Soup season is fast approaching and nothing warms the soul more on a chilly, grizzly day than a steaming hot bowl of soup. Now I am sure we all have a few tried and tested staple soup recipes that we bring out every year around this time, but this year I challenge you to take that staple recipe to the next level of deliciousness by adding in some flavour bombs to really set your tastebuds soaring not to mention taking the nutritional value of the soup up a notch or two. The inclusion of fresh herbs and spices in your traditional soup recipe not only makes for a fresh change but it can also increase the nutritional content of the soup ten-fold, which is what we all need during the cooler months that can often see us feeling sluggish and run down with colds and flus.
Think fresh turmeric in a standard chicken and vegetable soup which supercharges the anti-inflammatory properties of the soup. Adding curry leaves to your cauliflower soup not only adds a sensational kick of flavour, but it also boosts the anti-oxidant content of the dish. Ginger and coriander added to a standard beef broth can add a lovely zesty tang to the soup, as well as aiding digestion. Oh, and what about adding dill to broccoli soup for a little something out of the ordinary. Start playing around with different herbs and spices and you’ll some find some pretty amazing favour combinations.
Perhaps my favourite flavour combination at the moment is sweet pumpkin and what I fondly refer to as the ‘awesome foursome’ of thai spice; lemongrass, ginger, chilli and coriander. Seriously, adding just these four extra ingredients at the start of your soup cooking process, can take your humble pumpkin soup to a new flavour destination, not to mention providing you with a metabolism and immunity boosting winning combination of ingredients. It is so simple to include these ingredients into your existing recipe or if you are yet to find a tried and tested pumpkin soup recipe, feel free to use mine.
If you are using your own soup recipe, all you need to do is use a mini food processor to blitz up a lemongrass stem (white part only), 1-2 red chilli’s, a 2cm piece of ginger and a handful of coriander (stems and leaves) into a thick paste. Add the paste to your sautéing onions in Step 1 of your soup prep and cook until the past becomes aromatic, then proceed with the rest of your soup recipe as normal. Once cooked, top with a dollop of coconut cream, rather than fresh cream, and a few more sprigs of coriander and fresh chilli. It will look sensational, brightening up any grizzly day.
For those of you who are yet to find a pumpkin soup recipe of your own, I’d be delighted for you to run with mine. It’s a real winner. This recipe was handed down to me from my mum when I left home and I am yet to find one that matches it. Thanks mum!
Mum’s Pumpkin Soup Recipe
- 1 brown onion (diced finely)
- 500g diced pumpkin (any sort will do)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 cups of vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
- 20g butter
Awesome Foursome Thai Flavour Bomb
- 2 cm cube fresh ginger, peeled
- 1-2 small red chillies (deseeded if preferred)
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh coriander (stems and leaves), finely diced
- 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass (white part only), chopped into chunks
- Plus coconut cream to serve
- Place the ‘awesome foursome’ ingredients into a mini food processor and blitz to a fine paste.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan and cook onions and thai paste for a few minutes until the onions are soft and the paste becomes aromatic.
- Add chopped pumpkin and carrot and stir to coat the vegetables with the spice mix, before adding the stock to the pan.
- Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to low, simmering for around 20 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft.
- Allow the soup to cool slightly before pouring into a blender or using a stick blender to puree into a creamy consistency and season to taste.
- Divide soup into 4 bowls, add a dollop of coconut cream and a few sprigs of coriander and enjoy your new creation.
A side note on stock….
It pays huge nutritional dividends to either make your own stock or for those that are time poor, invest in a really good quality liquid stock rather than using long life stock cubes which are typically laden with salt and preservatives and hold little nutritional value. As the motto goes….fresh is best. Skimp on your stock and you’ll skimp on the health benefits you will get out of your soup. For those looking for a good stock recipe, be it vegetable, chicken, beef or fish, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I’d be delighted to share.