Soups with a difference

soup

Fact: I eat soup every day. I simply cannot get enough of the stuff. But, why? The reasons are endless, but in short, soup is tasty, healthy, cheap and in terms of flavour combinations, limited only by your imagination.

These days I make my own soup. I find it therapeutic to sit and read a book while a big pot is bubbling away. It also means that I always have food in the freezer for those times when you want something homemade but are short of time.

There’s a preconception that soups are either difficult to make or don’t fill you up. That’s not the case. In this post, I am going to look at soups with a difference; ways you can make a simple soup in less than 10 minutes, and how you can turn soup into a meal.

10 minutes and counting

Making fresh soup doesn’t have to be time consuming if you don’t want it to be. There are a few simple ingredients that can combine together to make a wonderful meal when you’re short of time. One of my favourites is prawn noodle soup. To make this dish, add boiling vegetable stock to a pan with ready-cooked prawns, a nest of rice noodles and a cup of frozen peas. Boil for four minutes – or until the rice noodles are soft – et voila, you have a healthy soup in under 10 minutes.

Noodle soup is also a great way to use up leftover roast chicken. Simply substitute the prawns for chicken and you have the same delicious meal.

Another delicious soup you can make in less than 10 minutes is my spicy bean soup. For this soup, you’ll need a can of mixed beans in chilli sauce, a packet of microwaveable rice and some vegetable stock. In a saucepan, heat the beans and add around 250ml of vegetable stock. Cook the rice as per the packet instructions and when ready, add half the pack to the soup mixture. Stir and season to taste.

A meal not a soup

Soup can sometimes get a bad reputation for not being filling enough. If you choose your ingredients wisely – and pack your soup full of them, that doesn’t need to be the case. I use different grains to beef up my soup – anything from pasta and noodles to lentils and spelt. All work well to transform a light soup into what I call a stewp (a cross between a soup and a stew).

A superbly filling soup that certainly doubles up as a meal is my chickpea and spinach dahl-inspired soup. To make this dish, simply boil lentils in some vegetable stock, a tablespoon of cumin and a tablespoon of ground coriander. Use a little less stock than you normally would to make a soup, so that the consistency doesn’t become too thin. After 15 minutes add a tin of chickpeas and cook for a further 10 minutes. When the soup is ready, take it off the heat and add two handfuls of fresh spinach. Stir well to wilt the spinach and serve.

I’ve recently been cooking with spelt, which is a filling, tasty grain. To make my spelt and ham hock soup, start with cooking a carrot, onion, stick of celery and a clove of garlic. Add in the spelt, a good squeeze of tomato puree and two teaspoons of oregano. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Now add in the ready-cooked ham hock (available in most leading supermarkets) and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until the spelt is cooked through.

These are my tips for making either quick and easy soups, or those that can fill you up as much as any good meal can.

What are your favourite soups?

Chiara is an editor who likes the simple things in life; a cup of tea by the fire, travel, and spending time with friends and family. She also can’t resist the lure of Scandinavian decor and has a penchant for anything warm and cosy. You can find out more about Chiara and follow her adventures on her blog, Wine and Olives.

Noodlesoup
Chickpeasoup