Vegetable Soup

This is my vegetable soup, which I admit is pretty good. I always make a great load of it and freeze what I don’t eat. It’s very good for you, easy to make and pretty substantial for a soup containing no big meaty bits! The Grigson also does one that contains lots of meat! I must admit I make mine with chicken stock, but I also make it with vegetable stock and it’s almost as good. It difficult to stick to an exact recipe, because it throw in whatever I have, plus the time of year has a great effect. I think that there are certain ingredients that are a must, however, such as potato, onion, garlic, carrot, i.e. basic stock vegetables. That said if you miss a couple out it’s also fine. I would say try and use as many of them as possible. All should be clear in the recipe. The rest of the vegetables can then be added at the appropriate time – roots straight after the stock has come to a simmer, and greens towards the end. The choice of herbs is your own, but I like the classics – thyme, parsley, pepper and mint. Any stalks and leaves you don’t use, freeze. I freeze all my fresh herbs and spices – chillies, herbs, ginger, etc etc…

I think that some protein is required so I always add some red lentils, which thicken the soup slightly, and a can of beans – any will do, use your favourite.

For some tips on what to put in your bouquet garni, have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouquet_garni. I find that those little bags you get with washing tablets work quite well!

You will need:
2 tbs olive oil, or butter
bouquet garni – made from a very generous sprig of thyme, parsley stalks, mint stalks
2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbs of red lentils
salt and pepper

As many of the following basic vegetables as possible:
1 onion, chopped
1 medium-sized potato, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 carrots, diced
1-2 sticks celery, diced
1 leek, sliced – use as much of the green parts as possible. Slice it finely though as it can be tough

2 or 3 root veg, diced appropriately, as some take longer to cook than others e.g. turnips, a small swede, parsnip
1 or 2 greens, thinly sliced e.g. 1/4 white cabbage, kale, peas (don’t slice those, obv.!)
1 can of cooked beans
2 tbs each parsley and mint
more salt and pepper, if required

What to do:

  1. Fry the stock vegetables in the oil gently for a few minutes, when they start to soften, season and add the bouquet garni. (Tie the herbs with a piece of string, or put in a muslin bag). Continue to fry for about 10 minutes – don’t let the vegetables colour, though.
  2. Add the stock and bring to the boil, add the lentils, then allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the root vegetables and simmer until tender – around 15 minutes.
  4. Add the greens, beans and herbs and allow to simmers for 5 more minutes.
  5. Removed the bouquet garni and check the seasoning.

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