick (1/2)||Celeriac||Broad beans||Torn-up bread||Toasted nuts|
|Oregano (a few sprigs)||Mustard seeds||Parsnips||Artichoke||Small/ smashed pasta||Croutons|
|Basil stalks||Smoked paprika||Tomatoes||Asparagus||Brown rice (cooked)||Chopped herbs|
|Coriander stalks||Dried chilli flakes||Carrots||broken up noodles||Herb/ truffle oil|
|Add the herbs and sizzle for a couple of minutes to release their flavour||Add 1 tbsp and sizzle for a minute or two||1 handful per person, peeled and chopped + enough hot stock to cover. Simmer for 40 minutes.||Add a few handfuls of washed, podded/chopped veg and simmer for 5 more minutes||(optional), add just before soup is ready to eat||Top with 1-2 of the options + a drizzle of olive oil|
There are a wealth of types of bread that you can experiment with pairing with your soups – crackers, rye bread, sourdough and even cheese twists. The following recipe for Welsh Rarebit is like a posh cheese on toast with much more flavour. It does great to bulk up soup if you’re feeling particularly hungry and is also handy to use up any leftover alcohol from the night before.
- 225g grated strong cheddar cheese
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 level teaspoon mustard
- 2 tsp flour
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp beer, Guinness or other ale (can use sweet white wine or milk instead)
- 4 slices bread
- Put the cheese, butter, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, flour and some salt and pepper into a saucepan
- Mix well and add the beer to moisten. Be careful not to make the mixture too wet.
- Stir over a gentle heat until everything has melted together, and the mixture becomes a thick-ish paste. Stop stirring and swivel it around the saucepan.
- Leave to cool a little, and toast the bread very lightly
- Spread the rarebit over the bread and grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
The mixture can be made and kept in the fridge for up to a week as needed.