Monday, February 23, 2009

Warming winter soups

In the winter months soup is one of my favourite things to make. It fills your kitchen with a delicious smell, and the leftovers last for several days (alternately you can freeze servings for a quick reheated dinner down the line).

Depending on what ingredients you use soup can actually taste quite spring-like, even if it's February. One of my favourites is a green pea soup with mint (included recipe below). If you've ever made pea soup from scratch, with frozen peas, you know the vibrant green it turns after it's blended -- I guarantee it'll turn you off canned pea soup for life.

Fresh tomato soup is another wonderful thing -- I thought I hated tomato soup until I made a lovely one from Donna Hay's New Food Fast. It's best in the summer months of course when tomatoes are at their peak, but can also be made in the winter if you find some flavourful Romas and roast them in the oven beforehand.

The first soup I ever made was back in my university days, a creamy potato chowder with bacon. With some homemade Cheddar biscuits to go alongside, it was one of the first meals I was truly proud of, and one that made me realize how much I enjoyed cooking.

I haven't tried a new soup recipe in some time though, which makes me think I need some new inspiration. Thinking I might find it in the Times Online's recent post on 10 super seasonal soups.

A quick browse, and a few have caught my eye, mainly the Savoy cabbage and white bean soup, and the parsnip soup with chestnuts and mixed herb pesto.

Now, where was that biscuit recipe?!

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

4 cups frozen or fresh peas
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 1/4 cups chicken stock, or more if needed for thinning
1/2 cup milk or cream, or more if needed
pinch granulated sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup toasted or fried croutons (optional)

In a saucepan, bring peas, onion and stock to a boil. Simmer for six to eight minutes and puree. Stir in the milk or cream and sugar. If the consistency is too thick, thin with either stock or more milk. To serve reheat with the mint, reserving a little for garnish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with croutons and leftover mint.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Courtesy, Mrs. Cook's Kitchen, Basics & Beyond, Gay Cook, 2000.



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