David experiments with new formulations while working as a chemist, and he experiments with new recipes while at home in his kitchen.
Soup is literally the easiest thing to make. Even those lacking the cooking gene (poor souls) should be able to make soup. It is great as an entrée or healthy lunch and is perfect for warming us up, both physically and mentally, during the cold winter months.
Veggie soup is probably the most versatile type of soup due to its generic name, and it is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables you have in the refrigerator. Feel free to experiment with any vegetables you may have lying around. Once you have something orange, something green, onions, and garlic, then you are pretty much good to go. Typically, potatoes are included to add body and texture. Their starch also helps thicken the soup. In place of regular potatoes, you may use sweet potato. This not only helps to thicken the soup, but it also adds a natural sweetness and a buttery flavour. Sweet potatoes also pack more vitamins and minerals than regular potatoes.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make vegetable soup from scratch. For this recipe, you need just a few simple ingredients—onions, garlic, potato, carrots, broccoli, stock, butter and seasoning. The cumin is optional, although I strongly recommend it. This popular Indian spice adds a wonderful earthy, nutty and spicy taste and a warm aroma with hints of lemon. I usually add a little during the cooking and a little more to taste when the recipe is complete.
Oftentimes, I crumble some walnuts over the top just before serving and add a little fresh parsley for colour. Both are optional, but I find the nuts add a little crunch and texture to the silky soup. If you don't have any walnuts, you may experiment with any other nut. Pecans, Brazil nuts or pistachios all sound good to me.
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6 x 17 fl oz (500ml) bowls of soup
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 6 carrots, peeled and chopped in 1cm pieces
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped in 1 inch pieces may substitute regular potato
- 1 large broccoli bunch, chopped
- 50g (1/4 cup, 2oz) butter, may add more to taste
- 1 chicken stock cube, may use vegetable or beef
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp cumin powder (optional), may add more to taste
- walnuts (optional), chopped, for texture
- parsley (optional), to finish
Note: A medium-sized pot (approx 1 gallon, 3.8 liters) with a heavy base was used.
- On medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onions, sliced garlic cloves and black pepper. Sauté the onions and garlic with the lid on for 10 minutes. The onions should become translucent.
- Add the sliced carrots and fill the pot 3/4ths of the way up with boiling water. Crumble in the chicken stock cube. If you are using liquid stock add this in place of the water. Place the lid on and boil on high heat for 5 minutes. When making soup, it is always a good idea to add the carrots first, as they take longer to cook. If you wish to use cumin, add it during this step.
- Add the chopped potatoes (sweet or regular), cover the pot with its lid and cook for 15 minutes on high heat. Make sure that there is at least 1 inch of liquid covering the surface of the vegetables.
- Add the chopped broccoli, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes on high heat. Again, you may need to add a little water to the pot—just enough to cover the vegetables. Do not add too much or you will have watery soup.
- Once cooked, it is time to blend the soup. You may use a hand blender or a large food processor. Process until you achieve a smooth and creamy texture. If your soup is too thick, add a little water or stock to dilute.
- It is now time to add a little more seasoning to taste. I often add more salt, pepper and cumin (optional) at this point. You must be careful not to overdo it and always taste after each addition. Nobody likes super salty or peppery soup! If you are using cumin, be careful not to add too much, as you don't want to overpower the vegetables or make your soup taste like curry.
- Finally, serve your yummy homemade soup. Decorate with fresh parsley and chopped nuts (optional). The nuts add a little texture and crunch, which complements the velvety smooth soup. If you do not use all of the soup right away, no worries—store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It is also ideal for freezing.
© 2017 David Branagan