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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Super Soups !

 Is there any meal that says “winter” like a soup? Sure, roasts are great in the cold months, but can also say “special occasion”. Some of the slow cooked meals (like braises and curries and stews (oh my!) can whisper “winter” but can also say “time efficient cook”. But mention a bowl of soup plus/minus a bit of bread and you can practically see the frost on the ground and feel the extra layers of clothing.

 I’ve had a good relationship with soups over the years, especially considering we didn’t get off to a good start. Not liking tomato as a child, I avoided tomato soup and so the only other option was packet chicken noodle soup (or Campbells’ Cream of Chicken if you were feeling extravagant. In fact I think a Can of Soup was one of the first meals I was allowed to make by myself). My mum found a recipe for Chinese Corn soup after we had it out at a restaurant, and this became one of my favorites because of the “stringy egg” ingredient (made by slowly pouring egg into the boiling soup while stirring). One of our favorite family culinary tales involved my dad and the first time he made Corn and Bacon chowder: when the recipe called for a “pinch” of cayenne pepper, he gave a few shakes over the pot because, well, it was a BIG pot of soup, and his grandfather had used cayenne on his dinner the way most people use salt. Needless to say we didn't eat much of that soup (the next cayenne-less batch was much more readily digested). An easy recipe for Mulligatawny soup meant that it became a mainstay for our regular mums-at-home lunches, before being superseded by the even-easier and super yummy Wonton Soup (boil your wontons in a bit of chicken stock, ginger and soy sauce, add bok choy and sprinkle with chopped spring onions). Even cup-a-soup have helped out over the years on the I-can’t-bear-to-take-a-sandwich-for-lunch days.

 I find that the cooking magazines and sections usually start throwing in a few soup receipes around March, so by this time of the year I have amassed a good collection of new ones to try. Regular readers will remember my recent soup related escapades, so at the risk of repeating myself, click here to read about Ribollita with Italian Meatballs and Chicken and Kale soup.

 The next soup that caught my eye was a Bacon and Red Lentil soup. I perked up at the description of A Cheat’s Version of (well, "similar in taste" to) Pea and Ham Soup , which I have never been a fan of, but Hubby is (and I’ve never quite got around to buying ham hocks and making if for him. The shame...). This one had lots of veges and lentils for protein, which is something that I do love about soup in that it can be a complete meal nutrition wise, depending on what you put in it (most have veges, so throw in a bit of protein and a bit of bread on the side and you’ve covered your main food groups!). It started with frying bacon, onion and garlic, which is a good start to any non-dessert recipe. It thickened up quite a bit after the lentils had cooked, and once it was blended it was one of those super thick “stoups” (stew-soup) that you could almost stand your spoon up in. And it was delicious. Probably helped along by the yummy smoky bacon I used, but it was so good I wanted to climb in the bowl. I will be making that one again before the winter is out!

 I then spied a Kumara and Peanut Butter Soup recipe on a fitness clothing website, to which I though “I have to try that. Peanut butter soup?!? Crazy!”. We are big fans of peanut butter in our house, so much that we buy the Skippy 3 Lb (1.36 kg) jars from Costco. I have made peanut butter cookies and brownies and used it in the odd Asian dish, but never soup. I will admit that I wasn't enthused when I had all the ingredients in for the “simmer until tender “ part: it had chunks of sweet potato, red capsicum and tomato floating in  a pale milky water-coconut milk broth. Not very aesthetically pleasing. Thanks goodness for the Blend Until Smooth stage, as it is one of the best soups I’ve tasted. The best way to describe it as a satay sauce soup (flavour wise) with the stodgy-fill-you-up-ness of a good minestrone. And super healthy too – it even used coconut oil! And even Hubby, who when I told him what I was making had done the Polite Decline (“… but I’ll have a taste”) came back and ate a whole bowl. And the Peanut Butter Soup label almost enticed Sons  1 & 2 to try it (almost).
Photo credit to Hubby - thanks!
 So I was going quite well with my soup choices. The next one on my list was Kumara and Red Lentil, which gave me pause. I had already made a soup with red lentils, and this recipe didn’t have bacon. Plus, I had used kumara as well, but this one didn’t have peanut butter. So I took pity on that Recipe, which probably would have been quite nice had we had it first, but would always suffer comparisons to The Others, and I decided not to make it. So it must be about time to go through my “Soups” section and make a few of the stars from previous years. Pasta e fagoli? Thai pumpkin? Or Mexican chicken nacho???


  1. Mmmm soup. I love soup. Carrot and Corriander with tortillas gets a good run here, and pea and mint, and potato and leek, and basically any vegie I can cook and blend!

    1. Carrot and coriander? Might have to get that one :)