Soups

The other day I brought some soup into work – it was Oxtail soup, a colleague tried some and asked for the recipe, in fact they asked for any recipes to make soup; hence here are a few soup recipes which I will add to as and when I can.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of soups, but it's a start, I will add to it every now and then.

All of these soups required Salt and Pepper to taste; also the addition of herbs is also a personal choice.

Basic Soup foundations:

Bacon or diced Lardon, gently fried in a little olive oil, add some chopped Onions, diced Carrot and diced Celery – a Bay Leaf and some mixed herbs, all cooked together until soft and translucent, this is a basic building block for soup. Chorizo can be substituted for Bacon or added along with the Bacon, it's a matter of choice.

For Fish soup, finely chopped Shallots, Carrots, Peas and a Bay Leaf can go to make a basic foundation, from there you can add the stock, fish and anything else you want to add; I must admit, I am not a great Fish Soup fan. However, if you wanted to add a little cream, put in a Casserole dish and cover with mashed potato and grated cheese, then put it in the oven, for an hour lovely.

Leek and Potato:

3 Rashers of Bacon chopped,

3 medium sized Leeks finely diced,

4 Medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into Inch sized pieces (2 CM).

Chicken or Vegetable stock cube or gel pack.

Fry the Bacon off in a medium sized pan with a little Olive Oil or light oil of choice. Toss the leeks in the fat then add the stock with enough water to cover the leeks place the potatoes in the pan and cook until soft. Add more water if required.

Then liquidise the cooled mix by using a hand blender or liquidiser, put back into the pan, gently heat whilst adding seasoning to taste; ladle into soup bowls and drizzle some single cream around the centre of the bowl.

Bean Soup:

Please note – do not salt this soup until the Beans are cooked or they will stay hard.

3 rashers of Bacon or the Bacon plus 2 inches of Chorizo chopped.

1 Onion roughly chopped and 2 cloves of Garlic finely chopped.

One Tin of Chopped Tomatoes and ½ tube of Tomato Puree (one tablespoon).

½ bag of dried Haricot Beans or 2 tins of the same.

½ to ¾ Litre of water and Chicken or Vegetable stock cube.

A handful of Macaroni or some other small Pasta shapes.

Salt and Pepper to taste and a teaspoon of Dried mixed herbs or Italian herbs to taste.

Some fresh Basil for Garnish.

Stale rustic Bread or Soda bread can be added to help thicken the soup.

If using dried Haricot Beans they will need to be soaked in water for 24 hours before using and then boiled in a pan on their own until they are soft. Drain and stand the Beans separately.

Using a medium sized pan, fry off the Bacon (Chorizo if you are using it), Onion and Garlic in a little olive oil. Add the half tube or tablespoon of Tomato Puree whilst continuing to fry the above. Continue to stir, and the Puree will start to go dark brown and Caramelise; at this stage add the chopped tomatoes and stir in the mixed herbs.

Add the beans and continue to cook adding the stock and cube as you stir. Leave to simmer for half an hour if using tinned Beans, or longer if using the dried ones.

Once the Beans are soft add the pasta and, if desired, some stale Bread. Season to taste and put some chopped Basil on top just before serving.

You can miss out the bread and Pasta on this dish and introduce small Cod or other white fish fillets in to cook for a short period of time, this is delicious.

Chicken Soup:

This is a great soup after Roast Chicken Dinner on Sunday or any other day for that matter. Once you have had your fill of cold chicken sandwiches and only the carcass remains, put it all in a large pan, three quarters fill with water, put the lid on and bring it to the boil.

Once it is boiling bring the heat under the pan down until the pot is simmering and leave it just on bubble for ¾ to 1 hour. Allow the pan to cool down and remove the carcass, pick off all of the remaining meat by hand and store it on a plate.

Drain the water from the pan through a sieve or Colander into a bowl; if you were not making soup this would become a chicken stock, however once drained, return the water to the pan, put in a stock cube if you wish and stir whilst the pan starts simmering once again.

The pieces of meat left in the sieve can be examined for small bits of bone, knuckle and skin, these can be discarded and the meat can be put on the plate with the other rescued pieces of chicken. You can now start adding your vegetables to the pan – Chopped Onion, Carrot, Beans anything you want to add really; Lentils, Pulses and Barley all go well.

