I love making soup in winter. It’s something that’s so easy to dismiss as boring and bland, but there’s nothing more comforting than a big warm bowl of comforting soup on a cold day. It’s a dish that offers endless possibilities and actually allows you to pack in a serious amount of healthy stuff and fill you up without any stodge, plus once you start thinking about it the flavour combinations are endless.
I have two favourite soup recipes that I make every couple of weeks on a loop, my chunky vegetable soup and slightly spicy tomato soup. I love them but I thought it was time I shook things up a bit. I think the trick is two pick 2-3 ‘hero’ ingredients as otherwise it all just ends up a bit of a mush. Just think about the classics: leek and potato, carrot and coriander, broccoli and stilton, all of them focus on two big flavours. This doesn’t mean you can’t pack a loads of other stuff in there but you should always try and let the main ingredients rule. I ended up experimenting with roasted red peppers (as an upgrade on tomato) and goats cheese, because who doesn’t love cheese in a soup. I think it adds that extra depth of flavour that takes it to another level.
We’ve all got that emergency can of tinned soup stashed at the back of the cupboard, mine is always a classic Heinz tomato to have with a cheese sandwich when I’m feeling under the weather. However, my favourite thing about homemade soup is that it just feels so much heartier and more satisfying. I’d happily have a homemade soup for dinner and feel full and satisfied and I’m not sure that a tin can do that for me.
This recipe is great fresh, but I’ve found it tastes even better a day later when the flavours have had a chance to intensify. It makes a great packed lunch if you’ve got the facilities to reheat at work.
3 red peppers
1 tsp coconut oil for cooking
1 red onion, sliced
1 red chilli, diced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sun dried tomato purée
1 vegetable stock cube/stock pot
400ml jar boiling water
Handful fresh parsley
75g goats cheese
- Preheat oven to 190ºC.
- Halve and de-seed the peppers and spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until softened.
- Meanwhile in a saucepan heat the oil and fry the onions and chilli on a medium heat until softened.
- Add the oregano, paprika and sun dried tomato purée and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. (Top tip: if your pan is drying out add a splash of water rather than oil, it reduces the amount of oil you’re adding and will cool the pan down a little as well as adding moisture)
- Pour in the passata and add the stock cube/pot and boiling water. Pour the boiling water into your passata jar before adding to the pan to help clean out any passata that’s left stuck to the sides.
- Thoroughly combine and bring to a simmer, allowing everything to cook away for 10 minutes.
- Roughly chop the roasted peppers, goats cheese and parsley and add to the soup. Reduce the temperature.
- Use a hand held blender to blitz everything to a smooth consistency or decant into a food processor in batches. Ensure your mixer is safe to handle hot liquids before doing so. Otherwise wait until cooled, blend and then reheat. Alternatively if you prefer your soups chunky just make sure you’ve thoroughly diced all the veg before adding.
- Serve on it’s own, with a crusty buttered roll or garnish with a swirl of yoghurt and sprig of fresh parsley if you’re being fancy.