Something very comforting about soups and when the nights start to draw in and the leaves fall off the trees I always find my thoughts turn more to soup making than at any other time of year. Summer soups strike me as being weak and spineless, light and delicate whereas autumn and winter soups can be thick and chunky and creamy and, unless you are being very posh, should be slurped steaming hot our of a mug. That is what I have been doing in the last week or so though I will admit to putting them in nice bowls and tarting them up a bit for when they are having their picture taken....
First up - Roasted butternut squash soup
One butternut squash chopped up, be warned these can be a bugger to chop, roasted with herbs and a bit of olive oil, then blended with some good stock, ground pepper and salt and dished up with a scattering of grated cheese on the top. One squash priced 85p made two servings so it certainly is economical. It is the first time I have tried this vegetable and, while not totally overwhelmed with it, am going to have another go with a bit more flavouring - probably put some garlic and onion in with it next time. There is nothing as far as I am concerned that cannot be improved with these two ingredients.
My favourite soup - Leek and Potato. Heat up some olive oil in a casserole, slice up your leeks and chop your spuds (not too bothered about the ratio of leeks to spuds, I just bung in what I have though perhaps more leeks that potatoes), and sautee for a few minutes. Garlic, of course, and some good sea salt. This soup needs a healthy dose of salt I find but go easy on it while cooking as it can always be added when served. When the veg is cooked through and is soft blend and serve. A dash of cream never goes amiss here either. If you make a batch of this I would recommend freezing on the same day as it does not keep very well after 24 hours. It starts to ferment a bit and taste odd. Lost count of the number of times I have forgotten this and had to pour it down the sink.
This is what I call Bottom of Fridge soup or perhaps Remains of the Day. In other words, anything that is lurking in the veggy drawer of your fridge. I rummaged the other week and found some carrots, slightly aging, a leek or two, an onion and a potato. So in the pot they went with some herbs, some good chicken stock made the day before from the carcase of my chicken, simmered for about half an hour, blended and dished up with a swirl of yoghurt this time as I was lacking cream. It was delicious but the only drawback with this kind of soup is that you will never be able to replicate the recipe though knowing my veggy bit of the fridge it is more than likely I might.
I do not turn up my nose at commercially prepared soups. I have a weakness for Heinz tomato soup, I freely admit and don't mind oxtail either. I have made my own tomato soup and it was simply lovely but part of me yearned for the monosodiumglutinate taste of Heinz with its highly and, no doubt, toxic colour which leaves you with orange lips for hours afterwards. I also like the Duchy of Cornwall soups though I think they are expensive when you consider what actually goes into the them.
You can make soup out of almost anything. When catering years ago, I did a huge cauliflower cheese, it was a vegetarian restaurant, which normally vanished quickly. On that particular day it did not and there we were left with this. Well food chucked in the bin = profits in bin so I put it in my food processor (which, thirty years later I am still using) with some stock and cream and whizzed it up. Added a handful of stilton and next day dished it up as our Soup of the Day, Cauliflower and Stilton and sold every last drop of it. When I cooked a big roast for the family any left over veg was bunged in the processor, with left over gravy and anything else that remained - bit of Yorkshire pudding or a roast spud or two and blended. OK sometimes it all came out a murkey sludge colour but add a swirl of cream (my fail safe for making any soup look good) to take away the less than glam appearance and it always tasted wonderful.
Soup is so easy to make and so satisfying to eat. Today for lunch I had my leek and potato soup with a toasted ham sandwich. Simple food but gosh it was lovely.
So get blending....