You can put some Tomato Puree or paste in and some pasta; alternatively you can add the leftover vegetables from the dinner; then the Chicken; if there is any Sage and Onion left over put that in too.

Put through a blender if you wish, I wouldn't bother though.

For a different take on this soup, you could add a small tin of sweet corn with the shredded chicken, mix 1 teaspoon of arrowroot or corn flower in a cup with some cold water, then bring the pan to the boil and stir the pan whilst adding this mixture, it will thicken the soup and be similar to Chinese Chicken and sweet corn soup, just add some noodles.

Potage:

This is an ancient French Soup, based on the concept of not wasting food; it's delicious and can be great as a starter or just served as a stopgap meal.

There are two approaches you can take with this, well three actually but these are basically:

As per the French Routier restaurants used to do with all of the leftovers from the Lunch (including the bread), it went into a pot (Pot – Potage, are we seeing a theme here?) It was then cooked up, blended, run through a sieve and served as a starter for an evening meal, the restaurants always had a pot of soup on the stove. As I have said on my website, when we had a B&B in France and served evening meals, any unused vegetables from the serving trays went into the Freezer, they were stored in an old Ice cream tub we kept for that purpose, especially green beans etc. then once it was full, it was used to make Potage.

Second you can make the soup from scratch;

Or you can do a mixture of both, use some old and some new together.

The basis of this soup is green vegetables, Potatoes, stale bread and good chicken stock.

Use tablespoon of Butter for this recipe (it is French)

One medium Leek finely chopped.

400 Gram tin or equivalent Fresh, Fine French Beans.

A couple of florets of Broccoli.

Some florets of watercress if desired

A couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic

A large Potato or two if you wish, peeled and chopped into ½ cubes.

½ a loaf of stale French bread or equivalent,

Two medium diced carrots if you wish

1 Litre of Chicken stock,

A sprig of Thyme or any other herbs you want to add.

Melt the butter in a large pan then sweat the leeks and Garlic until translucent. Put in all of the vegetables along with the herbs and mix with the butter, leave to cook for a couple of minutes with the lid on, then add the Chicken stock and bring to the simmering point.

After ¾ of an hour everything in the pot should be very soft, add the stale bread and mash it all up together.

Let the soup mixture cool take out the sprig of Thyme then run it through a blender or food processor until it takes on a fine grainy texture, return to the pan, season with salt and Pepper as required ( this soup enjoys a lot of black pepper), then heat up to simmering temperature once again.

The soup may need more water added, that's up to you, it's your soup, you eat it at the consistency you want.

French Onion Soup:

4 Medium or 3 Large white Onions thinly sliced.

4 cloves of Garlic finely sliced.

1 Knob of Butter and a tablespoon of Olive Oil.

1 to 1.5 teaspoons of Sugar.

250 Mls of white wine.

1 Litre of strong Beef Stock.

About 2 tablespoons of plain flour used to thicken the sauce.

In a large heavy based pan or Casserole, melt the butter and oil together. Gently fry off the onions in the pan with the lid on for about 10 minutes, then remove the lid, stir in the sugar and cook for a further 20 minutes or so. Keep stirring until the onions are soft, golden brown and caramelized; add the Garlic to cook, keep stirring to make sure the onions don't burn onto the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle in the flour, increase the heat and keep stirring as you slowly add the wine, then add the stock; cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Traditionally this is served with a slice of Toasted French Bread on which some cheese has been melted; this bread is then floated on top of the soup once it is served into the bowl. Grated Gruyere or Cheddar cheese is fine for this purpose.

Oxtail Soup:

Brown off in a casserole dish 4 or 6 pieces of Ox tail using a little oil to fry.

Add what the Italians consider to be the holy trinity of cooking, Onion, garlic and Celery all chopped quite finely; chop some Carrot, and add along with a Bay Leaf and enough red wine to cover the bones.

With the lid on, cook in the oven @ 150°C for about an hour checking and turning the meat on a regular basis, making sure it does not go dry. If required add water. Put in some diced potato and any other vegetable you want to add really (green beans are good), then add about a pint or so of boiling water in which a beef stock cube has been diluted. Cook on at 150/175°C for a further hour or so.

To serve, you can either take out the Bay leaf and bones, let them cool, shred off the meat and return it to the pan, or just serve it up as it is and have a competition to see who gets the Bay Leaf. This is delicious served with some fresh Soda Bread.