Soups are marvellous for using up large quantities of vegetables when you have a glut. Depending on what vegetables you have available at any particular time, adjust the recipe accordingly. If you use a pressure cooker, soups can be cooked in 10 – 15 minutes at “high” pressure for a “fast food”. Preferably use fresh herbs when available, but if you have to, you can always use dried herbs, but smaller quantities, as they are more concentrated. For a more substantial soup that is a meal in itself, use ½ litre water, and add meat such as 3 or 4 skinned, boneless, fatless chicken thighs.
If using conventional cooking, simmer the ingredients for 1 hour.
Soup can help to reduce weight as the large volume of a soup makes the body feel that it is full. Apparently, as all the nutrients are all well mixed up with the liquid, it takes the body longer to separate out the nutrients and longer to feel hungry again.
ARTICHOKE SOUP. Into the pressure cooker, put 1 peeled and chopped onion; 750 gm of peeled and chopped Jerusalem Artichokes, 3/4 litre water plus chicken stock cube, bay leaves, parsley stalks and ground pepper. Pressure cook for 10 minutes, reduce pressure, remove bay leaf and liquidize. Add 150 ml milk and finish with chopped parsley.
CELERY SOUP. Put one head of celery, scrubbed and chopped (keep a few leaves to chop for garnish); 2 onions chopped; 3/4 litre water with chicken stock or cube; several bay leaves and black pepper into the pressure cooker, and bring to pressure for 10 minutes. Reduce pressure, liquidize the soup, and slake 2 tsp corn flour with 150 ml milk and stir into the soup and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with a few chopped celery leaves and serve. Do not be tempted to use all the celery leaves as it makes the soup bitter.
COCK-A-LEEKIE SOUP. This is a Scottish Classic recipe. Into the pressure cooker place 2 or 3 skinned and diced, boneless chicken thighs with all fat cut off; add 4 large washed and sliced leeks; 2 sliced carrots; 1 tsp mixed herbs; 10 soft, stoned prunes; 3/4 litre water and a handful of long grain rice. Pressure cook for 20 minutes, adjust seasoning. Duck and Goose carcases, together with the giblets, can be used as the base of a stock. Make sure that you separate off the fat, before you add the vegetables and the other ingredients.
Courgette soup is a good way of using up large quantities of courgettes as a base in a quickly made soup. While courgettes do not have much taste, add other vegetables and herbs that are in season and have more flavour.
500 gm (3 medium courgettes) chopped or grated courgettes.
1 or 2 onions, chopped.
2 garlic cloves.
1 Tbsp olive oil.
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock.
(Add optional 250 gm of chopped or grated potatoes for a thicker soup.)
Method. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a pan, add the chopped onions and cook until softened. Add 1 litre vegetable stock along with the chopped courgettes and simmer for 5 mins until the courgettes are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and use a stick blender to make a smooth soup. If you wish, keep some of the soup back and add the course vegetables to the smooth for a different texture.
Courgette and mint soup. Prepare courgette base and add 1 tsp ginger powder, and a bunch of mint. Simmer for 3 mins and blend as you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Courgette and basil soup. Prepare courgette base and add handful of basil leaves, and a handful of chopped parsley. Simmer for 5 mins and blend as you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle grated parmesan over the soup bowl before serving.
Courgette and tomato soup. Prepare courgette base and add up to 500 gm of chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 3 mins and blend as you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
FARMHOUSE VEGETABLE SOUP. Use a chicken or ham stock, either the real thing or from 2 stock cubes, and prepare and chop up whatever vegetables are in season. Put them all into the pressure cooker including herbs as available with 3/4 litre of water, and cook for 15 minutes. For a meal in itself, include skinless, boneless, fatless chicken thighs at the start of cooking, or even a piece of ham, beef or lamb to match the stock. Always remember to cut off all fat before cooking.
