When Autumn is well under way and winter approaches, we start to appreciate a good, healthy
and inexpensive vegetable soup. The recipes given below are based on combinations of several that we have tried and tested several times and all are completely vegetarian, healthy, tasty and very low in calories. Autumn vegetables are particularly suited to this kind of dish and are plentiful and inexpensive at this time of year.
There are two basic recipes given here, the only essential difference between the two is that the second is a blended, smooth version. If you intend to make the blended version, you do not need to chop or dice the ingredients quite so finely. All the versions can be stored in a cool place for a couple of days provided that they are boiled up for at least 5 minutes each day. In a fridge, they will keep for 4 or 5 days without regular boiling. They can also be frozen in amounts suited to your needs for a typical meal.
|Ingredients for 4 pints (2.3L) of soup (about 8 - 10 servings), adjust proportionally for the amount that you want to make:
Base for all versions:
4 oz (120g) prepared weight of Onions or Leeks chopped quite finely
4 oz (120g) prepared weight of Pumpkin (we use butternut because we grow it) diced into 4 - 5mm pieces, you can also use courgettes
3 heaped (25ml) teaspoons of Knorr vegetable stock powder or another good quality stock base
3 (1.7L) pints water
400g can chopped tomatoes
Mixed herbs according to taste. We sometimes use an Italian mix that has a small amount of chilli in it but you can use Herbs de Provence or any standard mix that you prefer.
Salt and pepper to taste
Plus a 1 - 1.5lb (450 - 700g) prepared weight mixture of vegetables drawn from the following list. The lower quantity will make a thinner soup if blended. Leave out those that you do not like, but make sure that you use at least 3 types:
Carrots 4 - 5mm dice
Turnips 4 - 5mm dice
Swede 4 - 5mm dice
Potatoes 4 - 5mm dice (use a variety that does not mush down when boiled)
Beetroot 4 - 5mm dice (note that this will impart a definite colour to the soup) do not mix with potato or parsnip. The soup is best blended if beetroot is used.
Parsnips 4 - 5mm dice (these are high in carbohydrates and so will make the calorie count higher) do not mix with potato or beetroot. The soup is best blended if parsnip is used.
Heat the water in a large saucepan, make sure that you use one that has plenty of space, the above quantities will require at least a 5 pint (2.2L) pan.
Stir in the stock powder until it is completely dissolved.
We prepare and add the vegetables in the order that gives optimum cooking time for each sort whilst the mixture is being brought to the boil: onions or leeks first, followed which ever you are using from swede, turnip, beetroot, potato, carrot, parsnip and finally pumpkin in that order.
Bring the mixture to the boil, add the chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. At this point, add the herbs and seasoning to taste. 1 teaspoonful (5ml) of herbs is typical but the salt and pepper quantity will vary depending on the amounts in your base stock powder or cube.
Continue to simmer until all the vegetables are tender and then check the seasoning again. At this point you should decide whether you are going to blend the soup to give a homogenous but thicker texture or if you are going to serve it as it is. If blending, allow it to cool slightly first and re-heat afterwards. If you are freezing, an alternative is to freeze the soup with dice and then decide whether to blend after defrosting and before re-heating.
Serve with a good home baked or rustic style bread and butter for a sustaining and warming meal or with croutons as a starter dish.