For Summer Farmhouse soup, you could include and pressure cook for 15 minutes new potatoes, broad beans, onions, garlic, shallots. Then reduce pressure and add peas, mange-tout, with green leaves and lettuce thinnings till just tender. At the end of the cooking period, finish off with a touch of vinegar.
For Autumn Farmhouse soup, you could include and pressure cook for 15 minutes, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips, celery, celeriac.Then reduce pressure and add sliced courgette, summer squash, peas and beans with a good grind of pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.
ONION SOUP. Gently fry 6 to 8 chopped onions in 3 tbs of olive oil until the onions are caramelised to a golden brown. Add 3/4 lt of water and stock cube, and pinch of fresh thyme and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning and sprinkle with Stilton cheese. You can replace some of the stock with a glass of beer, ten minutes before end.
MINESTRONE SOUP. Soak 100 g butter beans overnight, drain and add to the pressure cooker, OR add a can of butter beans. Add 2 chopped onions, 3 chopped cloves of garlic, 2 sliced carrots, 3 or 4 sliced celery stalks, 225 g chopped tomatoes OR a can of tomatoes, 2 tbs of tomato paste, 3/4 litre of water with chicken stock cube or vegetable bullion. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes and reduce pressure slowly. Add 1/4 small shredded cabbage and handful of small pasta shells and cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Adjust seasoning.
PEA AND HAM SOUP. Soak 150 g of green split peas overnight and drain. Add to the pressure cooker, together with ¾ litres of water. Add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped carrots and small ham or bacon joint with all fat removed. Cook at high pressure for 20 minutes, and remove the meat joint. Shred some of the meat and add back to the soup, keeping the rest of the meat for a main course. Add some pepper and a handful of frozen or fresh peas for decoration.
SCOTCH BROTH. Put into the pressure cooker, 25 gm of washed pearl barley, 2 diced carrots, 2 chopped onions, 2 washed and sliced leeks, 1/3 peeled and chopped small swede, ½ head of garlic or elephant garlic, 3/4 lt of water with lamb stock cube, and 500 gm diced mutton or lamb with all fat removed. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, and then adjust seasoning and sprinkle chopped parsley over and serve.
SQUASH OR PUMPKIN SOUP. Slice a couple of onions, 2 carrots, 1 pepper, several cloves of garlic and gently fry in a little vegetable oil. Set aside. Take a small winter squash, cut into quarters and micro wave for 10 minutes until soft. Scrape the flesh off the skin with a spoon and add 2 cups of the cooked squash flesh to the pressure cooker. Add the cooked onions, garlic and peppers and a piece of grated ginger, mixed herbs, grated apple, and handful soaked butter beans or cooked chickpeas, together with 1/2 L of water and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cut up 3 or 4 rashers of smoked bacon and fry until crisp. Serve the soup with a sprinkling of crisp bacon pieces.
SQUASH USED AS SOUP CONTAINER. Take a small squash and cut off the top as in the photo to left. Scoop out the seeds from the squash with a small spoon. Place in microwave for about 5 minutes until the flesh softens. Fill the squash, leaving about 5 mm from the top to allow for expansion, with any soup already prepared. Return to the microwave and cook until the soup is boiling. Serve with the already cooked top of the squash, in place.
TOMATO SOUP. Made from your own surplus, over-ripe fruit, the flavour can be so intense that you will have to dilute it.
Take up to 1 Kg of tomatoes, roughly chop and add to a large pan. Add several peeled and chopped onions and cloves of garlic, together with 1/2 lt of water plus a vegetable stock cube, if you wish. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, and serve with roughly torn basil leaves or parsley, and some pepper. Alternatively, sieve out the seeds and skin, or liquidize, to a smooth consistency, before adding the basil.
TOMATO AND LENTIL SOUP. For a more substantial soup, soak 150 gm lentils for 1 hour, and place in a pressure cooker, together with 2 chopped onions, 2 sliced carrots, 500 g chopped tomatoes, 2 bay leaves and 750 ml of water with a chicken stock cube. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes, reduce pressure slowly and season with black pepper and several dashes of Worcester Sauce.